Arizona Coyotes In Win-Now Mode After Roster Overhaul

© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Nashville Predators at Arizona Coyotes

Arizona general manager John Chayka has taken the Coyotes’ rebuilding process a step forward this season with a new look at nearly every level.
 
It was announced in early June that owner Andrew Barroway was buying out minority owners, and his first move as the sole proprietor was reportedly telling the 28-year-old Chayka -- the youngest GM in NHL history -- that longtime captain and beloved Arizona player Shane Doan was not welcome back to the team.
 
Doan, should he head to a contending team in search for his first Stanley Cup, is coming off a year in which he scored six goals in 74 games. The desert dogs have focused on both youth and the future, which meant not involving the near 41-year-old in their business strategy.
 
Shortly after the announcement of the team’s departure from the fan favorite Doan, who was offered a front office job, the team let go of another longtime cog in head coach Dave Tippett.
 
Tippett was brought in in September of 2009 to replace Wayne Gretzky and had been at the helm for the previous eight seasons. Tippett’s resume showed success at nearly every level, and he led the financially struggling franchise to three straight playoff berths and the Western Conference Finals in 2012, where it fell to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.
 
The 2010 Jack Adams winner is among the most accomplished coaches on the market and will likely be a leading candidate when the first round of firings happen in 2017-18.
 
With the 2017 NHL Entry Draft just days away, the inexperienced Chayka, who was hired in May of last year, was heading into draft weekend amid the organization’s shakeup and was proverbially staring adversity right in the face. 
 
 
Chayka put the wheels in motion by trading starting goalie Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames for pending free agent Chad Johnson, defensive prospect Brandon Hickey, and a conditional 2018 draft pick.
 
He then pulled yet another savvy move in his short tenure and landed both a legitimate No. 1 center and Smith’s replacement from the New York Rangers for the seventh overall pick and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. In exchange, Chayka brought in Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta, who has showed the capabilities of being a No. 1 netminder in recent years as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.
 
Chayka followed it up with another deal, bringing in defensive stalwart and three-time Stanley Cup champion Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin. A stay-at-home blue-liner, Hjalmarsson is expected to slot in alongside fellow Swede Oliver Ekman-Larsson to act as a safe haven for the offensively inclined defender.
 
The Coyotes were also among the fortunate teams in the expansion draft, losing AHL stud and NHL fringe player Teemu Pulkkinen to Vegas. Things have been going right for Arizona this summer, even after its planned deal with Arizona State University for a shared arena fell through.
 
The trade-off of youthful promise for established talent means Barroway and Chayka are in win-now mode and want to pull the franchise away from the bottom dwellers and endless relocation rumors.
 
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Chayka has put together a solid lineup that appears ready to push for a playoff spot in the near future. However, the team will be up against division opponents Los Angeles, San Jose, Calgary, Anaheim, and Edmonton, each of which has taken significant steps forward in recent years.
 
Chayka will likely search for another depth signing at forward before the season begins. The loss of leadership, experience, and production between Doan, Smith, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata will be a hit to the lineup.
 
That doesn’t include the loss of Ryan White, Peter Holland, Alexander Burmistrov, or Josh Jooris, who played significant time for the team last season.
 
Too many changes can be a bad thing, but the Coyotes remain focused on the end goal of injecting youth into their lineup and being a fast, skilled team for years to come.
 
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

5 NHL Teams That Could Use Jaromir Jagr In 2017-18

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

The NHL is a month and a half into free agency, and the growing trend of ageism is claiming another group of veterans.

Jarome Iginla, Thomas Vanek, and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr are just a few of the formidable players still searching for new contracts.

Jagr, 45, remains a force on the ice despite having his worst full season in terms of point production. Last year, he tallied 46 points; the year before, with similar ice time and games played, he reached 66 points. However, he was stuck on a surprisingly underwhelming Florida Panthers team that was dealing with a reconstructed defense, significant injuries, and front-office turmoil.

5 NHL Breakout Candidates For 2017-18

© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets

By Jacob Messing

With each new season, fans get to see breakout performances from some of the NHL’s emerging talent. These budding superstars show glimpses of the league’s future.

While some players are stuck in the developmental level of their careers -- learning hockey at its highest level -- others consistently deliver highlight-reel action every time they step onto the ice. Last season, players such as Viktor Arvidsson, Mikael Granlund, and Nikita Kucherov moved from the former category to the latter. Who could do the same this year?

Introducing The U.S. Olympic Hockey Coaching Staff

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins

By Jacob Messing

The reality of a 2018 Winter Olympics without NHL players is sinking in after the recent announcement of the U.S. men’s national team’s coaching staff.

Last week, the brass for the United States named its coaches for the upcoming international tournament, starting with Wisconsin Badgers head coach Tony Granato, who will serve in the same role for Team USA.

A Radical Solution To The NHL's Inconsistent Suspension Policy

© Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins

By Jacob Messing

In 2016-17, the NHL had its lowest numbers of suspensions since the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season.

The number of suspensions, cumulative games lost, and number of NHL teams that had a player suspended were all meaningfully lower than the previous three seasons.

'Soap Hockey' Offers Slippery Alternative To Backyard Pickup Games

The Soap Hockey Project Soap Hockey

By Jacob Messing

What happens when six people try to play hockey on a soap-slicked tarp in the middle of the summertime?

Apparently, they found the answer in Sweden. It’s called “Håsjösåpan,” and it’s sweeping the internet.

No NHL, No Problem: AHL Players With Olympic Potential

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The NHL recently issued a statement to its teams that AHL players can be released for Olympic participation in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

3 NHL Teams That Are Hoping Blue Line Upgrades Lead To Offensive Spark

© Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports NHL: New Jersey Devils at Chicago Blackhawks

This summer hasn't seen the blockbusters of Taylor Hall for Adam Larson or P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, but a number of teams have completed savvy trades to land experienced, productive defensemen. These moves will prove more important on the ice than they may initially seem on paper. 

St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo Poised For Career Year

© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Arizona Coyotes at St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues unwrapped a somewhat hidden present in Alex Pietrangelo after the team traded Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline last season.

Fantasy Hockey: Dark Horse Player For Each Eastern Conference Team

© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning

The NHL offseason is winding down after a busy summer of high-profile free agency moves, league expansion, and entry draft selections.

Fantasy Hockey: Dark Horse Player For Each Western Conference Team

© Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports NHL: St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets

The 2017-18 fantasy hockey season is approaching fast, and since your league members are already preparing so should you.