It feels like the Arizona Coyotes have been rebuilding for an eternity. The last rebuild fizzled out. Only Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton remain from what was once a top-five prospect pool. In the last three drafts, the Coyotes have made 33 draft picks. They also have 20 picks in the first three rounds of the next three drafts, combined.
With prospects like Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, and Connor Geekie already in the system, The Coyotes once again have one of the strongest prospect pools in the league.
The Coyotes strengthened their roster over the summer with the additions of Jason Zucker and Alex Kerfoot. Not to mention, a savvy trade with the Los Angeles Kings to acquire Sean Durzi.
Only one or two players are impact fantasy options. Still, they boast a bevy of depth options that will provide great depth to most rosters.
2023-2024 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview: Arizona Coyotes
In all formats, Clayton Keller should be the first Coyote taken. No other Coyotes offer 90-point potential. He stands alone on a roster of depth options. Keller broke out in a big way last year, posting 86 points in 82 games. This was the first point-per-game season of his career.
Get used to that kind of production. Keller should produce over a point per game for the duration of his career. Sure, there is likely to be one or two years when he slips back into the 70-point range; variance, luck, and injuries play havoc with everyone’s career. Help is on the way for Keller. High-end linemates are starting to sprinkle into the lineup. This will only strengthen the power play and create better matchups for Keller.
If only Nick Schmaltz could avoid injury and play a full season. In the last two years, he has produced over .9 points per game (74, 75 points). Folks would view Schmaltz differently had his stat lines shown 74 points versus 58 and 59 in that span. There’s no reason to suspect he won’t repeat that pace this year.
The Coyotes will desperately need a new stadium to meet the demand of fans to see Logan Cooley play live. Clayton Keller is the only prospect the Coyotes have drafted and developed that holds a candle to Cooley’s skill set. It’ll take a couple of years for him to reach his potential but there’s little doubt that he will. Cooley will be a dynamic, impact player in fantasy and for the Coyotes for years to come.
He should make his presence felt immediately. He is the odds-on favorite to push Connor Bedard for the Calder Trophy. Realistically, he could surpass 60 points this year.
Speaking of 60 points, Barrett Hayton has also arrived. In 2022-2023, he produced a respectable 43 points. He currently sits at 176 career NHL games and will surpass his breakout threshold in early December. Hayton should surpass 55 points with ease. He has the opportunity to hit 60. If everything clicks from opening night onward, he could tease 70.
Dylan Guenther demonstrated last year he has outgrown the CHL. He was on a different level. His transition to the NHL won’t be quite as smooth as Cooley’s. If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, have patience. Forty points might feel like a disappointment, but hang on. He has bigger seasons in store.
The Coyotes also boast three multi-cat options. Lawson Crouse, who has developed into a threat to score 30 goals, is also a threat for 200 hits. Jason Zucker, routinely produces 25 goals, 200 hits, and 200 shots. When you dig a bit deeper you find Jack McBain. His offensive numbers didn’t pop last year, but he did have over 300 hits. His shot totals need to increase if he is to be considered a real offensive option. He needs to double his shot totals if he is to become fantasy-relevant.
Mattias Maccelli wraps up the Coyotes fantasy forwards. Like McBain, he shoots at a horrific rate. Yet, all he did was produce. He should push 50 points. Unless his shot totals increase he will be relying on the ability of his teammates to finish plays.
Jusso Valimaki should get the first shot on the top powerplay. In his final 39 games, he produced 33 points. he also took over top power-play duties after the Shane Gostisbehere trade. If you are looking for a 50-point sleeper. Here he is. In his last 20 games, his shot totals increased to 1.6 per game. The highest rate of his NHL career to date. A very positive sign that he needs to build on this year.
There’s been a lot of talk about Sean Durzi getting prime minutes now that he is out from under Drew Doughty’s shadow. He won’t be handed anything. The first power-play is Valimaki’s to lose. This puts Durzi in line for time on the second power play. There’s no reason to think Valimaki can’t put up 40 points behind Valimaki.
Lest we forget J.J. Moser, who put up 31 points in his first full NHL season. Like Durzi, there’s a chance he can push to 40-points. Of the three mentioned, he’s the best multi-cat option. He blocks more than either Valimaki or Durzi and puts up a decent number of hits.
Speaking of multi-cat options, the Coyotes signed Matt Dumba. A former threat for 50 points, his offense has cratered. Perhaps playing in Arizona will retrieve some of that lost offense. None of the above fantasy options are assured of any role. Dumba could create chaos if he finds his game.
Keep an eye on Victor Soderstrom. A highly touted prospect who hasn’t been able to stick. If things click, he could challenge all the above for ice time.
Popular opinion is that Karel Vejmelka will be the Coyotes’ starting goalie. On opening night he probably will get the early nod. However, outside of the first quarter of last season, Vejmelka was not very good. He sported a .893 save percentage and 3.58 goals against average over his final 38 starts (three-quarters of the season).
I know what you’re thinking, this is the Coyotes. They weren’t a good team. If only we had someone to compare him to. Enter Connor Ingram. His numbers went in the opposite direction. The first half of the year he was not very good. Over his last fifteen starts though, Ingram put up strong numbers. In the third quarter of the season (games 41 to 62) he had ten starts. In those ten starts, he had a GAA of 2.88 and a .926 SVPCT. He only started 5 of the final 20 games and rolled out a respectable .907 SVPCT. In those 15 games, he lost 7 in overtime or a shootout. He was fighting and battling every night.
This is a goalie situation to keep an eye on. It might be Vejmelka’s starting job on opening night, but I am far from convinced it will be his at the end of the year.
In summary, Clayton Keller is a stud. Pure and simple. Schmaltz is an under-the-radar 70-point center. Cooley has Calder dreams and 60-plus-point potential. Zucker, Crouse & McBain might be the heaviest line in hockey. There is serious multi-cat value in that trio. Durzi, Moser & Valimaki offer quality sleeper value on the blue line. There will be a goalie controversy in the desert. Ingram is coming for that starting job, Vejmelka better be ready.
This team is going to battle every night. They aren’t a playoff team, but they’re scrappy. They also boast three lines that can score. The Coyotes might be a surprise team and be in the bubble discussion as late as February.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it and found this helpful as you prep for your draft.
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Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!