The 2015-16 season for the Arizona Coyotes ended without meeting their goal to still be playing in the playoffs. But progress was made, especially by the young players.
Youth, speed, and hope
The team's young rookies really brought some new excitement towards the future years, while improving the overall ability of the Desert Dogs. When you watched Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Louis Domingue, and Jordan Martinook play this past season, it has to bring a smile to your face.
Domi finished with 18 goals, 34 assists in 81 games. He was suspended for one game for going after the Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Garbutt who gave a nasty hit to Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Max Domi showed the grit he inherited from his father, Tie Domi and made it known if you go after his teammate he will come after you. Besides his toughness, he showed great stick handling ability, speed, and overall had one pretty impressive rookie season. Head Coach Dave Tippett recently added the responsibility of penalty killing to Domi's resume, and he picked it right up.
This is one talented NHL player. He may not win the Calder Trophy for being the best rookie of the year, but he'll be in the top three.
The real kicker about Domi is that he is accomplishing all this while being a type-1 diabetic. It hasn't phased him one bit, and he is an inspiration to other diabetics in that he has shown you can do anything once you dedicate yourself to that cause.
Duclair's a dandy
Anthony Duclair ("Duke") teamed up with Domi to form the "Killer D's", and with his 20 goals, 24 assists his sting was felt by opposing teams. His eight power play goals was second on the team behind both Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Shane Doan who both had 12. His +/- of +12 topped the team. He had one of the best shooting percentages in the entire NHL with a whopping 19 percent.
Many experts are now evaluating that the Coyotes got the better end of the Keith Yandle trade, seeing that Duclair is a mere 20 years old. His skills are accentuated only by his speed. He rushes to the net with careless abandon, and sneaks under the radar of most team's defense to surprise them when they least expect it.
He's a sure 25-30 goal scorer next season, and the team is fortunate to have him. He had a tag in juniors of maybe being less than a hard worker, but his first full season in the NHL has disproved that. He played 81 games, and performed beyond expectations.
Louis Domingue stepped in when the starter Mike Smith went down with a core muscle injury, which sidelined him for three-four months. Domingue had a reasonably good rookie season with a 15-18-5 record and a goals against average of 2.75. His respectable .912 save percentage showed he is more than ready for the NHL.
The only question for next season will be if Mike Smith can retain his starter's role, or if Domingue will take it away from him. It's not a bad situation to be in, having two goalies who can both be starters. Splitting the starts will keep both netminders strong and ready for each game.
Jordan Martinook was voted the team "hustler" award for his constant pesky play. He is an excellent face-off man finishing fourth on the team with a 54.5 faceoff win percentage. He was a regular on the penalty kill, and fore-checks with the best of them.
He had nine goals, 15 assists in 81 games this past season. Look for him to steadily improve on those numbers as time goes by. And don't forget he is still only 23 years old, with a long NHL career ahead of him.
More youth to help the rebuild
When training camp rolls around (it will be here before you know it) again this fall, the Coyotes will more than likely have new additions to help in the rebuild.
Dylan Strome has done wonders in the OHL for the Erie Otters. He has led his team by scoring 10 goals, eight assists in nine playoff games. Strome connected for five points (three goals, two assists) on Friday in Erie’s series-clinching win over Sault Ste. Marie.
The Otters next face the London Knights, who are led by the other draft choice of the Coyotes, Christian Dvorak. Dvorak has scored six goals, 12 assists in 10 games.
The matchup between the two future Coyotes will be an indication of what to expect for the team next season. Let's just say the center position will be fortified, and when you add Domi and Duclair to that combination the results should be very intriguing.