It's 2019: What's next for the Arizona Coyotes?
Key players must perform at the highest level (Photo:NHL.com) 

It's 2019: What's next for the Arizona Coyotes?

A new year has arrived in Glendale (AZ) and after an inconsistent year in 2018, the Arizona Coyotes have a lot to prove to have a successful year - yet there can still be light at the end of the tunnel.

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Flávio Fernandes

The morning of a new year provides the opportunity for a brand new start

A quick reflection from what has just passed is necessary as the Arizona Coyotes hold a record of 17-20-2, good for 36 points. That qualifies them for just 7th place in the Pacific Division. When looking at a bigger picture, there are good and bad points to observe.

Compared to the start of 2018/19 season, the team has shown significant improvements not only based on results but on the play on the ice. Some of the important pieces that came from their bright prospect pool are showing clear signs of development in their all-around perspective of their game... in particular Jakob Chychrun. 

Even with the limited amount of games from injuries and also missing the training camp the Florida native has been a strong part of the Coyotes' defense since his return to the line-up. A two-way defenseman, he has had an impact on both ends of the ice.

As the team struggles with injuries and with problems to find the net, his play is paying off along with the confidence of GM John Chayka who signed him to a 6-year deal AV of $4.6 million a year. 

To also highlight key positive points, there is no way to not mention the development of players throughout the Tucson Roadrunners, their AHL affiliate. Many players gained valuable minutes with the NHL team impacting the team's performance. Michael Bunting had his first NHL goal and Conor Garland has two goals and a recent point streak going.

The parade of short-handed goals was great and the team had great achievements while it lasted (in 2018 at least) like a 7-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning one of the best teams in the league, at the moment.

There are many problems to be fixed to avoid committing the same mistakes in 2019

As much as injuries have played a role in the team's lack of success this season, there is a continual problem as the team fails to find the back of the net. Nick Schmaltz was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in an attempt to augment the Coyotes' weak offensive game. He recorded 14 points in 17 games, a fair number but that failed to produce a noticeable impact on his newest teammates.

Some say that the best defense is a great offense and while their penalty kill is the best in the league, the shorthanded goal mentality of attack helps in most situations. The defense has produced a massive number of mistakes that have led to decisive goals in key moments of games. 

There has been an enormous amount of pressure on the team and with the current mix of young and experienced players, it has not been an ideal the stretch of games. Injuries and questioning of the team by fans and media haven't helped.

Alex Galchenyuk who was acquired from Montréal Canadiens is yet to produce what was expected of him when he was brought in to replace Max Domi who went the other way. His struggle with injuries and a slow start personify that characteristic that needs to be changed in order for more wins in 2019.

It is expected also from the key players of the team to perform and guide youngsters such as Clayton Keller, who had a great season last year to perform in a tough second season in the NHL.

What's your prediction for 2019 for the Arizona Coyotes? Will they be able to overcome all the injuries and setbacks they have experienced? Let us know in the comments section below.

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