Chayka-ing things up

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-3Since the Arizona Coyotes follow us on Twitter (shouts to you, Coyotes social media department), I’m going to do my best to keep track of some projections for how their players will perform next season.

And since the season’s not even here yet and I’m not quite as organized as I would like to be to formally present these numbers to you, the reader, I’m just going to leave you with a look at how things might go next season for Arizona.

But that’s not all, I’m not just leaving you with one chart for now, but two charts! One is before John Chayka was hired as the Coyotes general manager and the other incorporates all of the moves Chayka’s made since becoming Arizona’s GM.

Just by giving Chayka’s roster a quick glance it is evident that the Coyotes will be much better this season. Continuous improvement among their youth will be evident as they develop in time, but a huge thing for Arizona next season will be the addition of Alex Goligoski on the blue line.

In fact, nearly all of the defensemen that Chayka picked up for the club will have a solid impact on keeping the score close and limiting the amount of work Mike Smith and Louis Domingue have to put in on a nightly basis.  Closing the gap on the scoring differential is essential to give your offense room to grow, if you’re building from the back-out.

Analytics aside, Chayka has made very tactical moves.

The Coyotes model is clear on building up their defense where necessary, while allowing their young forwards to develop. They aren’t rushing to add any young blue liners, but they did draft Jakob Chychrun, so it’s not like it’ll be too long before Arizona inserts a highly coveted, tactical, young defenseman. Besides, Anthony DeAngelo should be good enough for now, in terms of rotating some youth on the back end this year.

Needless to say, the Coyotes won’t be a number one team, but they’ll certainly be a competitive team that’ll be exciting to watch come February and March (and maybe deep into April too). And there’s a good chance a rookie or two could still surprise us all and crack the roster.

A note about my projections: For each stat, I amass the totals of every season in a player’s NHL career onto a spreadsheet in Excel and simply use the Forecast function, so some stats might not line up with one another in the projected outcome (i.e. shots and shooting percentage). Likewise, if I find something cooler than just using Excel, I’ll figure that out and make changes accordingly. For a better look at the charts, I advise that you zoom-in or click on each chart, thanks.

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Expected performances for the 2016-2017 season of every player on the Arizona Coyotes 2015-2016 roster (regardless of where they are now).

If last year’s team came back to play this year (above), it doesn’t appear they’d be much different than the current roster (below) heading into the 2016-2017 season, except for the fact that Chayka’s a genius on paper so far (contract wise, in relation to performance, that is).

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Expected performances for the 2016-2017 season of every player currently on the Arizona Coyotes roster (including Radim Vrbata, who signed with the team on Tuesday and made me have to adjust more than I had to at first).

Vesey’s Pieces

By: Nick Lanciani

Bad forced play-on-word attempts are my middle name, so in “Vesey’s Pieces” I take a look at what teams have the right pieces in place to lock up Jimmy Vesey on August 15th (if he doesn’t re-sign with the Buffalo Sabres before then).

Here’s a list of teams that could sign Vesey:

Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets

Yes, that list includes Las Vegas, because wouldn’t it be funny if Jimmy Vesey decided to wait another year just to mess with everyone and give him 31 options instead of 30?

Also, I know the salary cap exists, but teams are allowed to exceed the cap by 10% without facing penalty in the offseason. By training camp each organization must be cap compliant, meaning that any team could sign Vesey to the maximum amount of $925,000 on August 15th and spend the rest of the offseason figuring out who they’ll trade or send down to the AHL to fit under the salary cap.

Realistically, let’s take a look at who’s in play, shall we?

The fact of the matter is that Jimmy Vesey’s agent seems to confirm just about anything that’s been asked. Are the Bruins interested? Are the Blackhawks interested? Are the Sabres interested? Is Toronto interested? Does Jimmy think a hot dog is a sandwich?

All of these questions seem to be met with a “yes” or “there’s a mutual interest something something they’re expected to be on the short list something something get out of here with your hot dog takes.”

Enough foolishness aside, Colby Kephart and I agreed on Tuesday in a private conversation that we’re both tired of the media circus that’s become the Vesey Decision 2016. It’s nothing against Vesey as a player, or his right to explore all of his options per the collective bargaining agreement in the manner that he is, but rather it’s the hype that we’re annoyed about.

Nobody is questioning his ability, having amassed 24-22-46 totals in 33 games this season with the Harvard Crimson and 32-26-58 totals the year before that in 37 games played. That’s 104 points in 70 games over his final two seasons with the Crimson, if you can’t do the math. Vesey’s numbers have grown and his playing style has developed as he’s gone through four years at Harvard, in the midst of one of the greatest college hockey cities in the United States- all while not being put against Hockey East universities on the regular, mind you.

That’s not to discredit the ECAC either. Vesey is a college standout. He’s the real deal, but like any prospect, there’s a chance he won’t make as much of an impact as one would expect.

And that is what hinges me from being able to say without a doubt he’s apt to be going to one team or another, because it all depends on how much of a risk teams are willing to take.

Could he sign with his hometown team in Boston? Absolutely, but it’s not like the Bruins won’t be fine offensively if they don’t sign Vesey. Their top-six forwards are Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Matt Beleskey, David Backes and/or Frank Vatrano (which technically breaks the rules of limiting the discussion to just six players if one includes Vatrano).

Would a solidified top-nine make the Bruins a better team? I guess you could say so, but that does nothing to improve their defense.

Buffalo has been trying their hardest to keep Vesey around longer than just for this summer with their Jack Eichel diplomacy, but even there, it’s not like they’ll be that much better of a team or that much worse if they lose out on Vesey for only the cost of a third round pick. Keep in mind Boston traded a third round pick for Zac Rinaldo after all.

The Sabres have a quality roster with the addition of Kyle Okposo this offseason and rising sophomore Eichel and friends. Tim Murray’s been making the right moves as their general manager and this could be the season that they get back into the playoffs if they play their cards right, their guys stay healthy and the right additions without subtracting reveal themselves throughout the season.

They won’t lead the Atlantic Division, because hello, the entire state of Florida is good at hockey right now. Yet Buffalo will definitely be more competitive against a weakened, P.K. Subban-less Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators (who’ll end up overpaying Cody Ceci, just watch), Detroit Red Wings (who’ll probably miss the playoffs for the first time in forever) and Bruins (what’s a defense).

As for Chicago, what are the odds that Vesey will win the Cup in his first season if he signs with them? Pretty great probably, but what are the odds that he’d get traded that offseason or in his first few years in the league from the Blackhawks? Also pretty good, since his last name isn’t Kane, Toews, Panarin, or Hossa (or any of their other core guys).

It’s hard to crack the core in Chicago, even if they are to move Marian Hossa in the coming season(s). But it also looks like poor salary cap management may finally be catching up to them, ignoring the fact that this is what is said every other year about the Blackhawks.

The Maple Leafs seem to be largely at play, what with Auston Matthews being a main attraction and Vesey’s family ties to the organization. While we’re on the subject of Toronto, why not take a look at the Arizona Coyotes who have done everything the Maple Leafs have dreamed of in one offseason at this point?

There’s a great chance he’ll end up with an Original Six team, because that’s where it seems his interest resides. In the end it’s all about the best fit, which could sway Vesey to a team like the Coyotes where he has the chance to standout on the roster and against other teams, if that’s what he’s after. Or he could stay with the Sabres.

Then again, he’ll probably sign with a team none of us expected him to sign with and disappoint every fanbase that was on edge, awaiting a signature on a piece of paper with their team’s logo on it.

But hey, for the record, I’ve never had Reese’s Pieces which might shock you even more than Jimmy Vesey getting your hopes up and signing with a different team. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯