Coyotes season preview: Need young core to emerge to help Chychrun

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The 2021-22 NHL season starts Oct. 12. With training camps opening this week, NHL.com is taking a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Arizona Coyotes.

Coach: Andre Tourigny (first season)

Last season: 24-26-6; fifth place in Honda West Division, did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

3 KEYS

1. Transition at goalie

The Coyotes are turning to Carter Hutton and Josef Korenar to replace goalies Darcy Kuemper, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on July 28, and Antti Raanta, who signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes the same day. Hutton will try to bounce back after he was 1-10-1 with a 3.47 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in 13 games (12 starts) for the Buffalo Sabres last season, one curtailed by injury. Korenar played 10 games as a rookie last season with the San Jose Sharks. If either falters, the door may open for prospect Ivan Prosvetov sooner than expected. The 22-year-old will continue developing with Tucson of the American Hockey League after making his NHL debut and playing three games last season.

2. The emerging young core

Arizona is counting on at least one other young player to blossom after 23-year-old Jakob Chychrun led NHL defensemen with 18 goals and tied Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks for 10th in points (41 in 56 games) last season. The hope is forwards Clayton Keller, 23, and Barrett Hayton, 21, emerge to strengthen an offense that ranked 23rd last season (2.68 goals per game), and defenseman Victor Soderstrom steps in for former captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was traded to Canucks. The 20-year-old from Sweden made his NHL debut (one goal, one assist in four games) and scored 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 32 games for Tucson last season, his first in North America. Jan Jenik will get a long look in training camp. The 20-year-old forward scored one goal in each of his first two NHL games and 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 29 AHL games during his first pro season.

“They’ve got to seize that opportunity for a roster spot and a chance to play higher in the lineup,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said Sept. 7.

Video: Jakob Chychrun joins the show

3. Pay now, win later?

How Andre Tourigny balances a rebuilding program and trying to win now is among the challenges facing the 47-year-old set to coach an NHL team for the first time. The Coyotes traded for 12 draft picks this offseason and used the No. 9 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft to choose forward Dylan Guenther. Tourigny’s forte is player development as a two-time Ontario Hockey League Coach of the Year with Ottawa (2018-19, 2019-20). Immediate success will be difficult with the move from the Pacific Division to the tougher Central Division and potentially another overhaul before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

ROSTER RUNDOWN

Position battles

Veteran forwards will vie for spots in the bottom six. Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel arrived in the trade that sent Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland to the Canucks on July 23. The Coyotes also acquired Andrew Ladd from the New York Islanders and signed Travis Boyd to a one-year contract.

Most intriguing addition

Shayne Gostisbehere has a clean slate after he was traded to Arizona by the Philadelphia Flyers on July 22. The 28-year-old defenseman hopes to recapture the form that made him runner-up in voting for the Calder Trophy given to the NHL Rookie of the Year in 2015-16. Gostisbehere scored an NHL career-high 65 points (13 goals, 52 assists) in 2017-18 before injuries impacted his career with the Flyers.

Biggest potential surprise  

Korenar is a 23-year-old undrafted goalie acquired from the Sharks in a trade for goalie Adin Hill on July 17. Though it’s expected Korenar breaks training camp as Hutton’s backup, his potential may lead to the starter’s role and teaming with Prosvetov to build a foundation at the position. Korenar 3-5-0 with a 3.17 GAA and .889 save percentage in his first 10 NHL games (seven starts) last season.

Ready to break through

Conor Timmins, a 22-year-old defenseman acquired in the Kuemper trade, is expected to see more ice time, possibly paired with Chychrun, coming off a season behind Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Devon Toews and Ryan Graves on the Avalanche depth chart. Timmins helped Canada win the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship by scoring five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games and the game-winning goal to defeat Sweden in the championship game.

Fantasy sleeper

Hayton will likely take on an expanded role after the Coyotes traded forward Christian Dvorak to the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 4. Hayton scored three points (two goals, one assist) in 14 games last season but should now skate in a top-six and first power-play role. The No. 5 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he could be among the Coyotes leaders in points and should be available in the late rounds of deep-league fantasy drafts.Rob Reese

Projected lineup

Clayton Keller — Nick SchmaltzPhil Kessel

Lawson Crouse — Barrett Hayton — Christian Fischer

Ryan DzingelJohan LarssonDmitrij Jaskin

Loui Eriksson — Jay Beagle — Antoine Roussel

Jakob Chychrun — Conor Timmins

Shayne Gostisbehere — Ilya Lyubushkin

Anton Stralman — Victor Soderstrom

Carter Hutton

Josef Korenar

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