Vancouver Canucks 2017-18 season preview: Arizona Coyotes edition

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 08: Shane Doan
GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 08: Shane Doan /

The Vancouver Canucks found themselves in a heated rivalry against the Arizona Coyotes this past season… in a race to the bottom of the standings, that is.

In many sense, the divisional rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes is nearly non-existent. In comparison to the rivalries involving the Californian teams and the Albertan teams, the Canucks and the Coyotes don’t have a sense of open resentment for each other.

But the two clubs now stand on common ground, both looking to come off of seasons that resulted in bottom-three finishes in the entire league. Both are looking to get young, although with different approaches.

Vancouver is looking to fill up the roster with competitiveness, liberally bringing back and signing veterans to the roster before making room for the young ones. It is a slow and moderate process here in Van City.

Arizona, however, is stockpiling much of their roster with their farm system and is using an analytics model to make executive decisions, making quick and decisive trades to identify needs.

In that sense, each game between these two clubs will be a battle of rebuild philosophies.

The Coyotes, alongside the Canucks, were among the worst teams in the league last year, in the bottom-five of most statistical categories.

Let’s see what the Coyotes did this offseason to better themselves after missing the playoffs the past five years.

Offseason Changes

These moves show that the Arizona Coyotes are making a final push to be a winning franchise so that the seats will fill up again. They also attempt to fill the void left behind by Shane Doan‘s retirement with new veteran core. In view of the Golden Knights and their roster, it is a real possibility that Vancouver will finish last in the Pacific Division in 2017-18.

Arizona Coyotes (30-42-10, 6th in Pacific Division)

2016-17 vs. Vancouver
  • (3-2) Vancouver, Nov. 17 @Vancouver
  • (4-1) Vancouver, Nov. 23 @Arizona
  • (3-0) Vancouver, Jan. 4 @Vancouver
  • (3-0) Arizona, Jan. 26 @Arizona
  • (4-3) Arizona, Apr. 6 @Arizona

2017-18 vs. Vancouver

  • Feb. 25 @Arizona
  • Mar. 7 @Vancouver
  • Mar. 11 @Arizona
  • Apr. 5 @Vancouver

The Canucks and the Coyotes don’t play their first game against each other until the end of February. This would make things interesting if either one of these teams are in the hunt for the wildcard. With three games in two weeks, don’t be surprised if some bad blood starts boiling between the two of them.

Another reason this matchup could get interesting is the fact that both of the games in Arizona are first of back-to-backs for the Canucks who play in Colorado and Minnesota after their games in Arizona.

3 Storylines to Watch in 2017-18

1. No Doan, none doin’?

With the news of long-time Coyotes captain and star’s retirement from the NHL, a big question mark looms large in the young Coyotes locker room surrounding leadership. Martin Hanzal and Doan have left while Hjalmarsson and Stepan have brought a winning core to the desert.

More from The Canuck Way

Will the youth and the new veteran core be able to stay together in harmony?

2. Newell Brown: From ARI to VAN

The Canucks hired assistant coach Newell Brown, the mastermind behind the deadly Vancouver power play in the days of the President Trophies.

He is back in town after a stint with the Arizona Coyotes. Will he bring the magic back with him and share his insight into beating this Coyotes team?

I personally think that there are too many changes in the Coyotes team for Brown to offer up any useful insights. But he already may have made an influence on the Canucks’ decision-making. I look at Alexander Burmistrov as a signing brought on by Brown from their season in Arizona.

3. Bo Horvat vs. Max Domi: The Faces of the Rebuilds

As already mentioned, these two clubs are taking to different approaches to the same goal. As the most promising player, Bo Horvat faces a player in Max Domi in Arizona who was selected just three picks after he was. If Horvat is the face of the franchise in Vancouver, Domi is in a similar role in Arizona.

So far, Horvat has been able to impress against the Coyotes. He will need to continue to do the same and make sure Domi is contained on the ice.

Next: 30-in-30 Anaheim Ducks Preview

The Canucks were decent against the Coyotes but they will have to be better to maintain a similar record since the Coyotes team has become a lot better over the offseason. It is common sense that if a team wants to make the playoffs, it will need to be great against their division rivals.