Expectations are low if not non-existent for the Arizona Coyotes this season. After starting 0-4-1 with a league-worst -17 goal differential, the only expectation for the ’Yotes could be a last-place finish. This should not come as surprise either; Arizona’s entire offseason was about off-loading talent, using its salary-cap space, adding draft picks and prospects and not committing to any long-term free agent deals. More than half of the current roster will be unrestricted free agents next summer as Arizona is fully committed to not just to a rebuild but to a complete overhaul.
After dealing away both Darcy Kuemper and Adin Hill and letting Antti Raanta walk, the Coyotes started fresh in net this season. While 25-year-old Czech import Karel Vejmelka has drawn the headlines after winning a roster spot and earning more time and better numbers thus far, it is veteran Carter Hutton who was tapped as the new starter albeit on a one-year deal. While the Yotes’ plan is clearly not to contend in any manner this season, if they don’t want to completely isolate their fan base then they need to at least stay competitive, and Hutton gives them that chance – despite some abysmal numbers early on this season.
Well, Hutton might now be unavailable. Hutton suffered a lower-body injury on Monday night and was forced from the game after the first period, the team announced. No further update has been revealed, but any extended absence would be a tough blow for the Coyotes, even though it contributes to their primary goal of contending for a top pick next year. The Coyotes are giving up a lot of shots early this season, and it is not a situation in which a young goalie is likely to thrive. Yet, behind Vejmelka would be either 23-year-old Josef Korenar, who struggled in 10 games with the San Jose Sharks last season, and 22-year-old Ivan Prosvetov, who took his lumps in three games with the ’Yotes last season. Things could get even uglier in the desert if Hutton is out long-term, so hopefully the injury is not serious.
The Coyotes also lost young defenseman Conor Timmins to injury in the same game, one of the few players on the roster Arizona really wanted and needed to play a major role this season as a potential future top-four blue liner. Things are not going well in Arizona right now.