Although the weather doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour and spotlight one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
After running neck and neck with the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference in 2013-14, the Arizona Coyotes -- then the Phoenix Coyotes -- lost seven of their final 10 games and missed the postseason by two standings points. Head coach Dave Tippett once again drew blood from a stone, getting enough offense out of mediocre talent to put the club in a position to sneak into the playoffs, but he was let down by his defense, which ranked 23rd in shots against per game.
The offseason saw a somewhat surprising buyout of Mike Ribeiro, who had just signed a long-term contract last summer, and a trade for forward Sam Gagner. In sum, the offseason moves did not make Arizona a more dangerous offense team, so they will once again rely on star defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle to drive their offense.
The Coyotes are not in a position with their ownership or fans to start trading away pieces to grab a spot in the draft lottery, but Tippett will have to get the most out of an average roster to have a chance to slip into the playoffs.
Trending Up: Keith Yandle, D
Last season: 8.2 GVT
VUKOTA Projection: 10.2 GVT