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New-look Coyotes looking for turnaround

September 27, 2017
FILE - In this April 2, 2107, file photo, Arizona Coyote defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), of Sweden, passes the puck as Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (39), of Sweden, defends during an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles. Ekman-Larsson is expected to take over a leadership role with the new-look Coyotes, who underwent massive changes after Andrew Barroway took over as sole owner. (AP Photo/Richard Hartog, File)
FILE - In this April 2, 2107, file photo, Arizona Coyote defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), of Sweden, passes the puck as Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (39), of Sweden, defends during an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles. Ekman-Larsson is expected to take over a leadership role with the new-look Coyotes, who underwent massive changes after Andrew Barroway took over as sole owner. (AP Photo/Richard Hartog, File)

ARIZONA COYOTES

LAST SEASON: 30-42-10, 70 points. Sixth in Pacific Division

COACH: Rick Tocchet (first season, third NHL season).

ADDED: C Derek Stepan, D Niklas Hjalmarsson, G Antti Raanta, D Adam Clendening, D Jason Demers.

LOST: F Shane Doan, F Radim Vrbata, G Mike Smith, D Connor Murphy, D Anthony DeAngelo, F Jamie McGinn.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Raanta. He was a solid backup to Henrik Lundqvist with the New York Rangers, going 16-8-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average last season. Now he gets a chance to carry the load of being a No. 1 goalie after the Coyotes acquired him and traded away Mike Smith, their No. 1 goalie the previous six seasons. How he handles it will determine how quickly the franchise can turn around.

OUTLOOK: The Coyotes made drastic changes during the offseason, trading away Smith, parting ways with coach Dave Tippett and deciding not to re-sign longtime captain Shane Doan. Most of their moves appear to be upgrades, particularly the additions of Hjalmarsson, a steady defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup champion, and Stepan, the top-line center they’ve been seeking for years. If everything comes together, the Coyotes should at least make a push toward ending their five-year playoff-less streak.

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