Coyotes project to be a more exciting, offensive team under Tocchet
Coyotes project to be a more exciting, offensive team under Tocchet

Watching the Coyotes has been the leading cure for Arizona fans' insomnia over the past few years. However, those who relied on the team's dull style of play to fall asleep may need to start looking for new mechanisms, because the Coyotes project to be a more exciting and offensive team than they've ever been before in 2017-18.

And it all starts with the coaching change.

Out is Dave Tippett, a tactical, defensive-minded coach. He never had a whole lot to work with, but didn't exactly push the envelope when it came to generating offense. Here is how they ranked offensively the past three seasons:

Season Goals Shots Scoring Chances For
2016-17 27th 28th 28th
2015-16 24th 29th 26th
2014-15 29th 23rd 24th

(Scoring chances courtesy: naturalstattrick.com)

In fact, during Tippett's eight-year tenure behind the Coyotes' bench, only once did they rank in the top half of the league in goals for.

In comes Rick Tocchet, who is fresh off being the assistant coach of the NHL's most dynamic offense over the past two seasons in Pittsburgh. He's hoping to bring the Penguins' creative style of play with him to the desert.

"I don't want to take the stick out of guys' hands," Tocchet told Sarah McLellan of AZ Central Sports. "We have some creative, young players here. So I want them to be creative. I don't want them to think too much. I want them to play a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure on the opponent."

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

The young players Tocchet is likely referring to - Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, and Clayton Keller, among others - have plenty of skill and should fit in much better with the new regime.

Tocchet reiterated that generating offense won't come at the expense of playing defense.

"I'm not going to sell the farm," he said. "It's not going to be 3-on-1s all night. That's not going to happen. But I think you have to be calculated, and the one thing with these young guys, they're sponges. They want to learn. They want to learn how to practice. They want to learn how to play."

Aside from the coaching change, two offseason acquisitions in particular could jump-start the offense.

Veteran Derek Stepan will make players around him better and allow the younger centers on the team to slot down into more fitting roles. Bringing in Niklas Hjalmarsson should stabilize the back end, and theoretically allow his projected defense partner Oliver Ekman-Larsson to join the rush more frequently.

While grabbing a playoff spot in the Western Conference will be a challenge, the new-look Coyotes aren't a team fans should sleep on this season.

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