We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the Phoenix Coyotes.
By: Ken Will
2013 Season: 21-18-9, 51 pts (4th Pacific Division, 10th Western Conference)
The Phoenix Coyotes are staying put…for now (turner.com)
Free Agents Signed:
W Brandon Yip from Nashville
F Tim Kennedy from San Jose
G Thomas Greiss from San Jose
C Mike Ribeiro from Washington
Free Agents Lost:
F Alexandre Bolduc to St. Louis
W Chris Conner to Pittsburgh
W Nick Johnson to Boston
G Chad Johnson to Boston
C Boyd Gordon to Edmonton
G Jason LaBarbera to Edmonton
C Max Domi
C Henrik Samuelsson
RW Jordan Szwarz
LW Chris Brown
D Brandon Gormley
D David Rundblad
The Phoenix Coyotes went into the 2013 season with post-season hope and a lot to prove. Fresh off a Pacific Division Championship and a run to the Western Conference finals, Phoenix was determined to compete once again in the lockout shortened season. Like a lot of teams, the Coyotes had a mediocre start coming out of the shortened training camp, but managed to stay in the playoff picture through the first month. Then franchise goaltender Mike Smith was sidelined with a lower-body injury and things would only get worse from there.
The Coyotes aren’t losing much. Boyd Gordon is the key figure here. In his place will be center Mike Ribeiro who signed as a free agent. Ribeiro score 13 goals and 36 assists with Washington last season while adding key leadership to the Capitals dressing room. The Coyotes are far from lacking when it comes to experience up the middle as veterans Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Kyle Chipchura round out the center position.
Brandon Yip is looking forward to a fresh start with his new team (Puckscene.com)
Phoenix’s wingers aren’t scary to look at on paper–but like the centers, they bring plenty of experience. Radim Vrbata, Lauri Korpikoski and captain Shane Doan are familiar names in the top six. Mikkel Boedker was the youthful scoring touch last season and signed an extension with the Coyotes during the offseason. The Coyotes are hoping that the addition of Brandon Yip will provide some jump in their third and fourth lines.
The strength of the Coyotes will once again be their defensive corps. Headlined by Oliver Ekman-Larssen and Keith Yandle, who accounted for 54 points over the course of 96 games between them last season. That may not seem like much, but it is when you consider that only one player on the Coyotes roster cracked 30 points last season, and that was Keith Yandle. But the team defense will have to be solid if they want to compete in the Pacific division. Guys like former Penguins Zbynek Michalek, Derek Morris, Michael Stone, David Schlemko and Rostislav Klesla will need to protect Mike Smith or whoever is guarding the Phoenix cage.
The biggest offseason move of the season was one that happened within the Glendale City Council. The Coyotes were given the closest thing to long term stability that they’ve had in quite some time. Time will tell whether or not it will make a difference on the team’s draw at the box office, but at least the players know that they will be staying put and can focus on the game without distraction.