Arizona Coyotes: 2014-2015 NHL Risers and Fallers
Arizona Coyotes: 2014-2015 NHL Risers and Fallers
Year after year, we see change happen before our eyes. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. Whether good or bad, we must adapt to these changes in order to not just survive, but to thrive so we can live our lives to the fullest. How an individual deals with change varies, but mostly, we all rely on our what we know, our instincts. The more we know about something, the less risk there is, and the better we can make calculated decisions. And in this case, calculated predictions.
With that in mind, in the coming weeks I’ll be taking a look at each NHL team featuring 10 of its players. Are the destined to rise or destined to fall? Your questions will be answered below.
LW – Mikkel Boedkker (neutral): It took longer than expected, but the Danish winger finally broke out this past season, posting 51 points over 82 games played. With Vrbata off to Vancouver, Boedkker is now the biggest threat the Coyotes have on the wing. In the defense-first system Coyotes, for Boedkker to get any more points than in the mid-50s would be difficult. Look for Boedkker to be right around where he was last year.
RW – Shane Doan (falling): In 2015, Doan will be turning 39. Like anything good in life, eventually it comes to an end.
LW – Max Domi (rising): Holds onto the puck a little long, doesn’t pass enough, and his attitude can be questionable at times, yet the Coyotes still picked him 12th overall in 2013. Why? Combine his shot, speed, physicality, and hockey IQ and he is a force to be reckoned with. With Vrbata signing in Vancouver, the Coyotes now lack a true goal scorer and the Coyotes have yet to sign one. Expect Tippet to give Domi a hard look at training camp this September.
D – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (rising): If I could choose one defenseman to build a franchise around between Yandle or Ekman-Larsson, it would be the latter of the two. It won’t be long before Ekman-Larsson takes the reins, whether Yandle is traded or he isn’t.
C – Sam Gagner (rising): It was only a day before NHL Free Agency Day, when Gagner was shipped to Tampa Bay in exchange for right-wing Teddy Purcell. Minutes later, Tampa then flipped him to Phoenix for a 6th (conditional) round pick, while retaining $1.6-million of his salary each year. Over the past few seasons, Gagner’s name has been thrown around a lot in trade rumours, but then settled down when he signed his new contract. In Phoenix, Gagner’s quality of linemates will be a step back, but combine more minutes and a change of scenery, Gagner should see a small increase in production.
D – Brandon Gormley (rising): After a couple years of seasoning in the AHL, and a 5-game NHL stint in 2013-14, Gormley will look to make the NHL-jump this year. Question is not “if” Gormley plays NHL, but “when” the former 13th overall pick does.
C – Martin Hanzal (neutral): In the first 23 games of the season, Hanzal posted 24 points. In the 42 games remaining? 16 points. Hanzal is not more of one player than the other, but rather, somewhere in between. Because Hanzal does a lot of good things not seen on the score sheet (penalty killing, checking) so he gets a lot of tough minutes, making his offensive production susceptible to fluctuations. With 40 points on the season, this marks a career year for the 27-year old Czech centreman. Entering his prime, look for him to carry on from last year.
G – Mike Smith (neutral): As long as Smith is on the Coyotes, his numbers will never be terrible, rarely will they ever be great. Expect similar numbers from the Kingston native.
C – Antoine Vermette (falling): With the acquisition of Sam Gagner after the Ribeiro buyout, any chance Vermette had at moving up the depth chart has been seriously diminished. With that in mind, and the fact he isn’t getting any younger (turns 33 in 2015), he may be on the other side of his career.
D – Keith Yandle (neutral): Yandle led the Coyotes in scoring last year, totaling 52 points, a career-year for the blueliner. Yandle is one of the league’s top offensive defensemen, and what’s more impressive is that he does this all on an abysmal Coyotes squad. Look for Yandle to lead (or come close to leading) the Coyotes again in 2014-15.
G – Devan Dubnyk (falling): Going from Edmonton’s #1 goalie, to spot starts in Nashville, to no starts in Montreal, and now backup to Mike Smith in Phoenix, the goalie’s stock has dropped tremendously. He will not beat out Mike Smith, but he is better off in Phoenix than in Nashville or Montreal as he will get the starts.
LW/RW – Martin Erat (falling): Since he was traded from Nashville his play has noticeably dropped. Combine having to adjust to a new system from where he is comfortable (played for Nashville from 2001-2013), and factor in his age (turns 34 net year) – his best days are over.
LW – Lauri Korpikoski (neutral): A couple years removed from two near 20-goal seasons (19 goals in 2010-2011, 17 goals in 2011-12), he’s hasn’t broken 10 goals since. If he can play a full season in the top-6 he could come close again. But that’s a big “if”.
RW – David Moss (neutral): After letting go Vrbata to free agency, Phoenix re-signed Moss to a one year deal worth $800,000. At this point in his career, Moss is a 3rd-liner at best so don’t expect he takes over Vrbata’s spot.
D – Connor Murphy (rising): Murphy, a 2011 draftee (1st round, 20th overall) played 30 games for the Coyotes last year, 25 more games than teammate Brandon Gormley did, jumping him on the depth chart.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions in the comment section below. Your thoughts are welcomed.