Archive for the ‘Phoenix Coyotes’ Category

Heading into the 2007 draft, there was not one clear cut prospect like in some years, 2008 (Stamkos) and 2009 (Tavares) for example. In 2007, there were plenty of good players,  but towards the draft it filtered down to three prospects at the top of the class.  According to NHL’s Central Scouting, the top three (in order) were Kyle Turris, Patrick Kane, James van Riemsdyk.  It seemed like those three would be the top choices, but in which order? And to which teams?

Turris, from Burnaby of the BCHL, was touted as a great skater with a combination of skill and hockey smarts.  Kane’s biggest knock was his size (5’10, 160) but was a scoring machine for London of the OHL.  Van Riemsdyk was a big scoring winger from the US National Development Program that hadn’t finished growing yet.

Philadelphia was in the midst of their worst season in team history and Phoenix had finished its’ third straight season near the bottom of the standings.  Chicago finished last place in their division, but with a bit of luck, won the NHL draft lottery, giving them the #1 pick, followed by the Flyers and Coyotes.

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When the word “captain” is thrown around in hockey, names of stars are mentioned.  Guys like Crosby, Lidstrom, Iginla and Chara are all discussed.  Rarely brought up are blue collar guys like the captains in Phoenix and Winnipeg.

Shane Doan has been with the Winnipeg/Phoenix organization since being drafted in 1995 and was named the team’s captain in 2003.  He’s seemingly been the face of the franchise since the team moved to the desert in 1996.  Doan is in the top three of the franchise’s leaders in goals, assists and points and owns the top spot in all three categories if only Coyotes statistics are counted.

Andrew Ladd is only 25, but already has two Stanley Cup rings, 2006 with Carolina and 2010 with Chicago.  He’s also the (new) Winnipeg Jets captain.  Ladd’s played in his fourth city (third franchise) in the last five seasons.  Jets fans hope that Winnipeg is a long term stop for the left winger.

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Last season: 43-26-13, 99 points, 6th West, lost in first round to Detroit (4-0)

Additions: RW Boyd Gordon, C Daymond Langkow, C Patrick O’Sullivan, G Mike Smith, LW Raffi Torres

Losses: RW Eric Belanger, G Ilya Bryzgalov, LW Vernon Fiddler, D Ed Jovanovski, RW Lee Stempniak

Offense: The offense is still lead by Shane Doan, who is the last remaining original Phoenix Coyote.  He was the only Coyote to hit the 20 goal mark last year and led the team with 60 points.  The ageless Ray Whitney is still able to be counted on for 15-20 goals.  The offense is scattered with 15 goal scorers such as Lauri Korpikoski, Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Taylor Pyatt.  But the roster doesn’t boast anyone who will step up and be a big star for the Coyotes.  Scoring may be at a premium this year for the team, and everyone is going to be counted on to chip in.

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More tidbits from around the NHL and the world of hockey:

Chris Drury (Photo: Getty Images)

– Chris Drury, unable to find a new team, called it a career on Friday. Drury played 892 games in 12 NHL seasons with 4 teams (Colorado, Calgary, Buffalo, New York). He finished with 615 career points (255 goals, 360 assists) He also played internationally in 3 Olympics, 3 IIHF championship tournaments, and 1 World Cup Of Hockey. He earned 2 silver medals in the Olympics, and one bronze in IIHF competition.

– The once highly touted Fabian Brunnström has earned a tryout with The Detroit Redwings. It will be interesting to see if he can finally show some of what was expected when he came to the NHL, or if this will be his last stop.

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Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

Random thoughts after the NHL Draft this past weekend.

– I believe I predicted only one of my 10 selections in our CSH Mock Draft, and that one was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

– I am not completely sold on Winnipeg selecting Mark Schleifele when Coutourier was still on the board. This could be a potential reach.

– The fall of Brandon Saad is going to make it an interesting development for his time with Chicago. Did he just have groin issues that messed up the 2nd half of his draft year or is there more to it?

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We all know who the best players have been the best in the NHL in the 2010-11 season, but who have been some of the worst?  Years ago, I created some “awards” in my old sim league (DCHL), as a semi roast to certain players, GMs and teams.  I took some of these awards,  and created some brand new ones.

First, we start with the Trigger Happy Award, which goes to the GM who has pulled off the most trades in the last year (for the purpose of a starting point, I used 2010’s regular season end to this regular season’s end).  With 18 counted trades, including acquiring (and trading) Dennis Wideman, Dale Tallon of the Florida Panthers is our 2011 winner.  The other GM award, the aptly named You Suck Award goes to Ottawa’s Bryan Murray.  Last summer, Murray signed Sergei Gonchar for 3 years and $16 million, and the 37 year old played like he was 57.  The team plummeted to last place and Murray started the firesale, trying to get what he could for many players.  Some of his deals were to rectify mistakes he had made in the summer, and in previous seasons.  All this, while Daniel Alfredsson remained on the team and his value continued to drop.

Moving on to some statistical awards, the winner of the Broad Street Bully Award goes to Islander Zenon Kenopka, who blew away the field in the penalty minute department, finishing with 307.  Kenopka is the first player to break the 300 PIM barrier since Dan Carcillo in 2007-08.   The Greg Millen Trophy for allowing the most goals in the regular season goes to the Colorado Avalanche.  The team allowed a whopping 287 goals, the most since the 06-07 Flyers.  On the topic of goalies, our Red Light Award for worst goalie of the year (minimum of 20 games) is Rick DiPietro.  DiPietro “lead” the league with a 3.44 GAA, had the second worst save percentage at 88.6% and finished with a record of 8-14-4.

The Bettman Trophy for Villain of the Year was no surprise.  Suspended for 21 games this season within two separate incidents, including missing the entire first round of the playoffs, Matt Cooke easily wins the award.

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After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

The three of us continue our mock draft from Part I (1-15).

16. Buffalo Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London, OHL)
His speed and forechecking will be 2 valuable assets to the Buffalo Sabres system.  Another plus is his ability to switch from center to wing, making him fit on any line with little to no effort.

17. Montreal Zack Phillips, C (St. John, QMJHL)
Centering the top line at St John’s and improving his linemates scoring outputs in addition to his own makes him a great option if still available at #17.

18. Chicago Tomas Jurco, RW (St. John, QMJHL)
What hands he has, a real whiz with the puck.  A Youtube star already.

19. Edmonton Oscar Klefbom, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Will be a great addition to Edmonton’s defense, he adds decent size (6’4″, 200lbs), and a nice shot to the blueline.

20. Phoenix Joel Armia, RW (Assat, SML)
An intriguing prospect that can appear quite high for many teams from the 10 pick onward. His combination of size and skill would complement Phoenix well.

21. Ottawa John Gibson, G (USA U-18)
Already 6’3, 205 at age 17, he covers up a lot of net.  Lead USA to gold at the U18s.

22. Anaheim Brandon Saad, LW (Saginaw, OHL)
The Ducks will love Saad’s ability on the ice, speed is his greatest asset. Has a nice balance of offensive/defensive ability.

23. Pittsburgh Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW (Oshawa, OHL)
A strong skater with good scoring ability at the RW will fit well for the Pens in due time under a Dan Byslma system. Add in his size and you also may have a future net front presence.

24. Detroit Jonas Brodin, D (Farjestad, SEL)
Brodin is a good skating, two-way defenseman.  Plays a smart game in his end, and will fit right in with Detroit.

25. Toronto Boone Jenner, C (Oshawa, OHL)
The Leafs are going to love this guy, a shot blocker, board battler, and he’s not too bad at scoring either. And more all around good players, is exactly what Toronto needs in their system.

26. Washington Mark Scheifele, C (Barrie, OHL)
His size and skill down the middle would fit the Capitals to a T. As they recently have had an abundance of big players who still have skill and speed.

27. Tampa Bay Jamieson Oleksiak, D (Northeastern, HE)
The 6’7, 245 monster may need some more time to develop, but could eventually be Tampa’s Twin Towers with Hedman.

28. San Jose Scott Mayfield, D (Youngstown, USHL)
Extremely sturdy on his feet, smart, great puck carrier, but never afraid to fight or deliver a big hit when it’s needed. Could be huge for the Sharks in the future.

29. Vancouver Jonathan Miller, C (USA U-18)
While the Canucks can use a pure scorer in their talent pool. This late in the first round they may have to accept a project of a good two-way player who didn’t quite put it all together this past season. A worthwhile risk.

30. Toronto Tyler Biggs, RW (USA U-18)
A big, physical forward that likes to use his size and isn’t afraid to work hard.  Definitely a Brian Burke player.

Cujo picks: 16,19,22,25,28
Joey picks: 17,20,23,26,29
RD picks: 18,21,24,27,30

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov Tuesday night, trading AHL prospect Matt Clackson and a 2012 3rd round choice, along with another conditional draft pick to Phoenix.

The Coyotes won’t resign the free agent Clackson, as the Flyers had to throw a currently contracted player in the deal so they would not go over the NHL’s 50 contract limit.

Bryzgalov went 36-20-10 with a 2.48 GAA and a 92.1 save percentage in 2010-11.  He also posted 7 shutouts, compared to the Flyers 0 this season.  For his career, split between the Ducks and Coyotes, he is 156-116-35, with a career GAA of 2.53.  Bryzgalov has 23 career shutouts and a 91.6 save percentage.  In 27 career playoff games, he has gone 12-13, winning a Stanley Cup as the Ducks’ backup in 2007.  He has three playoff shutouts, all with the Ducks in their improbable 2006 run to the Western Conference Finals.  Bryzgalov failed to win a playoff series with Phoenix, losing back to back years against Detroit.

Will Bryzgalov be the answer?  The Flyers have to sign him first.  No numbers are official, but it seems he is looking for a deal for $5m to $6m.  Can the Flyers afford that type of money with their current roster? With a quick estimate at Capgeek, if Bryzgalov signs for $5.5m, and Ian Laperriere is put on LTIR, the team will have about $650,000 to fill three to five roster spots.  That won’t happen.  So someone will be the odd man out, whether that is Jeff Carter ($5.3m), Matt Carle ($3.4m), Kris Versteeg ($3.1m), another player, or a combination, remains to be seen.  It would also mean that free agent Ville Leino would not be resigned.  On Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch hinted that the Flyers and Blue Jackets could be trade partners for Columbus’ #8 pick.  Could the Flyers trade a high priced player for the pick? Possibly. GM Paul Holmgren has two weeks before the NHL Draft to see what he can do with Bryzgalov before making his next move.

If signed, the Flyers would have three goalies battling for two NHL spots next year.  Bryzgalov would surely have the #1 job, while Sergei Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton battle for the backup job.  Bobrovsky would benefit from being the starter in  Adirondack, as compared to playing only 20 games with the Flyers.  In addition, Bobrovsky’s cap hit ($1.75m) is slightly larger than Leighton’s ($1.55m), so the team could save some money there.

What happens if the Flyers can’t get a deal done with Bryzgalov? Perhaps they trade his rights to another team, like they did with Dan Hamhuis last year.  And what does this mean for the Coyotes?  They’ll have to add a goaltender, as Jason Labarbera is their only signed goaltender, and he surely won’t carry the load.