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The Shane Doan saga could go a long way towards determining where the Coyotes finish in 2013
Key Additions: Zybnek Michalek (Pittsburgh Penguins); Steve Sullivan (Pittsburgh Penguins); David Moss (Calgary Flames); Nick Johnson (Minnesota Wild)
Key Losses: Ray Whitney (Dallas Stars); Adrian Aucoin (Columbus Blue Jackets); Taylor Pyatt (New York Rangers)
Two words, one name. All that Coyotes fans want to hear is that Doan will resign with the Desert Dogs. All Doan wants to hear is that the team has the funding to remain in Phoenix. Neither of the two have come to fruition as of yet. While Doan is not a superstar, he is the glue that holds the team in Phoenix together and will be impossible to replace in the short term. Not only on the ice, but in the community.
The Coyotes' offense could not really afford to lose any of their production, which made it such a crushing blow to lose leading scorer Ray Whitney to Dallas. If they lose Doan to free agency, they will have lost their top two scorers from last season.
Others will need to pick up the slack on offense. The Coyotes will need more offense from wingers Mikkel Boedker and Lauri Korpikoski and centers Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal to make up for the loss of Whitney. All of the new additions need to come in ready to produce from the beginning of the year if the Coyotes are to improve on their one glaring deficiency, which is offensive production.
The Coyotes have a great foundation on the back end. They have a great mix of veterans and youngsters on defense led by Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris. Rusty Klesla and Michalek make up a group of five solid blue-liners. A talented corps of up-and-coming young defensemen will battle for that sixth and final defensive spot. David Schlemko, Michael Stone, Chris Summers and Brandon Gormley are all names to watch for to fill that final spot.
The Coyotes got a fantastic year out of goaltender Mike Smith last season. The question is, can he duplicate his stellar efforts? Smith dug deep throughout the season and produced a magical display of goaltending throughout the regular season and the playoffs.
I picked the Coyotes above the Ducks for two reasons.
I think Doan will resign with the Coyotes and bring a sense of normalcy back to the team that is coming off its best season in franchise history.
I think the Coyotes have the best coach in the division in Dave Tippett. To see first-hand what he has done without a ton of top notch talent is mind-blowing. Without a doubt, it's the most impressive three-year run I have ever seen.
But, I expect Mike Smith to come back to reality this season from his unreal form at the end of last season and with the lack of scoring, it will be tough for the Coyotes to duplicate last season's success