Phoenix Coyotes: 5 Questions Heading into Camp

Michael JenkinsContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2013

Phoenix Coyotes: 5 Questions Heading into Camp

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    With the NHL season right around the corner, the Phoenix Coyotes will begin their abbreviated training camp this week in the Valley of the Sun.

    The team will look to build on last season's monumental success as it tries to defend its Pacific Division title and return to the playoffs, continuing the quest for hockey's holy grail, the Stanley Cup.

    This article will explore five pressing questions the Coyotes will examine as they head into the season.

Sale of the Team

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    Mr. Greg Jamison,

    You have had all offseason to get your deal done and now with the agreement on the new CBA, just finalize the sale already so some stability can be brought to this franchise for the first time in years.

    The last we have been told is that the former San Jose Sharks CEO is getting his i's dotted and his t's crossed so that he can wrap this sale up and purchase the team (via Phoenix Business Journal).

    This will allow the team to focus on the season at hand and potentially allow for some flexibility in salary issues that it has not had in past years.

New Additions

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    According to Coyotes general manager Don Maloney, the Desert Dogs have been working the phones trying to add some scoring in recent days since the CBA has been agreed to and the lockout has ended.

    With Jamison's takeover almost complete, Maloney might have been given permission to spend some money in the market.

    According to Sarah McLellan at the Arizona Republic, Maloney was believed to have almost completed a deal that would have rectified one of the squad's biggest weaknesses: scoring goals.

    The position that Maloney would like to add seems to be center. He told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday that the deal might resurrect itself at some point.

    "We would like to improve up front,” Maloney said. “That’s no secret. To win a championship, you have to be strong through the middle of the ice, and if there was something that falls our way, sure.”

    The re-acquisition of Matthew Lombardi today strengthens the center of the Coyotes offense. The 30-year-old veteran played last season in Toronto and had his best NHL season in a Coyotes sweater in 2009-10, when he racked up 53 points.

    The speedy and shifty Lombardi has also spent some time at the wing position during his career. Where he will play and who he will play with will probably be determined in camp.

    Whether or not the Coyotes are done making additions to their roster is yet to be determined. But this goes to show you that when Maloney gives his word about making a deal, he usually keeps it.

Sixth Defenseman

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    One of the great things about the squad this year is its depth, especially at defense. The top five defenders are relatively secure in their jobs. Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zbynek Michalek, Derek Morris and Rostislav Klesla will be the top five defensemen.

    The battle for the sixth through eighth positions will be huge as the Coyotes plan to keep as many as eight defensemen during the season to rotate into the position and keep guys fresh.

    David Schlemko, Michael Stone, David Rundblad, Chris Summers and Brandon Gormley are those who will compete in camp to play in that sixth spot. But with eight spots being critical to the team's plans, the ninth defenseman might be packing his bags.

    On the Coyotes, the ninth defenseman still can play in the NHL. In my opinion, Summers is the odd man out, but calls will come in about the other four if one does not figure into the team's plans.

    If the Coyotes can swing a deal featuring whichever defenseman is not part of the team's plans this season for a scoring forward, they will be that much closer to achieving their goals.

Smith's Magic

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    Mike Smith was the main reason the Coyotes played late into the postseason. Period. End of discussion.

    The Coyotes goaltender was outstanding during the regular season and took his play to another level in the playoffs. To say that Smith played in a ridiculous fashion would not be an understatement.

    The question is, can he repeat his heroics for the team this season?

    Smith is going to need to play near that level for the team to be as successful as last season.

    Although Smith should be motivated since it's a contract year, following up last year's performance will be very difficult to accomplish.

Roster Surprises

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    Will there be any roster surprises this season?

    Can Alex Bolduc, Rob Klinkhammer or Andy Miele play themselves onto this team?

    Does Paul Bissonnette have a role with this team this season?

    Can David Moss prove that he will be a consistent scorer in this league? Better yet, can he stay healthy?

    Can Steve Sullivan beat back Father Time and produce another 45-plus-point season?

    Can Shane Doan avoid a slide in production due to wear-and-tear from a stellar but physically demanding career?

    Can Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal live up to their potential?

    All of these questions can be placed in the category of roster surprises, because as the season gets started, many of the lines may change if certain guys aren't producing.

    In fact, don't be surprised if, with so little room for error, management doesn't try to find quick solutions to problems at the beginning of the season.