The Phoenix Coyotes' 2009-10 Season Preview

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The Phoenix Coyotes' 2009-10 Season Preview
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Let's get a move on with the Phoenix Coyotes, which play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

I wanted to wait until today to write this review because it was supposed to be when the auction for the Coyotes was to take place. I was hoping that I might be able to tell you all where this team was going to play in the future. It is pretty much too late to move this team now but the many twists and turns of this story, one can never say anything for sure.

At this point, it appears to be down to two groups but this is the way it was suppose to be from the beginning.  Gary Bettman and the other 29 ownership groups versus Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion, the makers of everyone’s favourite Blackberry. 

We should know by October 1st, which proposal Bankruptcy Judge Redfield T. Baum is going to accept but we thought today might be the day as well.

Let’s talk about the players now and actually attempt to preview the action on the ice for the Phoenix Coyotes. 

The Coyotes have an experienced defense core. Led by Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer, the average age of the potential starting six is 29-years old. The forwards should have as many five players still under entry-level contracts. The goaltending tandem of Bryzgalov and Labarbara are both 29-years of age as well. 

Let’s take a look at what moves G.M. Maloney was able to make, and see which players will be a part of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009-10.

Significant Additions

Some of the significant additions that the Coyotes have made during the off-season are as follows: Adrian Aucoin and Jim Vandermeer (Calgary), Lauri Korpikoski (NY Rangers), Vernon Fiddler (Nashville), Jason LaBarbara (Vancouver) and Radim Vrbata (Tampa Bay).

Significant Deletions

Some of the significant roster deletions that have moved on from Phoenix are as follows: Nigel Dawes, Garth Murray, Brian McGrattan and Brandon Prust (Calgary), Todd Fedoruk and David Hale (Tampa Bay), Steven Goertzen (Carolina), Ryan Lannon (Minnesota), Enver Lisin (NY Rangers), Steven Reinprecht (Florida) and Dmitri Kalinin (Russia).

There are four former Coyote Players that have yet to sign deals with another franchise. They are: Alex Bourret, Ken Klee, Joakim Lindstrom and Derek Nesbitt.

The Projected 2009–10 Phoenix Coyotes roster

The Coyotes currently have 17 players under one-way contracts; eight forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders. The six players that are most likely to fill out the roster, that are on two-way contracts are as follows. It would most likely be six forwards. These players are;

Kyle Turris is a 20 year-old native of New Westminster, B.C. The Centerman is entering his second professional season and split last year between the Coyotes and the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. During his NHL career, he has appeared in 66 games, scoring eight goals and adding 12 assists.

Mikkel Boedker is a 19 year-old native of Brondby, Denmark. The Left Winger is entering his second professional season and last year spent the season with the Coyotes.  During his NHL career, he has appeared in 78 games, scoring 11 goals and adding 17 assists.

Peter Mueller is a 21 year-old native of Bloomington, Minnesota. The Right Winger is entering his third professional season and has spent the last two seasons with the Coyotes. During his NHL career, he has appeared in 153 games, scoring 35 goals and adding 55 assists.

Viktor Tikhonov is a 21 year-old native of Riga, Latvia. The Right Winger is entering his second professional season and split the season between the Coyotes and the Rampage. During his NHL career, he has appeared in 61 games, scoring eight goals and adding eight assists.

Martin Hanzal is a 22 year-old native of Pisek, Czech Republic. The Centerman is entering his third professional season and has spent the last two seasons with the Coyotes. During his NHL career, he has appeared in 146 games, scoring 19 goals and adding 47 assists.

Daniel Winnik is a 24 year-old native of Toronto, Ontario. The Centerman is entering his fourth professional season and entering his third season with the Coyotes. During his NHL career, he has appeared in 128 games, scoring 14 goals and adding 19 assists.

With these 23 players, the Coyotes’ Salary Cap would sit at $45.1 million. If you take the bonuses off of the calculation, it would only give the Coyotes approximately $14.1 million in cap space but don't look for the cash-strapped hockey club to spend that money until a new owner is guaranteed.    

Between 2005 and 2008, the Coyotes had six first round picks. With the exceptions of Nick Ross (30th Overall in the `07 Draft) and Chris Summers (29th overall in the `06 Draft), the other four are currently on the Coyotes` roster. Now let’s take a look at what the Coyotes’ have left for prospects in the organization.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Ekman-Larsson is an 18 year-old native of Karlskrona, Sweden. The Coyotes` Defenseman was the team`s first round pick (sixth overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. 

It is likely that Ekman-Larsson will spend the season in Sweden before coming over to North America next year. Watch for him to play for Sweden, at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan.

According to NHL European Scouting Service: "Oliver likes to play offensively, often carrying the puck into the neutral zone. He has the frame, speed and skill to dominate.

"He is a smooth skater and can handle the puck at top speed, but needs to use his size to his advantage more.He often quarterbacks the power-play and has a hard shot from the blue line."

Brett MacLean

MacLean is a 20 year-old native of London, Ontario. The Coyotes` Left Winger was the team`s second round pick (32nd overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. MacLean is entering his second professional season and will likely start the season, with the Rampage in the AHL.

According to Hockeysfuture.com: "MacLean`s solid hands and an ability to finish are the London native's strong points, while a less-refined skating technique is something that needs to be worked on for him to get to the next level."

Jonas Ahnelov

Ahnelov is a 21 year-old native of Huddinge, Sweden. The Coyotes` Defenseman was the team`s third round pick (88th Overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Ahnelov is entering his second professional season and will likely start the season with the Rampage of the AHL.

According to Hockeysfuture.com: "What makes many so intrigued by Ahnelov is the way he combines his speed and passing skills with a pretty nasty physical game. He likes to play the body and has good timing in his hits.

"Ahnelov, who is an aggressive player, is offensive minded and likes to follow the rush. Usually he is very effective and difficult to stop when he reaches full speed, as he is a very capable skater. His passing game is above average and overall his offensive skills are quite exciting. On the downside, he makes quite a bit of mistakes defensively."

Kevin Porter

Porter is a 23 year-old native of Detroit, Michigan. The Coyotes` Centerman was the team`s fourth round pick (119th Overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.  Porter is entering his third professional season and split last year between the Coyotes and the Rampage.  He will likely start the season in the AHL and be one of the team`s first injury call-ups.

According to Hockeysfuture.com: "With a tremendous amount of ability and skill, Porter has continued to transform into one of the top two-way players in the nation. He’s a top-six forward at the collegiate level and he may be able to make an equal transition as a pro.

"He has good hands, great vision and a great flow to his game. He can find ways to score, but does a better job setting up his linemates. He is a confident player, makes good decisions and has a solid work ethic."

Chris Summers

Summers is a 21 year-old native of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Coyotes` Defenseman was the team`s first round pick (29th Overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Summers is entering his fourth season at the University of Michigan.

According to Hockeysfuture.com: "Summers is a multi-talented defenseman who has above average skills and effortless skating ability. He's a relentless rearguard who has a keen ability to read situations quickly and react accordingly.

"He's projected as a stifling stay-at-home defenseman, but with his ability to skate and read the game as well as he does, he could possibly start to slide into the mold of a Scott Niedermayer type of defenseman. Summers also has the ability to play forward, something he has excelled at in the past."

Recap of 2008-09

At the NHL`s All-Star break last season, the Coyotes held a playoff spot in the Western Conference but the Coyotes finished the season tied for fourth place in the Pacific Division and finished 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 36-39-7, good for 79 points. 

The Coyotes had a player that broke the 30-goal plateau and they had six players that finished with double digit goals. Last season the Coyotes were lead by Shane Doan (31 goals, 42 assists and 73 points.

The Coyotes` offense was 26th in the NHL with 205 goals for and defensively, the Coyotes were 24th in the NHL giving up 249 goals.

The Coyotes` powerplay was 28th in the NHL last season, clicking at 14.5 percent and they were 28th in killing penalties (76.8 percent).

Outlook for 2009-10

I foresee a fifth place finish in the highly competitive Pacific Division and I think they will finish 14th in the Western Conference.

The only that may save the Coyotes from a last place finished in the Conference, is their skilled young forwards but there is so much uncertainty surrounding the franchise at this time.

How will the young players be able to avoid the distraction of the off-ice activities?  There is currently uncertainty, with regards to the Coyotes` coaching staff. Who will the head coach of the franchise be this season?

At this point there are so many questions and no answers, the Coyotes` are a dead team walking, entering the 2009-10 season. Until they are answered, how can anyone focus on the ice, with so much happening off of it.

On Sept 12th, I will be reviewing Pittsburgh Penguins as I continue to preview each of the 30 NHL clubs. Look for my four-part article on how I would improve the NHL and my other previously published articles on bleacherreport.com.

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