The Coyotes have put up their official roster for opening night on their website. It's a very interesting roster that includes both first round picks from the 2008 draft...for now.
As hockey fans know, a player like Mikkel Boedker can play up to 10 games in the NHL and still be sent back to juniors for that season. Viktor Tikhonov, who has been receiving high praise from Coach Wayne Gretzky, made the team. Rookie Kevin Porter is on the team as well as Kyle Turris, who was pretty much a lock since the end of last year.
Right off the bat, the Coyotes have four rookies in the forward lines. Now throw in young players like Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Enver Lisin, Dan Carcillo, and Daniel Winnik and you have nine out of the 14 forwards on the roster 23 years old or younger.
The average age of the 14 forwards is about 24. Talk about a youth movement. Ranger fans think they have a young team; they should look at the Phoenix Coyotes.
On defense, the team is going with six defensemen who are the six most people expected. Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Kurt Sauer, Zbynek Michalek, David Hale, and Keith Yandle are the starting six for the Coyotes' blue line.
Of course, the pairings are still unknown, but there really aren't any surprises on the part of these selections. The Coyotes have a few young defensemen like Jonas Ahnelov and Chris Summers, but both need more playing time in the AHL and in the NCAA, respectively.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be starting his first full season as a full-time starter with Mikael Tellqvist backing him up. However, that could soon change depending on how the goaltending battle down in the minors plays out between Al Montoya, Josh Tordjman, and Joel Gistedt.
Tellqvist is a great team guy and a very good backup, but he will have to watch his back with those three young goalies fighting for playing time.
Among Coyotes fans, Wayne Gretzky is known for shaking up the lines. It should come as no surprise, then, that he has already shuffled the lines after the last preseason game, but I disagree with what he has done.
Since about the third preseason game for the Coyotes, the lines have been like this:
Reinprecht, Porter, Lisin, Fedoruk, McGrattan
This mostly concerns the top two lines. Since draft day fans have been drooling over that first line posted above, and during the preseason it was really starting to come together. The second line was also developing some nice chemistry.
Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker already developed chemistry from prospect and rookie camps during the summer. Adding in Dan Carcillo, who will be looked to for more offense, makes for a young but interesting line.
Gretzky has now moved to this:
It is unknown which one of these will be the No. 1 line, but the real problem is that the Coyotes have lacked a legitimate top line since Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, and Mike Gartner were the top three.
Why would you break up Doan, Jokinen, and Mueller who have really made some chemistry during the preseason and who have developed into a potentially dangerous offensive line?
The young guys like Turris and Boedker weren't put on the top line so they wouldn't have to go up against the really big bodies in the Pacific division and Western Conference.
Put the old lines back together and see what happens. They have been working pretty well to this point, so there is no reason to disband them and start all over.
However, I will give these lines a shot. It may not be much of one, but they have a chance to work.