Phoenix Coyotes 2011-12 Predictions and Team Outlook

Doc Moseman@DocsSportsCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Head coach Dave Tippett of the Phoenix Coyotes watches from the bench during the preseason NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Arena on October 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Coyotes are the team that no one wants to own. They declared bankruptcy more than two years ago, and the NHL, which has owned the team since the financial mess erupted, can’t seem to find a deal that works out for new ownership. They play in a nice enough building, and the product on the ice has been solid, but they haven’t captured the imagination of the market.

It’s all a bit of a farce, and the end result is more than likely the team playing in another market sooner or later. In the meantime, though, the Coyotes will just keep doing what they have been doing. From 2002 to 2009 they didn’t make the playoffs, but they have been to the postseason the last two years. They have run into the Red Wings both times, and it hasn’t ended well, but it hasn’t been a fluke that they have made the playoffs either time.


Phoenix Coyotes Offseason Moves

The big story here is the downgrade they were forced to make in net. They were unable to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, so they traded his negotiating rights to the Flyers. To fill the gap they have brought in Mike Smith from Tampa Bay. Smith is nowhere close to as good, so there is going to be added pressure on the defense this year. Bryzgalov stole games last year that Smith probably isn’t capable of stealing.

There were other changes made by the team as well. Gone is veteran defenseman Ed Jovanovski, forward Eric Belanger and a few other role players. To fill the holes they have added several risky players who could pay high rewards if they can recapture past form.

Daymond Langkow was acquired from Calgary. He’s a talented forward, but he struggled with injuries last year. Raffi Torres is very talented, but he is on his fourth team in four years and has never really found a good fit. Kyle Chipchura had a decent scoring touch while in junior and was a first-round pick in 2004, but he has just 17 NHL points in the last three seasons. Patrick O’Sullivan was an OHL and AHL star who was very good in his second season with the Kings, but the three years since have been progressively less impressive for the 26-year-old.

Any of those players could turn into very valuable commodities, but it is certain that not all of them will, and possible that none will. From the outside it seems like they have gambled too much given the core they had to build on.


2011-12 Phoenix Coyotes NHL Outlook

Defenseman Keith Yandle is a great story. Despite being just a fourth-round pick in 2005, he has quietly emerged as one of the better two-way defensemen in the league. Shane Doan is the biggest name on this team, but it’s an easy argument to say that Yandle is the best player. He’s only 25 and he has the security of a fat new long-term deal, so there is a very good chance that he’ll be even better this year. He’ll have to be if the team wants to thrive without Bryzgalov.

While the team was able to sign Yandle, they remain far away from a deal with restricted free agent Kyle Turris. The third overall pick in 2007, has shown real potential in two NHL seasons sandwiched around a very strong year in the AHL. The problem is not a new one though—he wants to be paid on potential, while the team wants to pay based on what he has done. Turris could be a real breakout player this year, but they really need to either sign him or deal him so he isn’t a distraction.

The team has a couple of very promising young players on the scene this year. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a 20-year-old Swedish defenseman who looked solid in almost 50 games with the team last year before ending the season in the AHL. That experience coupled with added maturity and physical growth could see him be a nice part of the defensive rotation this year.

American college hockey fans should be even more excited about Andy Miele. Last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner at Miami of Ohio has had a very strong camp, and the free agent could be a very nice addition to this squad.


2011-12 Phoenix Coyotes Schedule

On October 15 Winnipeg will play Winnipeg. The Coyotes were the Jets, and now the Thrashers are the Jets. Old and new play in Phoenix in a game that will be bittersweet for Winnipeg fans.


Phoenix Coyotes NHL Futures Odds (from Bodog)

The Coyotes are 40/1 according to Stanley Cup odds — deemed more likely to win than just 10 teams according to odds makers. They are 18/1 to win the Western Conference, according to NHL odds.


2011-12 Phoenix Coyotes Predictions

The purpose of the offseason is supposed to be to get better. On that front the Coyotes didn’t have much of an offseason. They could be good, but with a huge question in the nets and some very risky new players their continued success is far from assured.

I really like the addition of Miele, but that’s about it. They are still in the mix to be a playoff team, but their chances are worse than they were the last two years, and I am not generally optimistic. This team needs to find an owner that can help get the organization on the right track. My Stanley Cup predictions stay far away from the Coyotes for any futures wagers.

Doc’s Sports is very excited for this upcoming NHL season. Visit our home page to access all team previews, as well as more sports articles, betting odds and full coverage on the 2011-12 NHL season.