Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's Next 2011: Phoenix Coyotes

Didn't know it would be this early, but this is the series in the playoffs were I'll take a look at what possibly could be next for the teams that were just eliminated and what they can do in the off-season and all of that.

The Phoenix Coyotes have a lot of questions off the ice, but that's been very well documented and done to death. They have some issues on ice, as well-- as we've seen after being swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

The first thing is going to be what's going to happen with Ilya Bryzgalov. While he did have a stellar regular season, he didn't seem like he could handle the post-season this year very well and will definitely make some teams thing-- the Coyotes included. That said, the main thing is getting Bryz re-signed because he has given the Coyotes great life and the ability to get into the playoffs. One of the questions though is whether or not Bryzgalov would want to re-sign if there's uncertainty about the future of the team in the current locale. He may or may not be willing to move with the team, which could be a stumbling block-- but if they want him bad enough; the team could find a way to sway him.

Another cause of concern could be the offensive output for the team. While they passed around some of the goal-scoring, the fact is they only had one 20-goal scorer and one guy over 60 points. Shane Doan can only do so much and they do have a lot of better guys on the roster to pot some goals, but doesn't seem to happen. If they were able to get Lee Stempniak going again-- they should be able to have a solid secondary scoring besides Doan. Stempniak had 19 goals in 82 games this year with the Coyotes, while he had 14 in 18 games last year; which may be a concern for him and the team. The concern is definitely there for them when it comes to the long-run in terms of points on the board.

Defensively, the Coyotes are solid. Keith Yandle has come out as a solid defenseman and part of the new-breed of offensive defenseman that are in the league right now and will be a great asset to the team moving forward, which should yield a big raise for the RFA this year. While Ed Jovanovski will may not be back unless it's at a discount, he has molded the defensemen into a solid corp and Adrian Aucoin could pick up the role for next season if JovoCop doesn't come back. Though Rostislav Klesla could be an interesting case, going from a plus player in Columbus to a minus in Phoenix-- which may be detrimental to that side of things for the next three years.

However, the biggest question mark is the team's future in their current locale. With all the news and buzz around one way or another-- it's all going to come to a head, probably sooner rather than later. If the NHL draws this out for another couple of months-- it's a shot in the nads to the fans of the Coyotes and fans in Winnipeg for stringing them out for longer than they should have if they know what's going to happen next. It's a delicate process, but it's one that needs to be toppled as soon as possible.

It was another solid year for the Coyotes with another less than desired first-round exit, but in a swifter fashion than last year, but to the same team. They have a lot of promise and with Dave Tippett behind the bench, they'll do great things-- whether it's Arizona or Manitoba.

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