Their win percentage is better than that of the defending Stanley Cup Champions, yet everyone – fans and media alike – have already written them off. This is because the Phoenix Coyotes are approximately one year into a full-blown rebuilding plan and their team consists of Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski and a whole bunch of kids.
But given the way the ‘Yotes have played since the acquisition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and how those wet-behind-the-ears kids have performed, perhaps they should be taken a little more seriously.
For the last several years, keeper-league owners have shifted their philosophy towards treating Phoenix players like the plague. And why not? The last time the team had a player reach the 70-point mark it was the 2000-01 season when Jeremy Roenick led the squad with 76. Since then, only once has a player tallied more than 63 and that was when Shane Doan had 68 a few years back.
Much like a lab rat is trained to push a certain button to score a wafer, poolies have been trained to ignore Phoenix players when they appear next on their draft list. It’s hard to undo that.
This will be yet another campaign in which not one Phoenix player will reach the 70-point mark, which makes it six seasons in a row. Mark my words though – it will be the last.
The team has finally put a solid GM in office with a true, full-out rebuilding plan – not one of those ‘half-assed’ ones that you’ve seen in the past. Don Maloney is continuing what Mike Barnett finally started prior to his being fired. The philosophy is simple: Doan stays and the kids play.
The centerpiece of the team – Kyle Turris – has yet to join them, but likely will next season or at the very latest in two years. Another U.S. college stalwart, Blake Wheeler, will join him. The two of them will be the finishing pieces to a puzzle that already includes Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal.
In Mueller, Turris and Hanzal, the ‘Yotes will boast the three centers with the best combination of size, skill and youth this side of Pittsburgh. Turris projects to be a Steve Yzerman-type capable of posting 100-point seasons. Mueller still looks