With hockey season approaching, it is time to look at our division rivals! We need to know what we are up against, so I will be examining their off-season moves. Lets begin with our neighbors to the east, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Although the Coyotes lost several players during free agency, they were able to add some new talent, as well as re-sign some of their most valuable players.
-Ilya Bryzgalov: A big story this off-season, Bryzgalov wanted to be payed top 5 NHL salaries, and the Coyotes said no. I personally think it was a smart move on their part, considering the sketchy post-season appearances the past two years. Bryzgalov signed with the Flyers, leaving the Coyotes without a starting goaltender.
-Ed Jovanovski: “Jovo Cop” went back down to the Florida Panthers, who grabbed every free agent they could get their hands on. Jovanovski was a key part of the Coyotes defense, and also a fan favorite. Very reliable on the penalty kill, it will be tough to replace him.
-Scottie Upshall: Florida again took another player, signing Upshall. A tough, gritty forward who can shutdown the offensive rush.
-Vernon Fiddler: Fiddler went off to our division rival Dallas Stars where he signed a big paycheck. A solid center who is great in the faceoff while adding tons of helpers to top goal scorers.
-Keith Yandle: Yandle signed a five year contract extension. With the loss of Jovanovski, he will be the Coyotes #1 defenseman.
-Mike Smith: The Coyotes temporary solution to losing Ilya Bryzgalov. He will be a solid replacement, but not forever. He has the talent and with a defense oriented system he can really prosper.
-Raffi Torres: A gritty winger that will agitate the living crap out of a teams offense. A great replacement for Upshall, Torres is the guy you hate, unless he is on your team.
-Radim Vrbata: Vrbata was a hot player on the market, considering his clutch goals and his non stop hustle. He is a solid secondary goal scorer who wanted to stay with in the desert.
- Lauri Korpikoski: The Coyotes were able to re-sign Korpikoski. He is a young forward that is proving himself to be a great hockey player.
Despite losing some of their top players, the Coyotes were able to re-sign some great players and keep their roster in tact. They have a good offense that can put pucks away. Their defense is shaky, but with the system Dave Tippett uses, they are able to shutdown their zone. The Coyotes goaltending is their weak point. Smith is a good goalie, but not a #1 contender. I assume we will see multiple goalies in net for the Coyotes this season.
Follow us on Twitter: @DucksDailyBlog