Tag: Dave Tippett

Radim Vrbata

One thing the Coyotes could use? Goals


We talked earlier today about how defense is a strength of the Phoenix Coyotes. One thing that sticks out as a sore point for the team, however, is offense.

Take a look at their goals per-game averages have looked each of the last five seasons (NHL rank in parenthesis):

2012-2013:  2.52 (21)
2011-2012:  2.56 (18)
2010-2011:  2.76 (14)
2009-2010:  2.57 (24)
2008-2009:  2.50 (26)

That kind of offensive output isn’t very good. It also shows the bell curve of how things have gone recently.

In speaking with Coyotes GM Don Maloney, he recognized the lack of offense as an issue he’d like to still address. Adding Mike Ribeiro as a free agent this summer will help. His past with coach Dave Tippett saw him produce his best offensive seasons in Dallas. That history appealed to both player and GM alike.

Will it be enough to add more goals? That’s debatable.

Maloney has said there’ll be competition for as many as three forward spots in training camp. Youngsters like Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson will get a shot at making the team along with players from their AHL team in Portland (Chris Brown and Lucas Lessio to name two).

The Coyotes have done well enough in the past to fill needs from within, but if that’s what they have to do this season you can almost expect more of the same from last year. That puts pressure on Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata, and Antoine Vermette to step up their games.

If that’s what it boils down to, goalie Mike Smith has to have a strong bounce-back season for the Coyotes to make a run at the postseason.

Coyotes defensive surplus may be a blessing

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

One big reason for that is the play of the Coyotes defense and they’re not lacking in quality along the blue line throughout the organization.

Taking a look at their top performers last year, the two who stand out most are 26-year-old Keith Yandle and 21-year-old phenom Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Yandle led the team in points with 30 while Larsson played the most minutes and still finished just six points back of Yandle.

It’s not just the offensive ability of their top defensemen that get it done, however. Larsson’s minutes played show he was more than that, but guys like Rostislav Klesla and Zbynek Michalek helped pick up the defensive side of things while Derek Morris, David Schlemko, and Michael Stone rounded things out.

Those guys were good for steady play, but there’s help waiting in the wings for a shot to prove themselves.

David Rundblad (he of the new two-year deal and 2009 first-round pick of the Blues ) and 2010 first-round pick Brandon Gormley had big seasons in AHL Portland last season. Rundblad was the top defensive point man with 39 while Gormley put up 29 of his own in his first professional season.

When you throw 2011 first-round pick Connor Murphy into the mix (he’ll make his pro debut this season), you’ve got a lot of potential and guys itching to make the NHL right away. It’s a good problem for coach Dave Tippett and GM Don Maloney to have.

When you consider the Coyotes needs up front for scoring forwards, you can’t help but think there’s a trade to be made here some day. For now, they’ll be eager to see what the competition for starting spots turns out to be when camp opens in September.

Don Maloney happy to lead Coyotes into the future

Don Maloney, Dave Tippett
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LAKE PLACID — One constant through the Phoenix Coyotes troubled times of late has been GM Don Maloney.

His abilities to get the most out of a team shackled by the financial strain of not having an owner have been well noted in the past. Now that that’s all in the rear-view mirror, he’s ready to move the franchise forward.

When it comes to finally not having the NHL as his boss, he’s happy to have some worries put to rest.

“I don’t want to say the job’s easier, but a lot of uncertainties have been limited,” Maloney said while taking in the World Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY.

“We feel as much relief as anything else in the sense that we’ve just eliminated those questions. When you feel like you’re a ward of the state, which basically we were, it’s nice to know people don’t have to talk about this anymore and we can just talk about the job we do on the ice.”

source: Getty ImagesForward competition in training camp could be open to seeing a youthful takeover, but Maloney is hoping to add another big offensive weapon to coach Dave Tippett’s arsenal.

“I think if we find one more offensive player, scorer it would certainly help. I like our defense, I like our goaltending depth. Even our organization, I just think up front we need more skill,” he said.

“We still have three forward positions available for either finding someone in a trade, signing a free agent, or somebody like a Max Domi or a Henrik Samuelsson comes to camp and wins a job. We have very good flexibility right now, but If we can find another bonafide top two NHL player that’d be our preference.”

One way to do that could be to move a defenseman.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson isn’t going anywhere as he’s their young superstar-in-wait, but the blue line depth the team has is impressive. Youngsters like David Rundblad, Brandon Gormley, and Connor Murphy are waiting for their shot to crack the NHL full-time which means guys like Keith Yandle and Derek Morris will pop up in trade rumors, Yandle especially.

It’s a situation that bears watching especially if Phoenix struggles offensively, but don’t expect the Coyotes to just add payroll if it comes right down to it.

“We’re still going to work within a budget that will keep us within a realistic bottom-third of the league [in payroll] and that’s fine,” Maloney says. “I think money gives you a little more flexibility so that you can get away with more mistakes, quite frankly.”

Thankfully for Maloney and the fans in Arizona, mistakes have been minimal