2014-2015 Arizona Coyotes Season Preview
It's crazy to think that the Coyotes are 3 seasons removed from a Western Conference final berth, but they are. The Coyotes have achieved a respectable amount of success over the past 5-6 years because they have made the playoffs 3 times in that span, the last couple of years however they have been bubble teams that have missed out on playoff hockey. With a New name, new ownership, and players fit to break out, I think the Coyotes could surpass some teams.
Sam Gagner has played his first 7 years of his career with the Edmonton Oilers, but the team had been figuring out ways to dump one of their young stars for the last couple of years, this summer they did just that, trading Gagner to Tampa Bay who immediately traded him to Arizona. Gagner can be a premiere 2nd line center and I think he will be with the Coyotes. Gagner has put up 40+ points in almost every season of his career and I think that number will go up to 60 with his new supporting cast.
Look for Max Domi to make the opening roster, he will be a rookie so it remains to be seen if he will stick all season. Domi has had a prolific Junior career with the London Knights and will look to continue his successful hockey life. Domi will be a top 6 scorer on the Arizona Coyotes for the next 10-15 years barring any trades. Domi is a small guy, south of 6 feet, but he plays with a passion he probably inherited from his former NHL playing father, Tie Domi. Max also has type 1 diabetes so the fact that he works so hard is even more of a testament to his character, great guy to root for.
Update: Domi has just been returned to Juniors, brutal because this guy has game.
Brandon Gormley was the 13th pick in the 2010 draft, 1 after Cam Fowler, and both were considered to be droppers and steals for their teams. Gormley spent the next 4 years in juniors and the minors while Fowler has become an olympian and rising defensive star in Anaheim, so what happened to Gormley? well the next couple of years following his draft he caught the injury bug and missed significant time. Gormley has however, won a memorial cup, which is the biggest non nation related trophy you can win in junior hockey, he has represented his country in international tournaments and I think will have a successful career, and that Arizona just decided to take their time with him. Brandon is a good puck mover and will be the cornerstone of the defense with world class player, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Connor Murphy is another player who was picked later in the first round, 20th in 2011 who can make an impact on the blue line this season and beyond, Murphy and Gormley join OEL as young studs who stand at 6'2 and taller (Murphy is 6'3) much like Domi, Murphy has good bloodlines, his father Gord was a former player and current assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Murphy has a scoring touch but has also had the injury bug, hopefully these guys' injury days are behind them so they can contribute to success for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes' new ownership decided to rename the team the Arizona Coyotes from the Phoenix Coyotes due to the team no longer being located within Phoenix city limits and to include all hockey fans in the state. Before the city signed a 15 year lease with Renaissance sports and Entertainment in 2013, the team had been bankrupt since 2009. This past year the owner ship had been under fire for going back on a sponsorship deal worth a quarter of a million dollars and were being sued by a public relations firm out of Scottsdale, Arizona for doing so. The NHL owned the Coyotes for the last few years and were going to move the team if they had not been bought by the summer of 2013, this situation with the Coyotes has been a mess for years and hockey fans hope this can be permanently resolved whether it includes a move something else, let's hope they find a permanent solution.
Captain Shane Doan has been part of the organization since its days as the original Winnipeg Jets and there are not many passionate guys that I would love to see win a cup than him, maybe he can move to Anaheim and win it there, which would make me personally happiest. Doan is a '76er so his days are numbered, however since joining the league in 1995 he has been a model of consistency, his numbers only dipping below 50 on a few occasions in the past 20 years. If there are on ice issues in Arizona, it has never been because of Doan, if the team was full of Shanes then they would have won several cups at this point. Not sure what will happen this year but I hope Doaner success at some point because this hard nosed hero deserves it.
Bubble team, I don't think the Coyotes make it this year, they have the Cali teams in front of them and I can't see any of them not making the playoffs because they might be among the top 10 teams in the league. That being said, it's not impossible, Goalie Mike Smith will have to stand on his head and the young defense will need to come together and play like vets, Doan will do anything in his power to make the playoffs, and these boys have a great bench boss in Dave Tippett. In a couple of years this team could be a consistent playoff clincher, watch closely this year, maybe they will surprise a lot of people.