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Season 5 Preview - Phoenix Coyotes Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

Phoenix has the distinguished privilege of being the only franchise in the CMHL to have never made the post-season. Four years under the rule of GM jwolbach, and every single spring, the Coyotes watched from the sidelines. This spring, after a fourth consecutive early exit, GM jwolbach resigned from the CMHL in what many hope will be a rebirth for the flailing franchise. GM Gerv was quickly hired as the new head honcho, after two very successful seasons at the helm of the Ottawa Senators, in which he upped the ante on their Eastern dominance. But coming into Phoenix was a very different task, one he has thus far handled to great applause.


As most would expect in this situation, no stone was left unturned when Gerv went to work. Only two remnants remain of jwolbach's rule, and one of those is franchise forward Shane Doan. Doan has played his entire career in Phoenix, and has openly expressed that he would like to finish his career here too. For all the hoo-haa made about Doan, its interesting to note that he's only had one season that really distinguishes himself as a premier offensive forward (that being a 99-point Season 2). But what doesn't show up on the score sheet is the thundering hits, superior discipline and defensive acumen that he possesses. These are intangibles that are often forgotten. In one of his more daft moves, Gerv stole a Canuck-for-life out of Vancouver, and brought Dany Heatley to the heat of Phoenix. Heatley never quite hit his stride in Vancouver, and Gerv is banking on a big season from the Heater this year. Centering these two wingers, is last year's Calder Trophy nominee Paul Stastny. Paul put up stellar numbers for a first year pro and will be looking to move up into the upper echelon of forwards this year.

Should he fail, Antoine Vermette is waiting in the wings. Vermette fell a goal shy of the 40-goal mark last season, and is one of the more underrated players in the CMHL. He's lightning fast, and a real threat in all situations that shouldn't be taken lightly. The one-two punch he forms with Stastny gives Phoenix one of the best centre combos in the league. Justin Williams and new acquisition Jason Pominville round out the top 6 forwards. Pominville was recently acquired from Anaheim in a deal that GM Gerv felt he needed to do because he was lacking that last piece on offense. This author couldn't agree more! The bottom six doesn't exactly reke of household names, but they are very defensively aware, and they get the job done. Watch out for Alex Ponikarovsky - if someone in the top 6 goes down to injury, he could step in and really produce, after showing flashes of brilliance last year on his way to a Stanley Cup with the Isles.


The Coyotes had 7 CMHL-caliber defencemen, and as a result, felt that Brent Burns was expendable enough to trade him for Jason Pominville. They weren't hurt at all though, as the remaining six are very much up to the task. Veteran Adam Foote leads the squad with grit and experience, not to mention door-slamming defence. He'll even chip in 30-40 points to boot. What more can you ask for? He really is the wise sage here as the other 5 guys fall into the 21-25 years old bracket. But ohhh the potential...Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook have already established themselves as premier rearguards and are only going to get better. But Barker needs to be careful. He only played 48 games last year, and it seemed like he was getting thrown around a lot. His durability this season will be a major factor for the Yotes. Shane O'Brien played half a season with the Blue Jackets last season and showed his mettle, racking up 147 PIM. He's not a guy you want to mess with. Finally, two rookies are off to big starts in Phoenix, and both could be in the Calder mix at the end of the season if they keep this up - Kris Letang, and Tobias Enstrom.


Remember that other remnant of jwolbach's rule - he's right here in Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was always envisioned as the cornerstone of this franchise, and that has not changed. Through thick and thin, the Coyotes have stuck by him as they watched him develop into a top notch goalie. He's off to a great start in what will be the 5th, and hopefully breakout, year of his career. Backing him up will be Wade Dubiewhatchawhatcha. He won't play a ton, but he'll get the job done.


Phoenix has a deep bed of prospects, with some names that will make an impact in the near future just waiting for their chance. Chief among them is Brandon Dubinsky, who could be a 3rd liner now, but with one more year in the ICHF under his belt, could be a 2nd liner or better next year. Bill Thomas scored 40 points last year for Dallas, but GM Gerv decided he could use a year in the minors - this is the sign of a deep team when a guy like Thomas is not needed on the pro roster. And let's not forget top pick Luke Schenn, who is coming along much quicker than a lot of scouts predicted he would.


The Coyotes have a real fighting chance at the playoffs this season. They are off to a promising start, and if they can keep this up, they can make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: Brent Seabrook - Seabrook has impressed so far with top notch defence and 40+ point seasons. A #1 defenceman in the making.
Most Overpaid: No one - This team is an amazing 13 million under the cap - one of the best financially managed teams in the league!
Breakout Player: Marc-Andre Fleury - Is this his year? I think it is - watch out goalies!
Overrated: No one - Just can't find one! See Most Overpaid.

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