Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Coyotes Release Opening Night Roster and Shuffle Lines

The Coyotes have put up their official roster for opening night on their website here. A very interesting roster that includes both first round picks from the 2008 draft...for now. As hockey fans know, a player like Mikkel Boedker can play up to 10 games in the NHL and still be sent back to juniors for that season. Viktor Tikhonov, who has been receiving high praise from Coach Wayne Gretzky, made the team. Rookie Kevin Porter is on the team as well as Kyle Turris who was pretty much a lock since the end of last year. 
Right off the bat, the Coyotes have 4 rookies in the forward lines. Now throw in young players like Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Enver Lisin, Dan Carcillo, and Daniel Winnik and you have 9 out of the 14 forwards on the roster 23 years old or younger. The average age of the 14 forwards is about 24 years old. Talk about a youth movement. Ranger fans think they have a young team, they should look at the Phoenix Coyotes. 
On defense, the team is going with 6 defensemen which are the six most people expected. Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, Kurt Sauer, Zbynek Michalek, David Hale, and Keith Yandle are the starting 6 for the Coyotes blue line. Of course the pairings are still unknown but really no surprises on the part of these selections. The Coyotes have a few young defensemen like Jonas Ahnelov and Chris Summers but both need more playing time in the AHL and in the NCAA respectively.
Ilya Bryzgalov will be starting his first full season as a full time starter with Mikael Tellqvist backing him up. Although that could soon change depending on how the goaltending battle down in the minors plays out between Al Montoya, Josh Tordjman, and Joel Gistedt. Tellqvist is a great team guy and a very good backup but he will have to watch his back with those three young goalies fighting for playing time. 
For any Coyotes fan, Wayne Gretzky is known for shaking up the lines. So it should come as no surprise that he has already shuffled the lines after the last preseason game but I disagree with what he has done.
Since about the third preseason game for the Coyotes, the lines have been like these:

Doan-Jokinen-Mueller
Carcillo-Turris-Boedker
Winnik-Hanzal-Tikhonov
Reinprecht, Porter, Lisin, Fedoruk, McGrattan

This mostly concerns the top 2 lines. Since draft day fans have been drooling over that first line that I have posted above and during the preseason it was really starting to come together. The 2nd line was also developing some nice chemistry. Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker already had developed chemistry from prospect and rookie camps during the summer. Adding in Dan Carcillo who will be looked to for more offense makes for a young but interesting line. 
Gretzky has now moved to this:

Doan-Turris-Carcillo
Boedker-Jokinen-Mueller

It is unknown which one of these will be the #1 line but here is the problem. The Coyotes have lacked a legitimate top line since Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk and Mike Gartner were the top 3. Why would you break up Doan, Jokinen, and Mueller who have really made some chemistry during the preseason and have developed into a potentially dangerous offensive line? The young guys like Turris and Boedker weren't put on the top line so they wouldn't have to go up against the really big bodies in the Pacific division and Western Conference. Put the old lines back together and see what happens. They have been working pretty well to this point so there is no reason to disband them and start all over. 
However, I will give these lines a shot. It may not be much of one but they have a chance to work. 

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