NHL team-by-team previews: Arizona Coyotes

NHL team-by-team previews: Arizona Coyotes
July 30, 2014, 4:00 pm
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(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. This week, we take a look at the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.

Today: ARIZONA COYOTES

2013-14 record: 37-30-15, 89 points

Where they finished: 4th in the Pacific; 9th in the West; 18th in the NHL

Coach: Dave Tippett (6th season)

Key additions: C Sam Gagner, RW B.J. Crombeen, C Joe Vitale, G Devan Dubnyk

Key subtractions: C Mike Ribeiro, RW Radim Vrbata, LW Paul Bissonnette, C Jeff Halpern,  D Derek Morris, D Paul Bissonnette, G Thomas Greiss

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Mikkel Boedker – Martin Hanzal – Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski – Sam Gagner – Martin Erat/Max Domi

Rob Klinkhammer – Antoine Vermette – Brandon McMillan

Kyle Chipchura – Joe Vitale – B.J. Crombeen

Extras: Max Domi, Lucas Lessio

Defense

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle – Connor Murphy

David Schlemko – Brandon Gormley

Extra:  Michael Stone

Goaltenders

Mike Smith – Devan Dubnyk

Our take:  If not for a seven-game losing streak in the final two weeks of last season the Coyotes would have scratched their way into the playoffs. Instead, they were kept out of the post-season for a second straight season, two points behind the eighth-place Dallas Stars.

Arizona (nee Phoenix) finished tied for 19th in the NHL in goals scored last season and 19th in goals-against. During the NHL draft the club decided to buy out the final three years of Mike Ribeiro’s contract, clearing the way for them to trade for second-line center Sam Gagner, who went from Edmonton to Tampa for Teddy Purcell, then shipped to Arizona for a sixth-round pick and B.J. Crombeen.

Regardless of how it happened, replacing Ribeiro with Gagner strengthens the Coyotes down the middle, where they will also try to make room for promising forward Max Domi, who had 93 points in 61 games for Dale Hunter’s London Knights last season. Love the thought of Hunter coaching Tie Domi’s son.

They Coyotes also solidified their goaltending by replacing free agent Thomas Greiss with Devan Dubnyk, a 6-foot-6, 210-pounder who can learn a lot from veteran Mike Smith.

The Coyotes remain thin on the blue line, where Oliver Ekman-Larson and Keith Yandle could use some help, especially with the departure of Derek Morris.

Offseason Grade:  C

Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15?  Not quite.

[RELATED: Vrana, Vanecek, Bowey headed to WJC camp]