COACH Dave Tippett (3rd season)
LAST SEASON 43-26-13 (6th in West); lost in first round to Red Wings
KEY ADDITIONS C Daymond Langkow, G Mike Smith, LW Raffi Torres
KEY LOSSES G Ilya Bryzgalov, D Ed Jovanovski, RW Lee Stempniak
THE TURNOVER RATE is high in Phoenix where, not coincidentally, the payroll remains low. General manager Don Maloney was being fiscally responsible when he dealt elite goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, an unrestricted free agent, to the Flyers in June. Maloney invested instead in All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle, whose 59 points last season ranked third among NHL blueliners. "He has that imagination and creativity that you can't teach," Maloney says. "He can create something out of nothing. That's the strength of his game."
For the cash-strapped Coyotes, the price for re-signing Yandle, 25, was steep (five years, $26.5 million), but it was cheaper than the nine-year $51 million contract Bryzgalov signed with Philly. Maloney likes Yandle's upside. "[Two years ago] he [wanted] to create a Rembrandt every time he touched the puck," Maloney says. "But a lot of times the simple play is the best play. That's where I see maturity."
But Yandle's presence alone won't be enough to get Phoenix back to the playoffs this season. New goalie Mike Smith is a journeymen, and the Coyotes need much more than that.
COACH Glen Gulutzan (1st season)