It’s been a while since I have put up a blog post. Mostly because there was not much news on the Coyotes during the playoffs and I wanted to wait until the lease agreement was settled with Glendale. Now that the whole deal is done (for now), here is a little review on the Yotes’ draft and start to free agency!
This is going to be a long blog. Each of these deserves their own blog with more depth (maybe I will if it looks like people want to read more about it?)
Draft Picks: The Yotes picked up some solid players in this draft. Max Domi, Laurent Daphin, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Connor Clifton, Brendan Burke, and Jedd Soleway were the picks (in order) that the staff went with. First thing to notice is that this group consists of 3 centers, 1 defense man, 1 goaltender, and a forward to top it off. Clearly the Yotes wanted to address their lack of offensive production (especially at the center position, which has always been the Yotes’ biggest hole). Here is a brief review of the notable picks that the Yotes made.
Max Domi (12th overall): One of the highest rated offensive guys, excluding the bigger names in the draft. GMDM (General Manager Don Maloney) seems to be pretty high on this guy’s offensive skill set. He has stated that Domi could be used as early as next season if necessary and he earns it. That’s very rare for the Coyotes under GMDM and Coach Tippett. This was a very solid pick at the 12th spot in the draft, in my opinion. He could project out to be the future number one playmaking center for the team. Everyone probably knows about him so I will move on to the other guys.
Laurent Daphin (39th overall): The Yotes traded up to snag Daphin, so they see something they desire in the center. I will admit I am not the best prospect guy ever. Best to look to Huddle, French, and others on the HockeyBuzz site (or around the net) to really get a good opinion. However, I watched some of Daphin’s highlights, and I saw some good parts to his game. He seems to be fluid and crafty with the puck. He has some clutch games and can clearly bring some offensive skills. The biggest knock I have read about the guy is his strength. He is 160 (ish) lbs. That’s pretty light for an NHL center. However, I definitely think that strength is something that can be trained and developed. His offensive talents can’t. Interesting pick by the staff… if it works they will look pretty smart.
Yan-Pavel Laplante (62nd overall): Here is a player who had to deal with a major injury recently. However, he came back and seems to be playing just fine. He is a more physical center who likes to throw his body around and drive the net. He isn’t as offensively talented as the other two picks, but he has that full tilt game. He goes all out, all the time. Once again, I like the pick. He could easily end up being a 3rd line center or maybe even second (depending on the offensive development he has).
Brendan Burke/Connor Clifton (6th/5th round, respectively): Coyotes love to draft the sons of those that have or do work in the organization. If Burke can turn out to be anything like his dad, he will be a great pick at that spot. Clifton is a small defender. 5’11’’ is what I read. However, he loves to hit people and throw his body around. I don’t know very much about these later round picks, so I will leave them at that.
I would like to hear other opinions on the Yotes’ draft this year so let me know what you think!
NOW the free agency period that the Yotes have had….
Mike Ribeiro: I like this signing a lot as well. It is a bit rich for my taste, BUT it is our number one center for the team. Ribeiro is obviously familiar with Tippett from Dallas, and stated that was a big reason he wanted to come to Phoenix. What people forget is that Ribeiro can play some solid defense. Tippett knows what to expect from him, and vice versa. One thing I hope this does is help Vrbata get some more goals (a la Ray “The Wizard” Whitney). We will see if this happens. This is the first free agency in a long time where I can remember the Coyotes signing one of the top rated players. The center group now looks like this… Ribiero/Hanzal/Vermette/Chipchura. This signing slots Hanzal into a better position and Vermette too. So it isn’t just about Ribeiro’s numbers.
Thomas Greiss: Solid again. He will take over the backup role that is vacated by Jason Labarbra and Chad Johnson. He will not be asked to give the Yotes too many games. But I feel he is solid enough to keep down the fort should Smith get injured (which happens more than I would like). With Tippett’s system, I never worry too much about new goalies. What they need to do is make the routine saves and not let soft goals in. If they can do that, they will have some pretty solid numbers by the end of the season. (Never hurts to steal a goal or two away of course… needs to happen a couple times a season).
Mike Smith: This was another move I actually didn’t expect from the Coyotes. I thought for sure he would go the way of Bryzgalov and price himself out of the team’s reach. 6 years at around 5.6 million per season is obviously a bit rich again for me. However, it is on the border between being too much and not quite over it. If he performs like he did in his first season, this contract will look pretty good. However, if injury trouble hit and he regresses in his game, this contract could be just the opposite.
Quick Note: I will miss having Boyd Gordon on this team. He was a champ at the face off dot and blocking shots. There was a shift a while back where he took two BRUTAL slap shots one right after the other during a key game. Much respect to him as a player. I am happy he got his money and hope he continues to play well in Edmonton. Yotes just couldn’t justify 3 million a year for him this time around. Also, farewell to Jason Labarbra…one of those great locker room guys who had the tendency to have feast or famine games. What’s with Edmonton signing players fresh from the Yotes? Haha.
Seeing the magic that GMDM has pulled over the last several owner-less seasons on a shoestring budget, I have learned to trust the signings he makes and give them a fair trial before really putting in the judgment. His success rate versus failure rate is pretty good. This next season should be a really exciting one for the Arizona Coyotes.
Sorry for the epically long blog. I would like to hear any comment/questions/suggestions.
Have a great rest of your weekend everyone!