Jul 21, 2012, 11:05 PM EST
No one will confuse the Phoenix Coyotes with the Gretzky Oilers, but an underrated first line helped them score a decent amount of goals last season. Yet after losing Ray Whitney in free agency and with Shane Doan‘s future in doubt, the Coyotes offense could really lack firepower.
Whitney was the only Coyotes forward who approached a point-per-game, scoring 77 in 82 games last season. The only player among the team’s top three scorers who’s guaranteed to return is Radim Vrbata (Vrbata scored 62 points). Once you go beyond defenseman Keith Yandle‘s 43 points, no other Phoenix player generated more than 37 (which Lauri Korpikoski and Antoine Vermette both managed).
Vermette is currently the team’s highest-paid forward and one of several forwards who needs to embrace a greater role. The Coyotes must hope that Vermette’s strong postseason is a sign of a promising future.
The team’s biggest free agent acquisition is veteran forward Steve Sullivan, a winger who scored 48 points with Pittsburgh and might act as Ray Whitney-lite (health permitting).
Phoenix could gain a significant offensive boost from its much-touted defense, too. If Yandle doesn’t get traded, he should provide points while many believe that Oliver Ekman-Larsson is on the verge of a breakout season.
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 0
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 27
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 49
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 30
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 18
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Four goals: Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 62
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)