Cat’s Question of the Week: Is the Team Season Opener-Ready?

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Forward Thinking: Do We Need More Scoring Power?

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brendan Perlini puts on a team cap after being selected as the number twelve overall pick to the Arizona Coyotes in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes are in a tough position. Over the past few years, they’ve had trouble finding their stride offensively; Five For Howling described this all too well when they compared the team to the “poor kids at Christmas“.

Over the past few seasons, though, the team has found more success in the score-by-committee model. Used by the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins in the East, and the Dallas Stars and L.A. Kings in the West, this utilizes a system of four (or five- cough, Blackhawks) lines that all have unique but effective ways of scoring goals. Using the Bruins as an example, the team had physical first and fourth lines, and fast, nimble second and third lines. Each line had goal scorers, and all four lines got ample playing time.

It seems even more likely that the Coyotes are starting to lean towards this system- they’ve gotten rid of fan-favorite fourth line plug Paul Bissonnette, and added more even-keeled players for the third and fourth lines like Sam Gagner and BJ Crombeen. Based on what the team has added this year, this is what I’d expect the lines to look like:

[table id=3 /]

The team has three noticeable holes in the depth chart this year- Mike Ribeiro, Radim Vrbata, and Paul Bissonnette. While Ribeiro’s hole down the middle has been (arguably) filled with the addition of Sam Gagner and Joe Vitale, the other two- Vrbata and Bissonnette- have abandoned a left wing that was already short on men. The team hasn’t picked up a replacement yet, either, based on the natural positions of the bodies picked up at the trade deadline and during free agency.

I don’t trust our left wing right now, personally. Lauri Korpikoski only put up nine goals last season; while that’s perfectly acceptable for the third or fourth line, it’s not exactly top-six material. I say we pick up one more forward, preferably Kevin Hayes. He may be a right winger, but it’s been shown that players like Doan and Moss can play both sides of the wing. Add another guy to either side of the wing, and things can be shuffled around enough to give the team adequate scoring power.

Moving on.