The Arizona Coyotes shipped Martin Hanzal off to Minnesota for a package of top picks, leaving Christian Dvorak as the only skill-focused center on the team.
As much as the Arizona Coyotes could have plotted a bold path and re-signed/not traded pending UFA’s like Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and Michael Stone, they clearly did not by moving each of these players to top playoff contenders.
And while some of these players leave far more gaping holes in the lineup than others, the need for a top center remains.
The Coyotes have yet to have a top franchise center since, well, arguably ever.
Now the Coyotes could, again, be bold and flip the 1st round pick they just landed from Minnesota with some other assets for the Colorado Avalanche’s Matt Duchene, who is a bonafide top-line pivot.
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Or they will chose the more likely route and develop their internal talent.
At the center of this route is the Arizona Coyotes’ lone skill center, Christian Dvorak.
Dvorak, who has caught fire over the last month or so, was a second round draft pick and lit up junior hockey in London before signing and making the Coyotes out of training camp this season.
But now that Hanzal is gone, the Arizona Coyotes have limited centerman options beyond Dvorak in Josh Jooris, Peter Holland, Alex Burmistrov and Jordan Martinook (who’s really a winger). None of them are top-6 skill talent players, and for that reason, none of them should get top line priority over Dvorak.
Dvorak, along with junior/college prospects Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller, are the Coyotes future down the middle and the organization needs allow them to develop uninterrupted, both in the minors and in the NHL.
Christian Dvorak has already made strides as a defensively accountable forward, racking up time on the penalty kill and showing his strong back-checking skills on a nightly basis.
But now Dave Tippett and John Chayka need to put aside their philosophies and think pure player development: Christian Dvorak needs to be on every special teams unit, play every top-line minute and lead the OT 3-on-3 lines.
If the Arizona Coyotes don’t start pushing their prospects into positions they’re meant to be in, then this rebuild the team has been desperately trying to shake for the last half dozen seasons may continue to carry on and the future of the team may begin to dim.