The Phoenix Coyotes came up just short in their bid to reach the NHL playoffs for a third-straight year in 2012-13, finishing 10th in the Western Conference with 51 points in the lockout-shortened 48-game season. The Coyotes finally found a new owner in the offseason that will keep the team in Glendale and establish a level of stability, and that along with a couple of notable offseason additions has helped make this team a much better team and a legitimate contender to get back to the postseason in 2013-14.
2013 Stanley Cup Odds: + 4,500
Notable Change #1: New Ownership Establishes Level Of Stability
Phoenix has spent the last few seasons under ownership of the NHL, and while that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing there was always questions about when the team will be moved and where it would go. The Coyotes finally found new ownership when the IceArizona group came in to end the four-year run and purchase the team, and that will provide a level of stability that will benefit the team. The players no longer have to worry about any ownership issues or the constant threat of being moved either via trade or as a team to a new city. That should help the team’s veterans feel more comfortable and remove a distraction for some of its young stars.
Notable Change #2: Ribeiro Brought In To Center The Top Line
One of the biggest issues for the Coyotes was the lack of a No. 1 center that could consistently produce points both on the powerplay and at even-strength. The addition of veteran center Mike Ribeiro will fill that void, as he is a talented playmaking center that has the ability to anchor the top line both at even strength and on the powerplay. Ribeiro’s presence instantly makes the top line better not just for the production he brings on his own, but for the way he will help his new linemates produce with a good chance that he will get some time with young winger Mikkel Boedker in order to maximize his scoring potential on the top line.
Notable Change #3: Forward Depth Gets A Much Needed Spark
Phoenix held on to Kyle Chipchura and Rob Klinkhammer for the leadership and versatility they bring to the team, but they also added a couple of key sparks to their forward depth with the additions of Brandon Yip and Tim Kennedy. Both are solid young players that bring a little bit of everything and can also provide some secondary scoring playing anywhere from the second line to the fourth, and that will tremendously benefit a Coyotes’ team that was lacking two-way depth players when it missed the playoffs last season. Phoenix already has a strong defense core and a quality goaltender in Mike Smith, so the addition of some scoring up front will be key.
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