The Coyotes have shipped off almost all of their high-priced talent in a plan that’s aimed at making them a real contender in about three years when they’re able to get into a new up and coming Glendale arena. The Coyotes have gone from older, high-priced talent to younger, cheaper, and a more enthusiastic team then we saw last year. There will be tons of young youth and with the veterans in Teppo Nummineen to help the defense and the playoff performer in Claude Lemieux to help the offense, this looks to be a fun-filled, high-energy team.
With the all-stars in Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick gone, the Coyotes look to place the scoring weight on Shane Doan along with getting help from the new additions Sergei Berezin and Daymond Langkow. Looking at things from an offensive standpoint, we will be hard pressed to score goals this year, as the system Bob Francis will be implementing will be a defense first.
The defense will be young and with the newly appointed captain Teppo Numminen being the most important part of the Coyotes defense this year, they will look to him to teach the up and coming core of the Coyotes defense in Ossi Vannannen and Paul Mara. They will also look to Todd Simpson for his leadership on the blue line this year. But the most important part of the team will be Sean Burke in goal. After putting up career numbers in 2000, the Coyotes will look to him to provide leadership and to keep the defense one of the tops in the league. The Coyotes also have a dependable backup in Robert Esche who led team USA in the World Championships this past summer and who also attended the team USA Olympic camp in Denver, Colorado.
The Coyotes have cut down their roster to 30 by assigning Ramzi Abid, Dan Focht, Jason Jaspers, Branko Radivojevic, and Kirill Safronov to the Springfield Falcons, the Coyotes’ top minor league team in the AHL. The Coyotes also released Joel Bouchard who was on a Pro Try-Out Agreement. This leaves the Coyotes Roster at 30 with three goalies, nine defensemen, and 18 forwards. The Coyotes have one cut left in getting the roster down to 24, the NHL maximum limit.
The Coyotes have also announced the signing of a three-year deal with Martin Podelsak. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Coyotes drafted the 18-year-old in the 2nd round (45th overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. The 6′ 6″, 210-pound center split last season between two Western Hockey League teams, Tri-City and Lethbridge. In 60 games combined with the two clubs, he compiled 21-19-40 and 59 PIM in his first season of North American hockey. In the Coyotes’ press release, Mike Barnett said, “Martin has had a strong training camp. The coaching staff has been very pleased with his development and consider him to be an important part of the Coyotes’ future. At a very young age, Martin brings a bold attitude to the ice that is infectious. His approach to the game is exactly what we are looking for from all of our young prospects.”