When the Coyotes gather for 2007 training camp, there’s definitely going to be a different feel to it. With a new regime in place, led by general manager Don Maloney, Phoenix looks to a rebirth of sorts to get the organization moving in the right direction.
Last year’s roster has been trimmed. There will be a couple new faces in camp and a couple missing. In all, Maloney has already committed to making the team younger, which bodes well for a couple of prospects looking for full-time action.
Building the team from the back end out, the Coyotes currently don’t have a prospect in the running for the netminder position. David LeNeveu, no longer a prospect per HF criteria, is still in the mix, but he’s going to face stiff competition from David Aebischer, Alex Auld and last season’s incumbent netminder, Mikael Tellqvist. Josh Tordjman will be at camp, but expect him to take over or split the starting role in San Antonio.
The Coyotes continue to have the most depth on defense. Matt Jones should be entering this camp with the expectations of earning a starting job. Behind Jones are Keith Yandle and Logan Stephenson. While either one could see some time in Phoenix, it’s more important for them at this point in their careers to be playing every night and developing in San Antonio.
Up front, expect Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal to compete for starting jobs out of the gate. These two former first rounders have the most potential and skill to make the jump this year. Between the two, Mueller has the inside edge heading into camp. But don’t be quick to count Hanzal out because he may just be as equally capable of starting the season with the Yotes.
On the Russian front, Alexei Kaigorodov is staying home, but Enver Lisin has pledged to return to Phoenix this summer. Lisin has given his commitment to the organization and will do what it takes to improve and develop in preparation for an NHL career.
Maloney had a knack for handling European prospects with the Rangers and it may prove to be a welcome benefit in the desert as well. Early signs are that we’re going to see a whole new Lisin with the same blazing speed and heart-stopping moves.
Rounding out the forward position, Bill Thomas and Daniel Carcillo will return and look to etch their names as starters for the Coyotes this season. Thomas played very well in his mid-season call-up and should be able to recapture his spot moving forward. Carcillo made his way over in a trade with Pittsburgh last season. He’s a good bet for role on an energy line if the Yotes so choose to roll with one this season.
Phoenix signs prospects
Team CEO and governor Jeff Shumway got the ball rolling early this off-season as he started to rebuild the hockey operations staff after letting Michael Barnett and his top staff go just three days into the summer.
The team named Maloney as its new GM, but he didn’t make his first operational move until after the draft. Leaving Columbus, the Coyotes parted ways with scouts Gus Badali, Charlie Henry, Blair Reid, Willy Lindstrom and Evzen Slansky.
From there, Maloney named former CHL president Brad Treliving as his Assistant General Manager.
With Treliving in the mix, the Coyotes moved to solidify their development system. In doing so, they signed a multi-year deal with the Rampage to extend their affiliate agreement with the AHL team. Then, they hired Greg Ireland as their new head coach. Ireland comes to the Rampage from the Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings organization where he has had success developing prospects before catching on in ‘Hockeytown.’ In addition, they also signed on Ray Edwards to assist Ireland in San Antonio. Edwards has years of experience and success coaching in the minor leagues.
Most recently, the Coyotes signed an additional affiliation agreement with the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL. Heading into their second season in the CHL, the Sundogs will replace the Phoenix Roadrunners of the ECHL as the Coyotes ‘AA’ development affiliate.
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