2014-15 NHL Pacific Division preview: Arizona Coyotes have a popgun offense, a stout defense and a resourceful coach.
2013-14 RECORD: 37-30-15, 89 points (fourth in Pacific, missed playoffs)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.56 goals-for per game (20th); 2.73 goals-against per game (18th); 19.9 power play pct. (4th); 79.0 penalty kill pct. (26th); shootout record: 6-7 (16th)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Lauri Korpikosko — Martin Hanzal — Shane Doan
Martin Erat — Antoine Vermette — Mikkel Boedker
Kyle Chipchura — Sam Gagner — David Moss
Brandon McMillan — Joe Vitale — B.J. Crombeen
PLAYER TO WATCH: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Sam Gagner remains the biggest X-factor on the team because of his breakout potential, but Ekman-Larsson is a graceful, gifted defenseman whose fame has been muffled by being stuck in Phoenix. Strikingly similar to Swedish defensive legend Nicklas Lidstrom (I’m aware of the bold comparison), the 23-year old Ekman-Larsson has provided stability to the Coyotes blue line since his arrival in 2010-2011. Standing at 6-foot-2 and a deft passer, he pairs with another of the NHL’s most underrated players in Keith Yandle to form a duo that ranks among the best in the league.
PREDICTION: 85 points (fifth in Pacific)