Shane Doan is the Coyotes’ best player at any position, and he’ll be their top right wing once again when the season opens. Exactly who else is on that line is anyone’s guess, as it could be an unproven rookie like 19-year-old Peter Mueller, or it could be a cagey veteran looking for a fresh start like 29-year-old Mike York.
Free agent right wing Radim Vrbata should find himself on the second line, but nothing is written in stone, especially on a team where competition for roster spots figures to be so intense in training camp. Ideally, the Coyotes would love to see their young players win some of their top forward jobs.
Veteran Steven Reinprecht is a 31-year-old who leads by example and should fit somewhere in the top six. It will be interesting to see where rookies like Dan Carcillo, 22, Brett MacLean, 18, Yanick Lehoux, 25, Martin Hanzal, 20, and Mueller fit in here. Maloney is looking for energy guys, which makes forecheckers like Fredrik Sjostrom an even more valuable commodity.
Like many things in Phoenix, the power play will live and die with the play of captain Shane Doan, who led all Coyotes with 11 extra-man goals last season. With so much turnover from last season’s squad, there will be plenty of auditions for power-play time during the course of the season. Daniel Carcillo scored three goals with the man advantage last year, despite dressing for only 18 games.
Up and Coming
Daniel Carcillo -- He’s only 22, but still managed to make an impact in his limited cameo appearance last season when he scored seven points in 18 games with the Coyotes. Originally Pittsburgh’s third-round selection in 2003, Carcillo made a successful jump last season from the AHL, where he scored 30 points in 52 games for the Baby Pens, to his short stint with the Coyotes.
Kyle Turris -- The third-overall pick in the 2007 Draft will not be in Phoenix this season, and might not be in a Coyotes uniform for some time as he will play for the University of Wisconsin, at least this year. But when he does decide he’s ready for the NHL, the Coyotes will have one of their more anticipated prospects in the fold.
Blake Wheeler -- The Coyotes took the Minnesota native fifth-overall in 2004, but have been waiting for him to finish his college career with the Gophers. When he does arrive in Phoenix, he’s expected to be at the forefront of their youth movement. Scouts love his 6-foot-5 size and Coyotes fans can dream about him operating on a line with Turris one day down the road. Last year at Minnesota, he scored 18 goals and 38 points in 44 games.
Peter Mueller -- The Coyotes are praying the kid is ready for prime time this season. He was signed to an entry level contract in July and could factor into the Phoenix blueprint as high as the first-line center this season. The 19-year-old Minnesota native is exactly what the team is looking for with his combination of youth, size (he’s 6-foot-2), energy, and limitless potential. He was selected eighth-overall in 2006 and the future is supposed to be now in Phoenix. Question is, will Mueller be ready this fall?