Coyotes Roundtable with Special Guest Fox Sports Arizona's Graham Taylor

Christian Petersen

With the Coyotes season on life support this week's edition looks forward to the rest of this season, as well as next season. This week's Roundtable is comprised of associate editor Brendan Porter, special guest Fox Sports Arizona Coyotes producer Graham Taylor, and myself. The majority of this week's questions came via Twitter. On the subject of Twitter, you find this week's special guest on the social media site. His feed is @goldencanuck.

Is there any chance the Phoenix Coyotes win their next 6 games and sneak into the playoffs?

Graham: There's always a chance, but if you look realistically at the way this team has played over the last month, with a losing streak, then a points in 8 of 9 streak... the inconsistency is frustrating. Over the past three seasons under Coach Tippett, every time we didn't think the team could pull something out, we were proven wrong. This one, though, is a pretty big rabbit to produce.

Brendan: I don't see it happening. The Coyotes have to play road games against Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Anaheim. While they might be able to beat a few of those teams, I have a really hard time seeing Phoenix beating all of them. They can't lose any points, so even an OT loss would effectively eliminate the Coyotes from the playoffs.

Carl: Possible? Yes, but extremely unlikely. I just don't see it happening. Heck, I have doubts on their ability to win their next game against the blues given their poor history recently against Ken Hitchcock's club. The team has had too many issues this season to expect a playoff berth.

Do you see a future for Chris Conner in the organization? (Submitted by @dfuciarelli)

Graham: Conner has been a pleasant surprise since his recall, only inserted to the lineup after the trades that saw Sullivan and Lombardi leave. He's got good energy, skill and speed and while you hope someone in that "called up from the farm" situation would simply not hurt the team, he's been solid enough to really help lead the charge for this team during the most critical stretch of the season. How this team gets re-shaped in the off-season will determine where he fits in, but I think he's definitely earned a chance to put himself in the discussion about long-term plans.

Brendan: Not really. I think he's been a great infusion of energy late in the season, but in terms of size and role, he's very similar to guys like Andy Miele and Brendan Shinnimin. I think the Coyotes would opt to go with the younger players and try and develop them into NHLers.

Carl: I could see him being re-signed as a depth player for another year, but I don't see him being a Coyotes long term. He's the kind of guy who is nice to have fill in when you need a body because he won't look out of place, but he's likely not going to turn into an every game NHLer at this point.

Who are the most important building block(s) for next year? (Submitted by @KalebReedy)

Graham: Getting a top goaltender, a guy like Mike Smith can be, back in the fold is the most important block right now. This team needs that position to succeed. You look at the team since Dave Tippett took over. A lot of low-scoring close games. When they've given up 3 goals or fewer (which isn't asking too much) they're 141-36-34. Those are great numbers for a team that's ranked T-21st in the NHL in goals for over that same span. Smith has again proven he can be an anchor for the team. His injuries really came at inopportune moments of the season.

Brendan: In my mind, the two most important building blocks will be Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Brandon Gormley. This team lives and dies on the strength of its defense, and these two figure to be important pieces in that system for a long time. Combined with the fact that Keith Yandle is likely the Coyotes most marketable trading asset (though that doesn't necessarily mean they should deal him), how their young defensemen develop will really determine how long it will take for the Coyotes to become a legitimate Cup contender.

Carl: If we are talking about the roster then it's figuring out the goalie situation. Unless there is a white knight coming with gobs of cash this franchise is likely going to have to try and win how they have in the recent past which means relying heavily on their goaltenders and defense. They either need to re-sign Mike Smith or sign or trade for another number one goalie. None of their talented goalie prospects is likely ready for NHL duty yet. Their D is the solid foundation of the team. They have all their key defenders signed through next season. If anything their D will be better next season with Michael Stone's improvement and Brandon Gormley possibly pushing for a roster spot.

What off-season moves need to be made to strengthen the team? (Submitted by @Barbie4Yotes)

Graham: I think what this team really needs though is an offensive threat -- that kind of player that every time they touch the puck you never know what might happen. Not every team is blessed with a Crosby or a Stamkos, but having that threat, that top-line and powerplay sniper, could really help keep opposing teams on their toes and make the match-ups that much more difficult. Give the Coyotes coaching staff a player like that, and I think they would really stretch his value, just as they've done with all the players that Don Maloney has brought in.

Brendan: The number one priority remains the same for a long time: the Coyotes need a legitimate #1 center. Martin Hanzal has demonstrated some effectiveness this season, but his skill set makes him closer to a #2 than a #1. As we saw with Ray Whitney's departure, the Coyotes really struggle on offense when they don't have someone who can produce points on a consistent basis. They also will need to re-sign Mike Smith, Boyd Gordon, Dave Tippett, and Don Maloney to prevent themselves from backtracking even further.

Carl: The Coyotes need help at forward, though unless they make a trade which doesn't increase their cap number or GM Don Maloney finds another diamond in the rough I'm not sure anything happens given their budget constraints.

Bonus Question just for Graham - When are you inviting us all over to watch the scenes that were cut from Shane Doan: In My Own Words?

Graham: Sounds like a fun "movie in the yard" night at the Taylor Ranch (which isn't really a ranch, and doesn't have a big screen. But, I could hold up my iPad and give everyone a folding chair and binoculars). In all honesty, though, the cutting room floor stuff was great to have on our shows and on FOXSportsArizona.com. What I liked most about the In My Own Words final cut was how it was so little about hockey. Those cutting room floor features were more about the story we already knew about Shane. It truly was one of the most rewarding projects I've ever worked on.

Editor's Note: The 140 character format of Twitter doesn't always work well for full responses. The above questions which were submitted by our readers were altered to fit the format.

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