Adrian Aucoin has a special place in the hearts of many a Coyotes fan after last season. Defensively he was solid and dependable but not necessarily a standout. Where he really won the hearts of the fans was in his unlikely role as "The Closer"
Starting with a lengthy shootout against Nashville Aucoin was sent out in the 10th round of the talent competition to try and merciffully end the drawn out contest. He went high glove and sealed it for the winner. He would do so in 5 consecutive shootout appearances. The same move, high glove, was the game winner in each case downing the Blackhawks, Canucks, Thrashers and Stars. In all Aucoin finished the season with 6 goals in 9 tries in the shootout.
This season though the Coyotes will need Aucoin to be more than just the closer. WIth the loss of Zbynek Michalek ,who ate up ice time like it was candy, the team will need Aucoin to put in the same effort as last season. Aucoin led the team in ice time with an astounding 1,849:27 in total ice time for a game average of 22:33. Coach Dave Tippett had him playing in just about every situation imaginable. On the Power Play, Penalty kill and plenty of even strength time as well. There wasn't anything that he wasn't doing. He and the other veteran defensemen will have the extra responsibility of mentoring some of the youth we'll have on the blueline. Keith Yandle has mostly come into his own, but could still use a little seasoning. Sami Lepisto is developing nicely but needs to take his game to the next level. And the 6th defensive slot is yet to be decided. David Schlemko and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are the early candidates, but either way it's another young guy that can learn a lot from a grizzly vet like Adrian Aucoin.
Season Prediction: Aucoin should be leaned on again for those minutes and will have plenty of time to get points from the blueline. I like symmetry in numbers so I'll say 11-22-33 in terms of points and that his patented shootout move is needed far less so he only closes out a game or two.