The on-ice portion of training camp for the Phoenix Coyotes starts tomorrow. This year's camp opens with a bit of mystery surrounding the team. And I'm not talking about the ongoing ownership adventure. Let's to a look at what the plot points are likely to be over the next three weeks.
Will someone set them self apart and be named the starting goalie to start the season?
No position will likely be watched more closely than the netminder position this coming season. Veteran Mike Smith was brought in this off-season and will compete with Jason Labarbera for time in net. Coach Dave Tippett has made it clear that it is an open competition. While it is highly unlikely anything will be resolved in camp, it will be interesting to see how each looks in net and whether or not goalie coach Sean Burke can bring consistency to Smith's play.
Will Kyle Turris sign?
The two sides remain far apart on contract terms according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday. If the negotiations continue to demonstrate little movement does Coyotes GM Don Maloney decide to trade his rights and move on? If so, who takes his spot at center?
Will the young guys push a vet or two for playing time on the wings?
When GMDM traded Scottie Upshall this past Spring he make it clear part of the reason was to open up playing time for young guys like Mikael Boedker, Brett MacLean, and Viktor Tikhonov. Boedker likely has a spot in the lineup due to his solid two way play. Maclean and Tikhonov, on the other hand, will likely need a strong camp to stay up with the big club just given the numbers.
What will the line combinations look like going into the season?
Entering training camp the closest thing to a lock line wise is the combination of Ray Whitney, Daymond Langkow, and Shane Doan. Expect various combinations as the coaching staff tries to find the right combinations.
Which young defensemen will grab the 6th spot on the blueline?
Just like last season young pups Oliver Ekman-Larrsson and David Schlemko will again attempt grab the spot. This time around there will be a dark candidate added to the mix in the Coyotes 1st round draft pick from last year, Brandon Gormley. The 19 year old will probably have to tremendously outperform OEl and Schlemko to make the squad.
Will there be major changes in the structure of the special teams units?
The Yotes finished in the bottom third of the league on the power play (23rd) and penalty kill (26th) last season. With the changeover in assistant coaches, there might be a changeover is philosophies on the special teams units as well. The first hint in any changes should come in camp. In addition, one would assume newcomers Daymond Langkow and Boyd Gordon will see significant minutes on the power play and penalty kill units respectively.
Will a late FA signing, injury or trade shake up camp?
GMDM hinted after trading for Langkow over the summer that he had room in his budget to possibly sign another player. There are a number of veterans still unsigned, though at this late stage its hard to imagine the team bringing someone else in barring injuries. If there is an injury to a key player in camp will GMDM look at trading for a replacement? Or will a prospect step up and fill the hole?