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Monday Morning Musings: the illusion of youth

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Are the Coyotes actually worse off with the young prospects in the minors?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes had about as wild of an up and down first week as can be imagined. The utter despair after a 6-2 loss to Winnipeg on Thursday gave way the joy of a 3-2 overtime win over Los Angeles on Saturday.

Arizona ends the week 1-1, a fitting start for a team who may very well hang around the .500 mark this season. Game No. 1 showed what can happen when everything goes wrong, while game No. 2 displayed the Coyotes' ability to knock off any opponent.

We do not yet know which game best represents the 2014-15 Coyotes, but in the meantime, let's take a look back at the week that was in Coyotes hockey:

- With each win and each loss a narrative can be formed about the Coyotes needing youth in their lineup. Is it a bit of the devil you don't know effect? I think it is. The illusion of youth may be the driving force behind most of the hysteria following Arizona's top prospects being sent down. Ask yourself: what were the expectations for those players this season?

- Take Max Domi for example. What was his realistic ceiling in year one? 25 points? 30 points? 35 points? How about Lucas Lessio, Henrik Samuelsson or Tobias Rieder?

- Now consider the ceilings (and considerably higher floors) of players like Lauri Korpikoski, David Moss, Brandon McMillan and even Rob Klinkhammer. In totality, offensively and defensively, is there that much of a difference? Is there any difference?

- I suspect much of the worry surrounding these moves stem either from an unrealistic expectations of production for players with little or no NHL experience or from the want for the team to just be different. In reality, how much better would those players be in year one?

- Mike Smith had a poor preseason and an even worse opening night after finishing last season injured. I think he will bounce back, but who knows to what level. He may never be the Mike Smith of 2011-12 ever again, but the Coyotes don't need him to be a Vezina candidate in order to make the playoffs. He just has to be significantly above average.

- It looks like Mikkel Boedker is well on his way to taking yet another big step in his development. Two goals in two games for the pending RFA has to make him and his agent very happy.

- While Sam Gagner hasn't found the scoresheet in his two games in Sedona Red, he has managed to be a solid possession player and has found a way to make a few creative plays. Hopefully players like Korpikoski and Moss can find the back of the net 5v5 more so than they did with Mike Ribeiro.

- Devan Dubnyk had a solid debut against the Kings on Saturday, but his rebound control is an issue. The Coyotes' defensive system can help wash away some of those mistakes, but he needs to be a little better in that area going forward.

- Some of the previous concern noted above came out again on Sunday as the Coyotes assigned preseason star Justin Hodgman to the AHL. With Sam Gagner staying at 3C, there is no room for the 26-year-old. He will get plenty of playing time in Portland, but fans should really temper expectations for a player with no NHL experience and more IHL and KHL experience than AHL experience.