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Monday Morning Musings: the sky is not falling

It was an interesting offseason for the Coyotes, but the team will be a postseason contender in 2014-15.

Bruce Bennett

It was an up and down offseason for the Arizona Coyotes. By that I mean there was an up here or there and plenty of downs.

The offseason had a little bit of everything: a trade, a buyout, and even ownership drama!

However, the Coyotes still have enough skill to contend for a playoff spot should Mike Smith play somewhere near his three-year average in Arizona.

Let's take a look back at an offseason that was for the Coyotes:

  • While there was a lot of talk of a youth movement around the team, general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett made it clear from the start that they were not just going to throw young guys in the lineup just for the sake of throwing them in the lineup. None of the star rookies made the squad, but Justin Hodgman did earn himself an opening night role.
  • I was surprised Max Domi did not get a nine-game NHL trial. He showed flashes of brilliance and flashes of invisibility in the preseason. Maybe they did not want to get his hopes up if they did not think he would make the team anyway. Back to London he goes with all three years of his ELC intact.
  • Third line center is a major area of concern for the Coyotes. If newcomer Sam Gagner plays on the RW next to Martin Hanzal and Martin Erat, Arizona is forced to use Kyle Chipchura, Joe Vitale or Justin Hodgman at 3C. That is troublesome.
  • It is for that reason I think Gagner should stay at 3C until a suitable replacement is found. One area the Coyotes can compete with up front with other Pacific Division teams is in bottom-six depth. Gagner on the second line severely hurts the third line.
  • I am starting to worry a little bit about Brandon Gormley. Think back to draft day when many expected him to be a top five pick -- he fell to No. 13. He has played four years on juniors and two full AHL seasons, when will he break out? He is 22 so I am not too worried, but you have to begin to wonder if other teams in the top 10 of the 2010 draft knew something.
  • Henrik Samuelsson, Tobias Rieder, Lucas Lessio and Jordan Szwarz will get NHL playing time this season. How much is anyone's guess.
  • I thought the Brandon McMillan, B.J. Crombeen and Vitale line looked very good in the preseason. That fourth line has a lot more speed on it than years past and Crombeen looks like he will punch more than a few other players this season.
  • The new ownership deal, if approved, is a good thing for the team. An influx of cash, reduction of debt and increased franchise value are always good things. Getting most of your money back and keeping 49 percent of the franchise, how could anyone pass that up?
  • How will it affect the out-clause? I do not believe it changes anything. If the team loses $50 million they have the option to opt out of the lease agreement with Glendale. IceArizona has reiterated their desire to remain in Arizona to the fans and to Andrew Barroway. However, should things change, there is now an easy scapegoat to blame.
  • Will the Coyotes be a playoff team this year? As currently constructed, no. I have them 20th in my preseason power rankings, just outside of the playoff picture. They will not be as bad as people think, but I cannot see them finishing above 10th in the West.