With only a few hours to go before the Arizona Coyotes begin the 2015-16 season, the Five For Howling team came up with several scintillating questions to answer.
There are some hard questions and hard choices for Coyotes management and fans to make this season. We brought together almost our entire staff to answer them. Our contributors to this roundtable are:
- Brendan Porter, Managing Editor
- Carl Putnam, Editor Emeritus
- Ioannis Argyriou - Content Editor
- Sarah Hall - Editorial Contributor
- Carl Pavlock - Staff Writer
- Taylor Clark - Community Media Manager
Which center would you place Max Domi with to maximize his talents if you were Dave Tippett?
Taylor Clark - Going off of what I've seen this preseason, both games and just at practices at camp, I will say Antoine Vermette. The line consisting of him, Anthony Duclair and Domi looked impressive at the Red vs White Scrimmage and the following preseason games. Vermette and Domi had great chemistry and I would expect the line to produce quite often.
Brendan Porter - It looks like Dave Tippett is going with Domi, Vermette, and Mikkel Boedker for at least the first shift of the season, but I like the possibility of pairing Domi with Martin Hanzal. I think Hanzal's size and ability to cause problems in front of the net can help pull defenders away from the areas where Domi is best. I expect we'll see the two together at some point.
Which player will be the biggest surprise?
Carl Putnam - Anthony Duclair. Max Domi has gotten the lion's share of the press, but Duclair already has a bit of NHL experience and due to his bigger size may have fewer adjustments to make early in his career.
Sarah Hall - I think Tobias Rieder will continue to be awesome but I think the biggest surprise will be how well Klas Dahlbeck rounds out as a defender with Michalek as his mentor.
Brendan - Continuing Sarah's theme on defense, I'm going to say Michael Stone. The Coyotes swung and missed at Dougie Hamilton, and opted not to go for free agents like Cody Franson and Christian Ehrhoff. Stone appears to be the guy (for now) next to OEL; I think he'll be up to the task.
Who will emerge as the team’s MVP this season?
Taylor - With the upward trend he displayed last year I would say OEL. Starting to seriously be considered as one of the best defensemen in the league is no small feat and I expect him to only continue to work his way towards a Norris trophy.
Carl Pavlock - Oliver Ekman-Larsson. I think if this team is going to win it is going to win because of defense, and OEL will be leading that group and playing the toughest minutes.
Editor's Note: In what will likely be the biggest surprise ever, every single staff member picked Ekman-Larsson.
Does Shane Doan stay for the season or does he go for his cup?
Sarah - Irrationally, Captain Coyote can never leave. Rationally he should get his cup, but he also saw a good friend do the same and not get it. I want Shane Doan to retire a Coyote. I just don’t know how rational it is anymore.
Carl Putnam - For Doan's sake, I hope he leaves and wins a Cup, though Ray Bourque experiences are rare. For the fan's sake, I hope he stays. Fans love the 'one team' thing.
What would your ideal scenario be for this season?
Ioannis Argyriou - The Coyotes just manage to sneak into the playoffs. Then Mike Smith thinks it’s 2012, and averages 50 saves per game with a save percentage of 99%. The Coyotes win the Stanley Cup against the Red Wings, who fail to score a single goal. The octopi that were never thrown in Joe Louis Arena are given to Smith. He eats them.
In all seriousness, I’d love to see playoff hockey back in Arizona, but the most important thing is to see progress in the rookies’ development, and for the team to be more competitive than last year.
Brendan - I think most ideal scenarios will center around player development. I think Domi, Duclair, and Rieder need to show the most consistent improvement as the season goes on. Jordan Martinook, Henrik Samuelsson, and/or Tyler Gaudet earning a spot during the season would be a bonus.
Winning the Draft Lottery would be immeasurably helpful in so many ways too, but the Coyotes also need to manage their assets carefully this season to fill gaps in their prospect pool. There aren't a ton of high-end defensive prospects, and there are huge questions about their goaltending prospects. Both of those issues will need to be addressed to ensure the rebuild comes together the way it has to.
With the chances of the Coyotes making the playoffs being in the highly unlikely range why should I watch or attend games this season?
Ioannis - A young team with so much potential should be really fun to watch, regardless of their playoff hopes. Who doesn't want to watch Max Domi or Anthony Duclair in action? This team might not make it to the playoffs, but it can certainly keep things interesting.
Carl Pavlock - There is poutine at Gila River Arena now. Worth it.