Free agent frenzy has come and gone, and the Arizona Coyotes added five faces to the team that did not end the season in Sedona Red last year. With these additions, the Coyotes 2015-16 roster begins to take shape.
So let's take a quick look ahead and try to piece together what Arizona's opening night roster will look like.
Out With the Old, In With the Slightly Older
The Coyotes brought back Boyd Gordon, Zbynek Michalek, and Antoine Vermette on short-term deals. This should solidify their #1 and #4 center spots for the upcoming season, with Martin Hanzal occupying his traditional #2 spot and new arrival Brad Richardson anchoring the third line.
Perhaps the most interesting moves Arizona made were on the blueline; they traded Sam Gagner away for Nicklas Grossmann and did not extend a qualifying offer to John Moore. Moore is now a member of the New Jersey Devils, while Grossmann and Michalek form the veteran backbone of the blueline.
The Current Roster
So based on the players Arizona has on its roster now, here's what their depth chart could look like for 2015-16:
Open - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Open - Martin Hanzal - Tobias Rieder
Shane Doan - Brad Richardson - Open
Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Steve Downie/Joe Vitale
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek
Klas Dahlbeck - Michael Stone
Nicklas Grossmann/Brandon Gormley - Connor Murphy
Anders Lindback/Louis Domingue
Operating under the assumption that the Coyotes bring back all of their RFAs before the season starts, the defense is all but set as far as personnel goes, and there's a clear battle between Lindback and Domingue for the #2 job.
With the infusion of youth likely on the way, Shane Doan should be able to move down to the third line, which is more suitable for his age at this stage of his career. All that remains to determine is who fills those last three forward spots.
Max Domi is all but certain to make the roster barring some truly unforeseen turn of events at training camp. Anthony Duclair also seems like a strong candidate given he already has NHL experience and turned in a terrific postseason for the Quebec Ramparts in the QMJHL. Theoretically, that leaves one spot open for a young forward to take.
I'm not a tremendous fan of playing young players in bottom six roles, especially if their future role is to play in the top six. But there's a spot on the right side of the third line that a young forward could work himself into.
Lucas Lessio would seem like a good candidate given the long look he received last season, but Henrik Samuelsson, Craig Cunningham, and Jordan Szwarz could make the team with good training camps.
Though General Manager Don Maloney had inferred that players like Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak could get looks on lines with two-way forwards, Dvorak could start the season in the AHL and play big minutes there, while the team takes their time developing Strome.
A Projected Roster
So based on the open spots and the current status of the Coyotes' prospect pool, here is my projection for the opening night roster of the 2015-16 Arizona Coyotes:
Max Domi - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Anthony Duclair - Martin Hanzal - Tobias Rieder
Shane Doan - Brad Richardson - Lucas Lessio
Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Joe Vitale/Steve Downie
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone
Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek
Nicklass Grossmann/Brandon Gormley - Connor Murphy
The Coyotes' general manager has implied that he may not be done adding pieces; another right handed defenseman and a veteran scoring winger were possibilities Don Maloney posited after the first day of free agency ended.
But based on who the Coyotes have currently and where the franchise as a whole stands going into next season, it may be wise to go to October without any new additions and allow the team to find its own identity before sacrificing any future assets.