Whatever was ailing Brendan Perlini in Niagara appears to be long gone.
The Arizona Coyotes’ top pick in 2014 is off to a terrific start with the high-flying Tucson Roadrunners. So far this season, Perlini leads the Roadrunners in goals with eight, and 12 total points in 11 games. How good is that? Well...
Per @RRVoiceTom, Brendan Perlini's 8 goals leads all rookies in the AHL, as does his 5 power play markers.— Alexander Kinkopf (@AEKinkopf) November 19, 2016
Now, it should be noted that Perlini is currently shooting a ridiculous 30.8% right now, so his offensive explosion is probably not sustainable long-term. But given that the Coyotes need help now, maybe Perlini is the right player to provide it.
Arizona has mustered just six goals over their last four games, and is seriously lucky to have gotten points out of any of those contests. Moreover, Arizona’s third leading scorer - Brad Richardson - is going to be out for a long time after breaking two bones in his leg on Thursday night against Vancouver.
So an offense that has already been consistently poor is losing one of its better contributors. That makes a bad situation even worse.
At 30th in the league, the Coyotes don’t have much to lose. Mike Smith and Louis Domingue have looked sharp in recent starts, and Arizona is has only given up ten goals in the same four game stretch mentioned above. Those are winnable contests if the Coyotes can score.
Brendan Perlini is scoring at even-strength. He’s scoring on the power play. And he brings size to a team that has seriously struggled to generate chances down low against opposing goaltenders. Why not give him an opportunity?
Both Laurent Dauphin and Jordan Martinook have played the center position this year. It would not be particularly difficult for the Coyotes to keep both at the center position. In which case, their lineup would look like:
Max Domi - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Jamie McGinn - Dylan Strome - Anthony Duclair
OPEN - Jordan Martinook - Tobias Rieder
Lawson Crouse - Laurent Dauphin - Ryan White
And even if the Coyotes opted to keep Dauphin on the wing and call up a more veteran center like Craig Cunningham, Tyler Gaudet, or Chris Mueller, there’s still a 13th forward slot open. The Coyotes could rotate Crouse or Dauphin in and out of the lineup with Perlini.
So far, it looks like Perlini’s struggles in Niagara were more mental than physical. His confidence is undoubtedly sky-high with Tucson’s excellent start. The Arizona Coyotes should reward his excellent play with an opportunity to demonstrate why he was worth taking at 12th overall in 2014.