Today we’re going to start talking about the forward situation for the Arizona Coyotes. The position of right wing is a bit lacking in depth for the Coyotes, especially compared to the other places up front. The arrival of veteran Radim Vrbata seemingly shores up the top nine on the right side.
We all know what Anthony Duclair is capable of. Even more so when he’s playing with Max Domi.
Anthony Duclair may have been one of the best trades former general manager Don Maloney made in the last few seasons of his tenure in Arizona, even though losing Keith Yandle has been tough on the power play. Duclair and Domi were inseparable during the World Juniors in 2015, on an amazing top line with Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres).
Even thought Duclair and Domi only played with each other for a few games, you can see the brilliance they have together. This season we could see Domi and Duclair together full time, and that would be the offensive spark that the Coyotes have been looking for.
In 81 games last year, he scored 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in his first NHL season. This year, he could be more productive, which would be a tremendous list for what has been an offense lacking in star power for many years.
This is the third tour of duty with the Coyotes for Radim Vrbata, and as he said during media day. "It’s always felt like home."
In the two years he was with the Canucks his numbers were nothing special, although really he went from penthouse to poorhouse as far as linemates are concerned.
The numbers above represent Vrbata's scoring and possession rates when combined predominantly with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. Now take a look of what those figures just a year prior, when he played mainly with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Sedins are an otherworldly talent, but he will likely be playing with some of Martin Hanzal, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, and/or Tobias Rieder (maybe). The Coyotes could be adding another 15 to 20 goals on the low side, which would be useful for the Coyotes this season with the loss of Mikkel Boedker and the possible loss of Rieder.
The Captain has returned for his 21st season in the NHL and is still securely in the 3rd line position. In 72 games, he scored 28 goals with 19 assists for 47 points. He lead the team in goals, which isn’t too shabby for a nearly 40-year-old winger.
Doan will continue to be a force on this team until he decides to hang up his skates. Love him or hate him, he will always be Captain Coyote.
Christian Fischer (*)
Christian Fischer could be the surprise rookie that makes the lineup. He was drafted in 2015 at 32nd overall, just a couple of picks behind Nick Merkley. He is a smart, two-way winger who played in the US National Development Program, and then decided to play in the OHL instead of going to college.
Last year with the Windsor Spitfires he played 66 games with 40 goals and 50 assists for 90 points. And in the six games he played with the Springfield Falcons, he had two goals and one assist. At 6' 2" and 212 pounds, he's physically ready for the NHL. But even if he doesn't make it, he is AHL eligible by virtue of being drafted while in the USHL, so Tucson may be in his future.
Fischer could be this year's Jordan Martinook. Keep an eye on him.
Stefan Fournier was also part of the John Scott Trade/Debacle. He played with the St. Johns Ice Caps for 25 games and only had five goals and two assists for seven points. When he was traded to the Coyotes, he went to Springfield and in 32 games played he had two goals and two assists.
Fournier is not like his former OHL linemates in Nate MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and may just be someone for the AHL. He also fought Paul Bissonnette in the Coyotes' opening preseason game, which was brave of him.
Nick Merkley is a talented player, but the last year has rough for him. He missed the full training camp with one injury, and then missed a good portion of his last major-junior season with a pretty devastating ACL injury. He is fully rehabbed and able to take contact. Hopefully, he will go back to the Kelowna Rockets and be able to show the Coyotes the true player that they drafted. In the 43 games he was able to play last year, he posted 17 goals and 31 assists for 48 points.
What does it mean?
The Coyotes need some help on the right side. The Coyotes believe Conor Garland is better on the off-wing, which weakens the position depth more. There is some help on the way, but to get the most out of it, it will be PTO’s and not players the Coyotes have drafted.