LOOK OUT! Phoenix on schedule to become the next Pittsburgh after strong draft

I just love coming up with headlines that sound so newspaper-esque.

Alright, maybe it won’t happen exactly in 08-09. Maybe we’ll even have to wait two or three years.

But with all the players they just got, along with who they already have, doesn’t anybody see how Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Columbus could turn into major powers in the next few seasons?

Let’s look at Phoenix, I’ll show you why:

First of all, Phoenix’s roster already boasted a few young players that will make the team strong next season. Radim Vrbata, Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Daniel Winnik, Daniel Carcillo, Joel Perrault, and Craig Weller all played key roles last season up front. Arriving at forward next year; Kyle Turris for sure, and Bill Thomas and Enver Lisin could make the team as well. Acquired in a trade, Olli Jokinen will be the Coyotes top center next season. He could play with veteran captain Shane Doan and Vrbata. Steve Reinprecht will stick with the team as well, but may be relegated to a third line role in order for Mueller to continue his development.

On defense, the Coyotes are still relatively strong. Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard were traded, but the rest of the group is still fine. Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris are the two veterans of the group, while youngsters Keith Yandle and Matt Jones will surely be in the lineup as well. Ryan Caldwell will try and earn a full-time job on the third pairing, while it’ll be interesting to see whether Phoenix pushes for a free agent defender as GM Don Maloney has said at the NHL draft, or if they let college ‘D-man’ Chris Summers earn a top six spot as well.

Phoenix’s goaltending is locked up. Ilya Bryzgalov was a big reason that Phoenix nearly made the playoffs last season, and a full season from him will benefit the team. Mikael Tellqvist looks to be a steady back-up, while Josh Tordjman is playing solidly in the AHL.

As for propsects that haven’t had any NHL time yet, the Coyotes have two forwards in the system who could make an impact next season. Kevin Porter had a strong collegiate season with Michigan (CCHA) and has a complete game. Most seem to think that he will max out as a third-liner, but if Phoenix is lucky, he’ll produce at the NHL like he has in college. The other forward is Brett Maclean, who has had a starring season in the OHL. He plays alongside super-youngster John Tavares, and many say that’s the reason he scores so many goals. Then again, you have to be able to put the puck in the net. Maclean looks to be with the team in 09-10.

Phoenix also drafted two solid forwards in Mikkel Boedker and Viktor Tikhonov. It’s hard for me personally to get a read on Tikhonov, but I’m guessing that he’ll make the NHL in two or three years, mainly because of his Russian contract status and such. Boedker, though, is already in North America and has had a solid year with Kitchener of the OHL. I could see Boedker in the NHL next season, but it’s most likely that Phoenix will allow him to develop one more year in major junior. He’ll get a long camp look, though.

Well, I was going to take a look at Columbus and Los Angeles too, but I guess that’ll come after I finish watching the rest of the draft. In the mean time, enjoy debating about how weirdly I see the Coyotes turning out compared to how you guys see it.