It's a little under seven weeks until the 2007-08 NHL season opens in London, England on September 29th (blimey!) and it's time to start previewing the season. I'm starting these season previews really, really early but that's only because there's no way I can write 30 solid previews in only a couple of weeks. If I'm going to preview every single NHL team, and I'm going to try my hardest to do so, it will take all seven weeks and then some... And as you might have guessed, these aren't going to be your standard season previews.
- In case you were wondering, Rick Tocchet is still taking the fall for (I assume) Wayne and Janet Gretzky.
- New Coyotes GM Don Maloney says that signing Mike York to a one-year deal was his best move since he brought Kirk Muller to Long Island in 1995.
- The Coyotes motto for the upcoming season: "We're not the Arizona Cardinals. Honest."
Odds for the folks at gambler's anonymous
6 to 1: The Coyotes finish in the cellar of the Pacific, and continue to remain completely irrelevant for another year.
10 to 1: Rick Tocchet receives a slap on the wrist and also continues to be completely irrelevant.
20 to 1: Alex Auld regrets his decision by October 28th.
Obligatory serious analysis
To put it bluntly, it's going to be a long year in the desert for 'Yotes fans. After finishing dead last in the Western Conference last season, the team overhauled it's front office. The most notable addition was naming Don Maloney General Manager, but I'm not so convinced that move will bring any serious talent to the team (my thoughts on the matter are here). The off season hasn't spurred much more excitement, save for the selection of stud forward Kyle Turris with the third pick in the draft. If Turris' Beirut habits don't hinder his development, he could be a serious star on the team in no time. The only other good news is that JR's time in the desert appears to be over, which should be a plus considering he never added much to the on-ice product.
That being said, there's not a whole lot of other positive things to say about the former Winnipeg Jets.
The Curtis Joseph experiment appears to be over as the Coyotes have signed David Aebischer and Alex Auld this summer, and still have Mikael Tellqvist on the roster. All this has created a nice backlog of average and below average NHL net minders. Despite the fact that Phoenix is in the same division as Anaheim, I can't help but wonder if Brian Burke will try and sell Maloney on Ilya Bryzgalov if the Auld/Aebischer/Tellqvist experiment doesn't pan out.
The corps of forwards isn't looking much better, save for Shane Doan and Steven Reinprecht. Their biggest offensive signing this off season? Mike freaking York. The same Mike York who put up a -18 rating and 21 points in 66 games last season. That's less than half his career average in a given year. There's really not much else to say about Phoenix's forwards. It's so bad over there, they paid Dave Scatchard to leave. Only Columbus, Chicago and Edmonton scored fewer goals than the Coyotes last season, and none of those teams finished higher than 11th in the divsion.
Prediction: It's going to be a long, long year. My bet is the Coyotes finish last out West again this season.