Shane Doan led the offense for the sixth straight season with a pedestrian 55 points in 82 games. To his credit he still managed to carry the offense despite switching to a strictly defensive system. A decrease from 31 goals to 18 does cause concern as the soon-to-be 34-year-old will not get any younger. Regardless he should lead the team for the seventh straight year this upcoming season as the main threat to the Coyotes.
Outside of Doan, Scottie Upshall, Wojtek Wolski and Matthew Lombardi were fantasy relevant.
Upshall posted career highs with 32 points in 49 games prior to a season-ending injury. If Upshall continues to see top line minutes he should once again show that offensive flair that make him a potential 30 goal player.
Wolski filled in on the top line adequately and could potentially pivot the top line next season. After coming over during the trade deadline he posted 18 points in 18 games, 12 of which coming as assists. That same playmaking nature should keep him at least on the first powerplay line despite his maddening inconsistency. Perhaps head coach Dave Tippett can continue to get the most out of Wolski as he enters his prime.
Lombardi has since left for Nashville, a similarly hardworking team with a shot at making the playoffs. Other notable forwards include the suddenly consistent Radim Vrbata and hulking forward Martin Hanzal but until the Coyotes prove to be a more offensive team there will be better options.
Ed Jovanovski continues to be a work horse for the team while remaining a threat from the blueline. The 34-year-old posted 10 goals in only 66 games and brings an added PIM boost to most rosters even though he only registered 55 PIM this past season. As a number four defenseman, he fills out the fantasy roster adequately if available in a late round.
Keith Yandle proved to be the future of the blue line with his 41 point campaign. A surprising snub from the Team USA Olympic team, the young Yandle has improved in each of his three NHL seasons and should be a solid option come draft day. At 23-years-old he may have hit his ceiling but if he can continue to improve he should become one of the better young American defensemen.
Adrian Aucoin may be the only other suitable player on the back end as he potted eight goals last season. He may not be able to do the same going forward but he certainly has a booming shot from the point. As long as he continues to possess that skill he will be an asset on the blue line and could post replacement level production going forward.
Ilya Bryzgalov was far and away the best fantasy player for the Coyotes. Our final rankings last season put him second behind Ryan Miller. With a 2.26 GAA and .920 SV% he was a pleasant surprise to all owners, especially when they learned his new coach would protect him at all costs. As long as Tippett continues to deploy the troops in a defensive stance, Bryzgalov will post top 5-10 peripherals.
Expecting a goalie to repeat that amazing season, but Bryzgalov should be a solid option going into next season.
On the Bench:
Coming to the team during training camp, Tippett taught the team how to play defense. After numerous losing seasons under Wayne Gretzky the team appeared lost and desperately needing direction. Tippett with the help of shrewd GM Don Maloney helped give the team an identity and lead them to their first post-lockout playoff berth.
He truly became one of the feel-good stories of the year even with his top guns failing to outscore second line threats on a team like Washington or Chicago.
The Bottom Line:
Not every team needs to score goals to be successful, the Coyotes proved that this past year. Much like the Minnesota Wild of the earlier 2000s, teams like this will need to continue to scratch in order to stay in the race. Do not be fooled by the surprising 4th place seed this past season, the team has a lot to prove moving forward. They may be a few years away from hitting their peak as players like Kyle Turris, Michael Boedker and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are yet to make a serious impact.