Arizona Coyotes Busy Month Awaits


The Arizona Coyotes started the month of February with a big upset victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the Bell Centre. If they’re looking for a similar result throughout the rest of the month, they’ll have to keep that improved play up.

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After a month in which they went 3-7-2, the Coyotes currently sit at 6th place in the Pacific Division and 13th in the western Conference. Only the Sabres, Oilers and Hurricanes have accumulated less amount of points at this juncture of the season.

Arizona will turn into to a youth movement this upcoming month and if the results don’t come, at least there is valuable experience to be learned. Whether it be through injury or through potential trades, there could be spots in the lineup that the young faces will have an opportunity to fill.

Mikkel Boedker, last month’s leading goal scorer, suffered a ruptured spleen injury in the middle of January and isn’t expected to return to the lineup this month. Martin Hanzal has also been dealing with an upper body injury and hasn’t been on the ice at consistent rate because of his health.

Jan 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette (50) carries the puck during the first period against the Ottawa Senators at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Antoine Vermette, who leads Arizona forwards in average ice time, has been the subject of trade rumors. In fact, the return on Vermette could be as high as a 1st round draft pick. Given the amount of teams looking for center depth in their lineups, Vermette could soon be donning a new sweater.

Any team looking for a deep run in the playoffs will also take a look at Keith Yandle, the Coyotes high scoring defenseman. Yandle leads Arizona with 30 assists and is an attractive option for teams lacking some offensive firepower on the blue line. The Coyotes are certain to demand a high return on Yandle as well.

One player that certainly won’t be part of these trade rumors any longer is the captain, Shane Doan. GM Don Maloney stated the Doan was the only untouchable on the Coyotes roster, to the displeasure of many Oliver Ekman-Larsson fans.

Jan 8, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) looks on during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Ekman-Larsson proudly represented the Coyotes in the All Star weekend in Columbus and is a player that is definitely going to garner more attention in the coming weeks. Ekman-Larsson leads the Coyotes as well as NHL defenseman with 14 goals and is a cornerstone for the Arizona franchise. It would take more than moving mountains for Ekman-Larsson to depart the valley.

However, one player that was traded last month was Devan Dubnyk, the Coyotes former backup goaltender. This opened the way for a trio of goaltenders (Mike Lee, Mike McKenna and Louis Domingue) to appear in Coyotes sweaters only to backup Mike Smith.

It was Louis Domingue who debuted against the Senators late in January on mop up duty and started the month of February with his first career NHL start and victory over the Canadiens. The Quebec native had plenty of family and friends watch him collect his first win.

Another young skater that has taken his opportunity to show his worth has been Tobias Rieder. Whether it was an injury to Doan earlier last month or the current prolonged absence of Boedker, it has been Rieder that has joined the first line and he has not looked out of place. Last month he was a participant in all of the Coyotes 12 games and collected 6 points. The former Edmonton Oilers prospect is sure to see his increase in playing time stay the course with the potential parting of other players.

If Yandle were to be moved before the deadline, young defensemen such as Connor Murphy and Michael Stone are sure to jump at the opportunity for more ice time. Stone, the 24-year old Arizona draft pick from 2008, logged over 20 minutes of average ice time last month. Murphy, the 21-year old draft pick from 2011, is currently on the third defensive pairing and would immediately be a benficiary if any other defenseman were to be moved.

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The schedule for the month of February will only contain three matchups between teams located in the lower third of the NHL (Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey). Matchups against Boston, Chicago, Detroit, the Rangers, the Islanders, St. Louis and Tampa Bay will undoubtedly test the resilience of the young Coyotes and test the leadership from the older members of the teams. February will only feature one matchup against Pacific Division opponents (San Jose).

As the schedule for the Coyotes turns more difficult, dreams of Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid become more of reality. One of McDavid’s teammates on Team Canada this past World Juniors, Max Domi, is sure to create some excitement as the weeks pass by. Whispers of Domi, one of the league’s most promising prospects, receiving a cup of coffee with the Coyotes will turn into full blown conversations.

With obstacles such as the frequent injury, the growing trade rumors of the most relevant skaters, or the demanding schedule, the Arizona Coyotes have a month ahead of them that is sure to be one full of action on the ice, and off the ice.