A fresh style for the Arizona Coyotes’ offense should provide a spark of thrilling hockey up and down the lineup in the upcoming NHL season.
John Chayka and the rest of the Coyotes organization have placed a focus on the Arizona Coyotes’ forward core this summer. It seems as if a solid core has been identified, and Arizona has spent a good portion of its budget to surround those players in hopes for a surprising playoff appearance next season.
Over the course of the past few seasons, it’s been the emergence of Clayton Keller as the team’s top winger, the addition of Derek Stepan in the previous summer and the promotion of Dylan Strome to the NHL team.
All of these players are poised for big point totals in the upcoming campaign, especially since Chayka has continued to add more in this offseason. The likes of Alex Galchenyuk, Vinnie Hinostroza and Michael Grabner help pinpoint focus in a soup of aspects needed in the offensive game.
There might be more moves on the horizon in the desert, but for now, the offense is looking stronger than ever on paper. Of course, a full campaign can go a long way into changing excitement, but that’s remained to be seen.
Depth is finally starting to show for Arizona, which makes the potential line combinations that much more interesting. Here are the predicted line combinations that Rick Tocchet could use on opening day.
Fourth line: Laurent Dauphin-Brad Richardson-Michael Grabner
The fourth line is vulnerable to change in the upcoming season because of the amount of fringe players within the Coyotes’ organization. It should keep the bottom line on their toes while providing a willingness to play their best hockey.
Brad Richardson is a lock for the center position on the fourth line. The 32-year-old had a shaky 2017-18 campaign when scoring three goals and providing 12 helpers, but his minus-24 is not attractive regardless of the meaning of the stat.
Tocchet needs to spare his minutes wisely. Let Richardson use his frame to wear down opposing lines, while the top lines take over from that point on.
Plus, Richardson will have to keep pace with Michael Grabner and Laurent Dauphin, another surprise candidate for the right wing position.
Grabner’s inconsistency is going to result in hindered minutes at first. The occasional breakout pass will make the overall value of the fourth line that much better. Tocchet is almost guaranteed to use the Austrian on the penalty kill as well.
Grabner needs to put in the stats to remain competent on the bottom line. Chances are that he ends up with the most points on the line by the end of the season, but he’ll need more to even think about surpassing Christian Fischer or Hinostroza on the depth chart.
To finalize the line is Dauphin, who could be rotated with Lawson Crouse or Nick Merkely. Crouse needs more time to hone some areas of his game, while Merkely seems to be too young to stick on the big team for right now.
Dauphin simply needs to do the small things well. Hold the puck in; take a good amount of shots and help the rest of his line play better. He’s young, so playing alongside some older veterans will hopefully help to progress the 23-year-old.