Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Desert Dogs Looking to Dine on Competition

When you look at the Pacific Division, there aren't many teams who have made a huge splash in the off-season. Outside of the Anaheim Ducks (who acquired Chris Pronger), the Phoenix Coyotes have made a big splash. How it will play out will be the biggest of questions.

Though the Coyotes were able to get Nick Boynton, Ed Jovanovski, Jeremy Roenick, Georges Laraque, Mike Morrison, and more recently Owen Nolan; the general feeling is that the Coyotes wanted to get more experienced players and players whom aren't that intimidated by the presense of Wayne Gretzky behind the bench. Of course, worries of underachieving and injury are very much at the forefront with this group of six mentioned above.

Especially with Jovanovski and Nolan, the injury bug is a very real concern. Of course, Nolan is coming off an ugly ordeal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which he was able to get $5M as a settlement for his release. Plus, Nolan hasn't played competitive hockey for two-and-a-half years, so wondering if he'll be able to hold his own in the faster NHL is something that will be seen.

Jovanovski on the other hand hasn't played a full season since the 2001-02 season. However, when healthy, Jovo can be a dominate rear-guard. His 33 points only 44 games also proves that he can keep up, even with his size. With a young defense, the veteran presense will be a welcome addition to the blue-line core.

Roenick is another interesting pick-up. With his abysmal season in Los Angeles last season, Roenick needs to prove to the Coyotes, NHL, and himself that his awful season was just a fluke. Coming out-of-shape last season was the beginning of the end. Now, it seems that Roenick has come in with a new demeanor, he's not spouting off his mouth, and he seems re-focused to actually get back to his old ways. It'll take a lot of work being behind Mike Comrie and Steven Reinprecht in the depth chart, but Roenick just wants to show he still has it.

Nick Boynton may not be able to replace what Paul Mara brought, but his physical force and time in the league should be useful to the team. Georges Laraque is going to be the peacemaker for the club, while Mike Morrison will more than likely back-up Curtis Joseph, giving David LeNeveu more time in the minors to hone himself.

Though the lack of movement in the Pacific Divison, the Coyotes are definitely looking good in their own division behind the Ducks. Whether or not the moves on paper translate to results on the ice remains to be seen, but it can't hurt that the team is willing to put some money out there in order to get the best team out of the ice.

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