With the departure of Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton from the Jokinen trade, Don Maloney will most certainly be looking at defense on July 1st. When I spoke to him at rookie night, he said value defenseman are the guys he will be looking at and not the big names like Redden and Campbell. Obviously with guys like Turris, Boedker, Porter, and possibly Kolarik taking up offensive duties this year, defense is the issue. Value guys seem to be Jason Smith, Jeff Finger, Bryce Salvador, Ron Hainsey, Jim Vandermeer, Paul Mara, and Mike Commodore. Obviously Maloney's age cap on the team will probably have to be broken to make sure the defense is shored up but I don't think he minds doing that, considering this team will be the youngest in the NHL. Veteran leadership is always important, no matter what position the player plays in. Right now Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, and Steven Reinprecht are the veterans with almost everyone else youngsters. Jason Smith would be a great defenseman to add considering his leadership and style of play. The Coyotes need physical defensemen to patrol the back end since Ballard and Boynton, 2 of their most physical guys, are now gone. Jeff Finger and Jim Vandermeer are very physical defensemen who are also not afraid to drop the mitts. Ron Hainsey would be a good young offensive defenseman to add and would certainly not be as expensive as some of the higher tier defensemen.
At the forward position, the only real question mark is what will happen with Radim Vrbata. Maloney is still talking with his agent but Maloney has admitted Vrbata will test the free agent market. It would be nice to see Maloney bring this kid back. He had a good year but I don't think he liked how the season ended when he went into a huge slump. Him coming back will really give more scoring options for Gretzky to test. The other issue the Coyotes need to address is the penalty kill. Two Dallas players, Niklas Hagman and Anti Miettinen, would both be very good for the penalty kill which has definitely seen better days in the desert. Pascal Dupuis would be another option.
What will Phoenix do? I see 2 defensemen coming to Phoenix. The 2 guys I see are Ron Hainsey and Jason Smith. But if Smith goes elsewhere, don't count out Bryce Salvador. There will be 1 forward signing but not until after the 2 defensemen are signed considering the Coyotes are looking to stay in the lower end of the cap. Who that would be is a checking forward to help the penalty kill. Jay Pandolfo anyone? PLEASE COMMENT!
I will put up at least one more post today talking about what I plan to do tomorrow since it will be insane.