The Phoenix Coyotes were quite the underdog (pardon the pun) last postseason. However, the team, led by Shane Doan and Ray Whitney, won the Pacific Division title and even made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Fast forward two months through the off-season, and things look much different, especially at the top: Ray has signed elsewhere, and Shane may or may not return, and the two of them produced 46 of the 216 goals or one-fifth of the goals (21%) scored last season.
While Steve Sullivan was signed to replace part of what Ray brought, the team will still be short offensively and will look to scoring by committee and strong defensive play in front of Mike Smith to compete night in and night out, since the team is owned by the NHL and will have to find value players.
The Coyotes' current group of forwards looks like this
(players in bold scored at higher pace than May Ray's (0.36 p.p.g.) last season)
Boedker - Hanzal - Vrbata
*Sullivan - Vermette - Korpikoski
Torres - Gordon - Moss
Klinkhammer - Chipchura - Bissonnette
Sullivan has a * next to his name since his stats, let's be honest here, were boosted by playing with Art Ross winner Evgeni Malkin.
With the dire shortage of higher-end scorers, complemented by the team's ownership issues and subsequent inability to spend like the big ticket markets in the league, a healthy, motivated, talented player fighting for their job could be exactly the piece that spurs the offense along for the time being. Enter Mason Raymond.
While fans here have gotten used to high-octane offense and being contenders year after year, the Coyotes organization will not have the flexibility to go out and get big-ticket guys. Instead, they will have to rely upon role players who fit within Tippett's tight defensive system with the versatility to break out when the chance arises to score on the other end of the ice.
With his record of being a scorer and tight checker, followed by his sub-par past couple of seasons and re-signing to a one-year contract basically as a signal to fight for his job, May Ray could be motivated to stay in Vancouver, but even if he does not pan out here, he could prove to be a strong, young complementary piece who could take up some of the scoring responsibility in Phoenix and really augment the depth that's already there.
Both sides could really benefit here. Mason, with strong play could earn a Top-6 role and new contract, and Phoenix can strengthen their offense with a young, MOTIVATED player with potential and past success as a Top-6 player.
(Vancouver may do this so to clear up salary spots in case management feels another prospect or player is ready for the minutes; maybe Mason Raymond for a 2nd pick or D prospect, which Phoenix has plenty? EDIT: as someone mentioned in their post, Raymond for Torres would work for me if Phoenix accepts the deal too, Vancouver could get more physical for the playoffs)
Edited by MessiNacity10, 14 August 2012 - 11:23 PM.