Forward prospect Max Domi, son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi, will be given a shot to make the team out of training camp after being selected with the 12th overall pick at this past summer's draft. Unlike his father, Domi concentrates more on scoring than throwing fists and he could make himself useful on a Phoenix club that is always looking to add offense.
In other news, Coyotes tough guy Paul Bissonnette will miss the first 10 games of the season after being suspended for leaving the bench to stick up for his teammate Rostislav Klesla during a preseason game earlier this month.
DEFENSE - The Coyotes were ranked 15th in the NHL with 2.60 goals allowed per game last season, but this loaded defense does more than simply trying to stop the opposition from scoring.
Phoenix had two defenseman rank in the top-five in team scoring in 2013, including Keith Yandle, who posted a team-high 30 points (10G, 20A) while playing in all 48 games.
Dangerous as he is, Yandle isn't even considered to be Phoenix's best offensive talent on the blue line, a distinction that belongs to 22-year-old Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has managed to improve with every passing year.
Last season, Ekman-Larsson notched 24 points (3g, 21A) from the blue line, but he is a threat to score double-digit goals over the course of a full season. He had 13 markers in 2011-12 and could return to that scoring pace in 2013-14.
Yandle normally is paired with Derek Morris, while Ekman-Larsson primarily skates alongside Zbynek Michalek, giving both offensive-minded blueliners a steady anchor. Morris had 11 assists in 39 games last season, while Michalek recorded two helpers in 34 outings.
Klesla was scheduled to be the fifth defensemen in the rotation, but he suffered a concussion in preseason when Jordan Nolan of Los Angeles hit him with a crushing check, a hit that Bissonnette was less than pleased with. If the head injury lingers deep into the season it could cause problems for the club's defensive depth.
David Rundblad, David Schlemko and Michael Stone are battling for the sixth spot, but two of those players could see action in the early going depending on Klesla's availability.
GOALTENDING - After turning in a stellar first season in the desert in 2011-12, Smith battled injuries and inconsistency last season during a disappointing campaign.
Still, the Coyotes showed their faith in the 31-year-old this summer, agreeing to a six-year, $34 million with the goaltender.
Smith went 38-18-10 with a 2.21 goals against average in 2011-12, while also recording a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts. His hot play stretched into the playoffs, where Smith posted a 1.99 GAA to help get the Coyotes to the Western Conference finals.
However, Smith played in only 34 games in 2013 and went 15-12-5 with a 2.58 GAA, as he fell way short of the expectations set by his amazing first year in Phoenix. A return to that form in 2013-14 would be a huge step in getting this club back to the postseason.
Smith will get a new backup this season, as Maloney brought in former San Jose Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss on a one-year, $750,000 contract. Greiss, a former third-round pick by the Sharks, is 17-16-3 with a 2.52 GAA in 44 career games and was 1-4-0 with a 2.53 GAA in 2013.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE - The Coyotes never had a scary group of forwards when it made three straight trips to the playoffs under Tippett and the lack of scoring depth isn't a guarantee to derail the team's postseason chances this season. It does seem unlikely Phoenix will be able to secure one of the Pacific's three automatic bids to the postseason, but Tippett's boys should be in the thick of the race for one of the West's two wild card spots. Smith appears to be the X-factor in the equation, as a rebound season from the goaltender could be key to getting Phoenix back in the postseason.