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Fantasy Preview: Phoenix Coyotes

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Scott Cullen
9/17/2013 1:50:07 PM
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Given their trouble scoring goals in recent seasons, the Phoenix Coyotes aren't the first choice for fantasy players, but that allows for some potential value to be found.

Top Picks: He can unnoticed in the desert, but RW Radim Vrbata continues to excel for the Coyotes. His 47 goals in 111 games over the last two seasons has his goals-per-game rate (0.42) on par with the likes of Corey Perry and Ilya Kovalchuk. The bonus is that Vrbata shouldn't cost that kind of premium on draft day and he's a quality No. 2 right winger.

The best of Phoenix's fantasy contributors, not surprisingly, aren't forwards. D Keith Yandle has 173 points over the last four seasons, ranking third among defencemen, behind only Duncan Keith and Dan Boyle, and his overall game puts him on the fringe of being a No. 1 fantasy defenceman.

Rising star Oliver Ekman-Larsson may be a better "real" than fantasy defnceman, but 56 points over the last two seasons ranks 28th among defencemen and, as he ascends into Norris Trophy consideration, he's playing more than 25 minutes per game. He's well worth a spot as a No. 2 fantasy blueliner.

The wildcard for the Coyotes is G Mike Smith, whose save percentage dropped from .930 in 2011-2012 to .910 last season. Smith's career save percentage, in 263 games, is .913, so he's okay, but if he happens to be better than that while starting 65 games for the Coyotes, he's going to have premium fantasy value. His up-and-down history makes him an easier sell as a strong No. 2 instead of as the No. 1 your fantasy squad banks on.

Value Plays: There is value to the durability of RW Shane Doan, who has missed 28 games over the last 11 seasons, but he's a 36-year-old whose scoring rate is declining -- last year's 0.56 points per game was his lowest since 1998-1999 -- so he's still worth having in most formats, but as a No. 3 option on the right side.

Brought in to help jumpstart the Coyotes' offence, C Mike Ribeiro is a five-time 60-point scorer who put up 27 of his 49 points last year with the man advantage. Ribeiro, 33, is a productive player but, given younger and better options he, like Doan, fits best as a No. 3 for fantasy owners.

Sleepers/Breakthrough: 23-year-old LW Mikkel Boedker had somewhat of a breakthrough season last year, as his 26 points in 48 games (0.54 ppg) was the best scoring rate of his career. However, with a real opportunity to play top line minutes, his scoring numbers should increase, particularly with a rebound in his shooting percentage from a career-low 8.4% last year.

Towering C Martin Hanzal typically doesn't score enough to generate fantasy interest, having never scored more than 35 points in a season, but he's a big, physical presence with enough hits (339 in 103 games over the last two seasons) to generate interest in deep leagues when he's healthy.

Along the same lines, LW Rob Klinkhammer has value in deep leagues for the same reason. He's a 27-year-old who has played 38 career NHL games, but has 115 hits in those games and contributed 11 points in 22 games for the Coyotes last season.

Rookies: There aren't a lot of impact rookies in the Coyotes system, but C Max Domi, the 12th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, would only stick if he could play in a scoring role.

Domi doesn't have ideal size, but has slick hands and had a big year for London in the Ontario Hockey League, scoring 87 points in 64 regular season games, then adding 32 points in 21 playoff games.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Keith Yandle Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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