The overlooked and underpriced have been the most popular imports by the Coyotes amid shrinking budgets and rising uncertainty. So it’s been entirely appropriate to have coach Dave Tippett implement a style that relies on and even rewards the shot blockers, the faceoff specialists and the trap enthusiasts. When this operation was at its best — during month-long point streaks and playoff upsets — it almost seemed like adding bonafide skill would disrupt the process. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the operation wasn’t at its best this season. Hard work may beat talent, but hard work also needs talent. “The hard-working, grind-it-out style is what you have to have to win,” Tippett said. “Skill players can work hard and grind it out, also. You look at LA that won it last year. They’re a hard-working, grinding team, but they still have skill. “That’s what you’re trying to build. You’re trying to build a team that can do all the things you want them to do. But to win, you have to have that little extra bit of skill.” Tippett might not be the one coaching this philosophy to the Coyotes in the fall as his future is just as uncertain as the team’s, but it’s still a smart approach the Coyotes should keep. Offensive talent has been at the top of the off-season shopping list before, but maybe the front office will attack that priority with more urgency after a sputtering season ended with the Coyotes 21st in goals scored and 25th on the power play. “We know there are things we have to do to get better,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “We have to find quite frankly more help up front. I look at our team; our defense is strong. We have strong depth there. Certainly our goaltending is a little bit of a question right now in regards to signing people, but from a depth perspective it looks good. “Up front, we have work to do.” The team’s amateur and pro scouts will descend on the Valley this week as the Coyotes prepare for the draft and start combing the free-agent market. Washington center Mike Ribeiro had success under Tippett in Dallas. Montreal winger Michael Ryder is a consistent goal scorer. Based on age and production, Boston winger Nathan Horton will likely be the most sought-after forward.
Phoenix Coyotes brass says team needs talent upgrade
Arizona Republic | May 6