To kick off our Hello Neighbors series, LAKI took a quick glance at the realigned Pacific Division and how the new playoff format could impact teams destined for the cusp of the playoff bubble. Clearly, the Phoenix Coyotes are right there on that precipice.

A season after reaching the Western Conference Final, Phoenix did not make the playoffs in 2012-13 as they dealt with the departure of Ray Whitney and the mid-season foot fracture of Radim Vrbata, who scored 35 goals in red dark red maroon Sedona Red (!?) the season prior. Zbynek Michalek, Martin Hanzal, Steve Sullivan, Lauri Korpikoski and Mike Smith also missed time when the Coyotes would have been expected to make a playoff push, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the team dealt with inconsistency – not to mention abysmal special teams. Phoenix’s power play (14.8%) and penalty kill (79.9%) in 2012-13 both ranked last amongst the seven teams that now make up the realigned Pacific.

As a result, the Coyotes missed the playoffs for the first time under Dave Tippett, who for the first time in his head coaching career guided a team to below a third-place divisional finish.

But…things are looking up, perhaps? The Coyotes are no longer in a state of ownership limbo, which certainly doesn’t hurt the thrust of the team’s hockey operations. The team retains among the league’s most mobile blue lines with soon-to-be American Olympian (and frequent trade rumor magnet) Keith Yandle and blossoming phenom Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who signed a lucrative six-year extension in March. Mike Ribeiro was signed to a four-year contract, which solidifies the team down the middle and complements Martin Hanzal and faceoff artist Antoine Vermette with good center depth.

Mike Smith re-upped for six more years of tending net and providing dubious player safety verdicts.

On the downside, shutdown center Boyd Gordon signed with Edmonton, while Mikkel Boedker, who turns 24 in December, remains a restricted free agent after accounting for a career-high 26 points (7-19=26) over 48 games a season ago.

You know this team. They’re the Coyotes. You know the Coyotes well.

To break things down even further, we brought in FOXSportsArizona.com Coyotes beat writer Craig Morgan to provide additional insight. Morgan’s thorough reporting and balanced analysis during the club’s ownership transition represented some of the best hockey reporting undertaken throughout the summer. He’s an excellent follow on Twitter.


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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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