The Phoenix Coyotes wrap up the preseason this Saturday and will have to reduce their current roster down to the mandated 23 players shortly thereafter.
Forward Kyle Chipchura deserves to be on that final roster.
While I haven't had the pleasure of seeing him skate so far this preseason, I've read several articles on him and listened to some audio and I like what my eyes and ears are telling me.
Not only did he stand-up with San Jose Sharks' young-blood Cameron MacIntyre and take a major for fighting, but his hustle is apparent and understanding of the game is there. Having already logged well over 100 NHL games, Chipchura thinks like a vet, but skates like a kid.
Plus, it would be fun to yell his name.
He won't feature on the top lines, nor should he. Despite being a first-round pick, Chipchura is a workhorse center who is not known for posting big numbers. However, the 25-year-old understands his role.
"I think for a guy like myself, who plays in a lower-line role, it works out pretty well," Chipchura said in an interview with PhoenixCoyotes.com.
I want to see Chipchura on the fourth line. With Kyle Turris still a hold-out with his ridiculous contract demands, there is a hole there. Prospect Andy Miele is also an option, but head coach Dave Tippet is generally a veteran-first guy.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Petteri Nokelainen are options as well, but I prefer Chipchura's experience and skating type. I'm a fan of Patrick O'Sullivan, but a big fourth line center who can hit is tempting, compared to a skill player like O'Sullivan. Put two young boys on the wings, like Mikkel Boedker and Viktor Tikhonov and that's a solid fourth line.
The Coyotes are expected to make cuts after their two-game trip to Canada, so it will be a few days of waiting for everyone involved, but I would like to see Chipchura hit the ice on Saturday night at home as a member of the 2011-2010 Coyotes.