As the Phoenix Coyotes head into a new season, the team is facing a lot of questions.
How will the goaltending situation fare after the departure of Ilya Bryzgalov? Is the first line made of veterans the best option? Who can help captain Shane Doan lead the team into a (hopefully) great season?
The Coyotes may not know a lot, but they can rest assured that one thing is for sure: they have a great assistant captain on their roster
Lauri Korpikoski is the kind of player the team needs — a workhorse who is not afraid to use his speed to carry the puck and skill to maneuver around opposing players. He would make a damn fine leader with an “A” on his sweater.
In effect, Korpi, as he’s known around here, is a one-man offensive threat who only needs to develop a scoring touch to be among the likes of Pavel Datsyuk.
In an interview with XM Radio, Coyotes General manager Don Maloney said a concern with Finnish players is a focus on perfection, something Korpikoski shed last season.
“Last year, he was able to let loose and really just play, in a sense of drive the net, shoot the puck, if I turn the puck over I turn it over and I get back and it all came together for him,” Maloney said of Korpi’s break-out season last year in which he tallied 40 points.
Korpikoski has been one of the top players in training camp and his versatility is a huge bonus, Maloney said. He is currently playing in the center position.
The Coyotes should look to Korpi, along with Shane Doan, to lead their offense this year. Korpi could benefit from Doaner’s veteran teachings and combine those with his own play to create a formidable player who forces a team to deal with him and, who knows, he may just turn into a great assistant captain along the way.