ARIZONA COYOTES

Langkow trade good for Doan, bad for Coyotes

Aug 30, 2011, 2:53 AM | Updated: 4:09 am

When the Phoenix Coyotes swapped forward Lee Stempniak for center Daymond Langkow, captain Shane Doan had a big smile on his face.

I’m not smiling.

Now, I’m a confessed Doan fan – his sweater is hanging in my closet – but I think this trade puts the Coyotes attack at risk.

Stempniak was a good third line forward. He’ll never be great, but he’s good. The kind of guy you want on a third line who puts in the work and can sometimes change a game.

He was streaky, which was why he fell below Doan and Radim Vrbata on the depth chart, but streaky can be good. From time to time, Stempniak would disappear on the ice and string together a couple bad shifts. But he had the potential to affect a game out of the blue, sometimes offering a key pass or backhander that would catch the goalie off guard.

Langkow? Not so much.

Not only did he have a nearly career-ending neck injury, but he only logged four games last season. In an interview with PhoenixCoyotes.com, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said his injury is the only concern that he had bringing Langkow back to the desert, but I’m not buying it.

While the injury is a huge risk, Maloney commented that Langkow can play specialty teams, is good on the face-off and is responsible in the center of the ice as he works both ways, he sounds like a poor man’s replacement for former assistant captain Vernon Fiddler, known for his workhorse style of play. An older veteran who may go out injured does not replace a guy a team without an owner was likely forced to let go.

Stemp’s absence — possibly a result of wanting a bigger role — opens up some opportunity for youngsters Mikkel Boedker, Viktor Tikhonov and Brett MacLean, Maloney said.

Boedker was impressive last season, especially when showing off his speed and desire to play physical despite his smaller stature.

Tikhonov, fresh out of the Russian KHL, has a lot to prove after a less-than-mediocre 2008-2009 season, his only one played in the NHL.

MacLean could prove to be a good player in time, with his speed and good eye for the developing play, but looked completely outclassed when facing some of the top NHL veterans on the Detroit Red Wings, who decimated the Coyotes in the playoffs last season.

While Langkow would pair well with Doan and, possibly, Lauri Korpikoski, the loss of Stempniak on the third line is going to affect the Coyotes’ third line this season. And that’s a bad move, no matter who is happy to see an old friend.

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