As we await the beginning of the new NHL season, I’ll be previewing each of the players in the Minnesota Wild system who will be on the roster, or competing for a place this year. My subject for this edition is Charlie Coyle.
The last two seasons have been fairly tumultuous for Charlie Coyle. After leaving Boston College mid-way through the 11-12 season to join the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QJMHL, he was named MVP of the playoffs as they won the Presidents Cup. This year he made his professional debut for the Houston Aeros in the AHL while the NHL was locked-out, before getting his first NHL call-up early in the season. He spent most of the year as the RW on the Parise/Koivu line, with a short stint on the 3rd line at the end of the regular season.
With his large frame, strength on the puck and competitive play, Coyle showed the Wild brass that he could develop into the mythical “power forward” that they have been seeking for a while. He stuck on the top line for so long because his hard-working style of play was very similar to that of Koivu and Parise, thus they fit together extremely well. He got a taste of playoff hockey, playing 5 games against the Chicago Blackhawks, notching 2 assists and not looking at all out-of-place against a very good team.
Here are some of his regular season numbers from last year:
|SHOOTING %/SHOTS ATTEMPTED||16/50|
At a glance, 14 points seems a little bit low for a guy who spent most of the year with the team’s 2 best forwards, but the reason for this becomes apparent when you see that he only had 50 shots on goal all year. Jason Pominville only played 10 games and managed to notched 25, so Coyle needs to work on getting more chances on goal next year. Obviously he went through an “adjustment period” that generally comes with a player’s rookie season, so I expect he will hit the ground running next year.
His role on the top line was to put his body about around the crease, be a nuisance to the other team’s defence, and also to gain possession of the puck behind the net and control it. Perhaps if he is put on a different line next year, his role will change and he will become the offensive focus of that line.
An interesting tidbit I learned in my research was that Coyle had the lowest average distance for his saved and missed shots among Wild forwards, with an average distance of 25.8.
He had a fairly small role on special teams all year. Mike Yeo seemed reluctant to use him on the powerplay at times last year, which often left Wild fans scratching their heads. Also, worth noting, his rate for drawing penalties is very impressive.
Here are his underlying numbers from last year:
|OFFENSIVE ZONE START %||64.6%|
|OFFENSIVE ZONE FINISH %||50.3%|
|QUALITY OF COMPETITION||0.784|
|SHOTS FOR/20 MINS||9.897|
|GOALS FOR/20 MINS||0.692|
|SHOTS AGAINST/20 MINS||7.657|
|GOALS AGAINST/20 MINS||0.652|
|5v5 1st ASSIST/60||0.611|
Coyle’s advanced stats are extremely impressive. He, along with Parise and Koivu, took on tough competition and thrived, logging very positive Corsi numbers. He showed an ability to drive possession whenever he took to the ice all season long. It’s no coincidence that his demotion to the 3rd line after the Pominville trade kicked that line into gear immediately.
His sub-1000 PDO suggests he suffered from some amount of poor luck. The Wild generated close to 10 shots on goal while only allowing 7.657 per 20 minutes of ice time for Coyle, showing his effectiveness at driving the play.
This player usage chart shows that Coyle’s numbers were very similar to Koivu and Parise, but he took-on slightly tougher compeition with a slightly higher percentage of offensive zone starts:
(Click To Enlarge) (Bubble Size=Corsi On Rating. Blue Bubble=Postive. Red Bubble=Negative)
Coyle’s debut season was extremely promising. He had no problems adjusting to NHL hockey, he showed flashes of the skills that have him ranked as one of the top forward prospects in the league and he showed that he wasn’t just a passenger on the Koivu/Parise line as he succeeded away from them too.
The speculation at this point is that Jason Pominville will take over as RW on the 1st line to start the season, with Coyle either swapping to his natural centre position on the 2nd line, or, if the brass feel Mikael Granlund is ready for that role, playing RW on the 2nd. Personally I feel like the Wild should keep Coyle on the 1st line so that they aren’t too top-heavy with the 3 best forwards all on the same line. If the Wild do go with this configuration, a positive is that the 1st line will likely play very tough minutes and therefore allow Coyle and his linemates to attack the opposition’s soft underbelly, so to speak.
I quite like the idea of Coyle at centre, as it’s his natural position and he has the large frame to be a physical force all over the ice. But, I think it’s important for Granlund to get a shot at developing at centre, as he is still the team’s marquee prospect. A possible configuration could be to have Coyle as the 3C, with Kyle Brodziak playing 4C (a position that needs a better player than Zenon Konopka or Jake Dowell, in my opinion) and lots of special teams minutes.
Wherever he ends up playing, I’m confident that he will continue to grow as a player and start to find some rewards for his great puck possession numbers in the form of goals and assists. More time on the 1st powerplay unit this year would help his production, and his large frame could be a disruptive force in the opposition crease as he looks to obscure the goaltender’s view and re-direct shots from the point.
Something he needs to be watchful of this year is getting into trouble with Brendan Shanahan and the Department Of Player Safety. He had 2 questionable hits last year, on Matt Stajan and Artem Ansimov respectively, neither of which he was suspended for. Neither deserved a suspension either, but he needs to make sure he doesn’t cross that line and miss anytime with a suspension this year. He is expected to be a gritty and tough presence for the team, but he needs to do this without breaking the rules.
His Season Is A Success If…
His Season Is A Disappointment If…
….his possession stats drop-off and he can’t make any strides in his development after a great rookie year. If he gets himself into disciplinary trouble.
Okay, that’s it for Chuck Coyle. Next, I’ll be taking a look at Ryan Suter and previewing his 2013/2014 campaign.
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*Numbers in this article courtesy of: