Charlie Coyle was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Brent Burns deal and has looked like an amazing piece of the trade. He is currently sixth in ice time amongst Wild forwards and has a respectable 3 goals and 2 assists in 17 games.
During his days in Boston University, I saw a potential 2nd/3rd line forward; a sort of offensive version of Kyle Brodziak. He is a powerforward that strives near the boards and behind the net. He likes to grind it out and use his large size and strong skating to battle past defenders. This makes him a very useful piece with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu.
But when he left Boston University to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, his offensive game exploded. His debut in the AHL was not explosive but was a very solid showing that impressed the Wild brass enough to call him up to the Wild.
But is Coyle really a potential first line winger or is he just a temporary stop gap?
#63 / Center / Minnesota Wild
Mar 02, 1992
|2012 - Charlie Coyle||3||2||5||1||9|
Of course he is!
Coyle seems to grow more confident and comfortable in his role as the season progresses. With more confidence comes more more responsibility. But Coyle continues to run away with it.
And there are some moments where Coyle simply dominates. Exhibit A: the bulldozer!
Charlie Coyle's monster shift (via MegalodonBOC)
One man falls down, another man falls down, third can't budge him and then almost falls down. What makes this an even sweeter play is that its against the Canucks.
While this is only one play, Coyle is showing more consistency with his board play and is becoming a very productive winger, even if it doesn't show directly on the scoresheet.
And you want to know the beauty of it all? Coyle is listed only at 205lbs at 6-2. Coyle should be hitting 215lbs considering his style of play and large frame. If he can show flashes of being a dominant wall of a player at age 21, imagine him in 2 years time with more NHL experience and more summer offseason trainings under his belt.
Just A Stop Gap
While Coyle is a talented prospect that show flashes of dominance, he lacks ability to finish off his plays, which is a prerequisite for any top line forward. Not only do top line forwards need to start the play, they need the ability to come away with the puck and make a play that creates a scoring chance. Coyle has been inconsistent in that department.
But some may ask "isn't him playing alongside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu enough evidence?"
Not necessarily. Parise and Koivu play a power and grind sort of game. They attack the zone with energy, excel at battling for the puck along the boards, and really drive their way through to the net. Coyle is the only player on the Wild roster that compliments this style nicely.
Dany Heatley did start off the season with the duo but his skating was obviously not up to par. Pierre-Marc Bouchard just don't have the physical tools to keep up. Mikael Granlund is still struggling with the physical rigors of the NHL game. So you see, the options are limited. That was the reason why Coyle was initially recalled in favor of Jason Zucker earlier in the season.
If Coyle wasn't paired up with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, it could be argued that he has no place on the roster and is better served getting top line minutes in Houston.
So are the dominant flashes signs of things to come, or simply just flashes and nothing more? It is hard to predict when it comes to 21-year old powerforwards that still need to fill out.
If my initial thoughts of him during his Boston University days holds up, he still looks to be a very solid NHLer. Coyle is a low risk/high reward type of prospect. If he doesn't turn out to be a top line forward, it is very reassuring to know that Coyle still has strong skating and physical tools to become a strong 2nd/3rd line versatile forward. But which is the real Charlie Coyle?
The Wild are currently the top team in the Northwest Division and it features Coyle as a regular winger with the Parise-Koivu duo. There isn't possibly a better way to impress the Wild management than to look confident and productive on the top line of a winning team, and that is exactly what the young Charlie Coyle is doing.