I don't agree with all of this, but I think this it's fair in that it offsets all the posts about the Coyotes improvement which ignored their losses.
Another poster mentioned the 'hole' left by Boynton's departure (I totally disagree he left a hole from a defensive standpoint, the only hole is what he brought physically/leadership). That said, I think if you take this 'hole' viewpoint it is a great way to assess improvement/deterioration:
Last year there was a blatant hole at the #1 Center position. This is easily proved as Joel Perrault spent more time than any other center on the #1 line (with Doan/Mueller). No holes on D with a legitimate #1, 3 legitimate top 4 dmen, and Boynton & Yandle/Jones as the 5-6 dmen. The bottom 9 forward spots was filled with 8 players who provided NHL-level value via either scoring, checking, or toughness (Vrbata, Hanzal, Carcillo, Tjarnqvist, Kapanen, Weller, Winnik, Rheinprecht) and there was one blatant hole (York).
Exit Vrbata, Tjarnqvist, Kapanen, Weller, (I don't understand why you would bother mentioning York, and I am one of the few who feel that he tried, and appreciate that he was a good teammate, even if he sucked).
Exit Weller, enter Todd Fedoruk - this is an upgrade as he will score more, and more proactively stand up for his teammates (even if he does lose a lot of fights). Unfortunately Weller was too passive (see Laracque) most of the time. Fedoruk also fills the physical hole left by Boynton's exodus.
Exit Kapanen, enter Enver Lisin - this is an upgrade - for those who don't know about Enver Lisin, you'll just have to find out next season.
Exit Tjarnqvist - I consider this a hole next season, as he was an incredible PK'er and his shot-blocking skills/fearlessness were reminiscent of Mike Ricci in his prime. That said, it's an extremely one-dimensional hole which will be offset by players like McGratton and one of the follwing wildcards: Kevin Porter/Boedker/Tikhonov. Assuming one of the latter take this spot & not McGratton, by seasons end, this is an upgrade
Exit Vrbata, enter Turris - This is a tough nut to crack....do you look at his scoring the first 3/4's of the season, or last 1/4 of the season. Was his success the result of getting 1st pp minutes. If so, will his goal scoring be replaced by Kyle Turris who will fill this role and slots exactly into his spot on the half-wall? I think Turris will turn in a season similar to Gagner's last year and plug this hole.
Exit Boynton, enter Sauer - I think the biggest oversight is people trying to plug Sauer into Ballard's role. I agree with other's that Ballard was not asked to provide offense, and that Sauer can fill the defensive role that Ballard did. However, to be fair I think you have to consider Sauer as Boynton's replacement...and an even swap, if not an upgrade.
Exit Ballard, enter hole...no, not David Hale, just a 'hole'.
In summary, they have filled a glaring hole (#1 center), and have created a significant hole (#3/4 dman with lots of valuable intangibles). I'd take this exchange any day. In addition, I think they have upgraded several positions, and they won't be wasting a spot by icing Mike York. Another oversight IMO is the value added by Carcillo with Fedoruk/McGratton allowing him to focus on scoring instead of fighting, along with a year of maturity to hopefully cut his misconducts in half. Also, I don't buy into any of the sophmore slump talk with Mueller or Hanzal, they are products of NHL style teams/coaches (Everrett-Constantine/Red Deer-Sutter). Lastly, Bryzgalov should improve his consistency with a year under the belt as the full-time starter.
I wouldn't say the Coyotes are the most improved, but I think they are the most improved relative to their spending, which was $0.
This is a better team on paper than any team in Coyote history. Better than Roenick, Tkachuk, Khabibulin, Teppo. That team had good character support, but ZERO youth.
They now have Jokinen, Doan, Jovo, Brygalov. Pre-season Calder candidate Turris. A poor-man's Teppo with Michalek. Great sophmores in Hanzal, Mueller, & Carcillo. Excellent character support with Morris, Rhino, Fedoruk, Winnik (& youth), and high-end prospects out the ying yang (Boedker, Tikhonov, Porter, Kolarik, MacLean).
I wish the season started tomorrow.
Losing Ballard without replacing him isn't leaving a hole at 3/4 defenceman, because that's not what he is. It's definately not the role he was playing last year. He and Morris played against the opposition's best players just about every night. Losing Ballard means everyone else has to move up and play against better players, not just the guys in the 5/6 spots. Sauer will help, but it still might mean Jovanovsky and Michalek go from being the #2 pair to being the #1. The only other option is to have Sauer and Morris as the top pair which definately makes him the replacement for Ballard.
If you are offended by this post, it's probably because you're ugly.
An argument could be made that Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, Smid, Gilbert, Grebeshkov have all imporved on account of experience, and that Souray and Horcoff should be improved because of health, but I don't want to get too far into that sort of thing. In all, I think they should be better in just about every area, though I do see a drop off in the 3rd line center spot from Stoll to Pouliot.
If you're a straight A student and now get A+ everywhere... you haven't improved as much as a D and F student who's now getting B's.
Well, the test scores haven't come back yet. However, I think you're using the wrong measurements to determine imporvement because your measurements have a maximum and a minimum (A+, 100%, etc.). Detroit won the President's Trophy and the Stanley Cup so by your metric, they can't improve at all. But to suggest that there's no way they could have a better team is rediculous. I'm sure if you looked at goal differential (goals for minus goals against) at the end of this year and compared it to how teams fared this past season, Detroit could very well end up as one of the most improved teams in the league ahead of other popular choices in this thread like Edmonton, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay.