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October 3, 2013 | 10:35am ET
Coyle ready to step up for Wild
By David Brown, TheFourthPeriod.com

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- The Minnesota Wild traded away fan favorite Brent Burns in their own building during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to the San Jose Sharks for 30-goal scorer Devin Setoguchi, a first round draft pick and some kid named Charlie Coyle.

That 21-year old kid is the Wild's second line center this season.

Two years ago, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the trade in the Xcel Energy Center to thousands of Wild fans. The fans hoot and hollered for Setoguchi's name, went quiet when Coyle was announced and then cheered for the first round pick. Setoguchi's gone, the first round pick was Zach Phillips, who has yet to appear in a game for the Wild, and there's that some thing called "Coyle."

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher on the other hand knew what he was getting with Coyle on that draft day.

"There is no way this deal gets done if Charlie Coyle's not in it. We feel he's one of the top young power forwards in the game. He can play center, he can play wing, he can first line to third line. He adds a lot of versatility, a lot of size, a lot of character, tireless worker on the ice," Fletcher said after he made the trade.

Coyle was drafted the prior year 28th overall in 2010 draft by the Sharks and was coming off his freshman season at Boston University scoring 26 points in 37 games.

"He's coming off a strong season at BU and a very good performance at the World Junior Championship," Fletcher said about his new prospect. "I think that size and that versatility and that character is very, very important for our team as we continue to fill out our forward group."

In his first season as a Minnesota Wild prospect, Coyle left BU for the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.

"I never wanted to do that. I've said it before; leaving BU was the hardest thing I ever had to do," Coyle said. "I always wanted to play there and I was happy there; it was a dream school of mine."

The Sea Dogs were loaded. He joined, ironically, Phillips and future NHL Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau. Coyle scored 38 points in 23 games in the regular season for Saint John and then he took over the playoffs. He became the first American-born player to win the league's playoff MVP with 34 points -- 15 goals and 19 assists -- in only 17 games, carrying his team to a President's Cup title.

"People have their own paths to get where they want to be and obviously the NHL is where I wanted to be. It was the right move for me to play more games and get more games under my belt," Coyle said. "It was a huge step in my career."

Coyle joined the Houston Aeros during the NHL lockout and then didn't make the team once the lockout ended. The Wild eventually called Coyle up for a five-game stint, in which he recorded no points and was a minus-one. 11 days later, he was recalled again and may never look back.

Coyle scored his first career NHL goal in his first game back with the Wild against the Calgary Flames. He evolved into one of the team's most consistent forwards last season and scored 14 points -- eight goals and six assists -- in 32 games during his second call up as the first line right wing with captains Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise.

Coyle is not the first member of his family to play in the NHL. He has two cousins, Tony Amonte and Bobby Sheehan, whom both played in the league. Family means everything to him. He has a ton of support back home from his parents and two sisters.

"You're never on your own. You have people back home that love you and care about you," Coyle said. "I'm always sending them a text back and forth after a game. It's just nice to have a family back home that are with you along the way."

Coyle isn't always flashy, but when he's on the ice good things happen. Not many 21-year old players can play any position, on any line, powerplay and penalty kill, but Coyle did it.

"I just want to be careful because with a young kid, I don't want to sit here and heap too much praise on him, but I can't say anything negative about his camp," head coach Mike Yeo said of Coyle after a Wild pre-season victory. "He's been outstanding. The challenge for him is to keep it going."

This season, Coyle moves back to his natural position after winning the second line center job. In this year's preseason with his new job, Coyle scored four points -- three goals and one assist -- in five games.

"When you know this kid's personality, you know the way he trains, you know his motivation, I was pretty confident we wouldn't see that from him," Yeo said. "He's a consistent two-way player, plays well without the puck. He's had a great preseason. There's no reason to feel anything but real happy with the way that he's played."

Coyle will open his first season at center on a line with veteran Dany Heatley and 21-year-old Nino Niederreiter. His best game in the faceoff circle was against the Winnipeg Jets, when he won 80% of his draws, possibly the only weakness in his game right now.

"He was a horse," Yeo said. "Both ends of the rink, obviously scoring the goal but all over the ice; good to see him have a real strong game in the faceoff circle too, winning some big draws for us. His goal was a direct result of that, but all over the ice doing the little things right."

Coyle showed in the pre-season that he could play with any line mates and be successful, something he will go through this season as he no longer will be with Parise and Koivu every night.

"There were some question marks who was going to play that second line center job," Parise said. "He did a really good job of securing that spot. He works hard and he's responsible. He plays on both sides of the puck and knows the game. You want a center with good size in your defensive zone that can knock guys off the puck and he's that guy."

If pre-season means anything, Coyle appears to be locked and loaded for a big time season this year in Minnesota. His style of play can work against any opponent and all he does is win -- at every level.

"At a pretty early age he's accomplished a lot," Fletcher said. "You got to give him credit; he's played at a different level each of the last four seasons and he just continues to adapt, adjust and improve."

Coyle was nicknamed "Sir Charles" after his dominant playoff run in the President's Cup for the Sea Dogs. He said he doesn't want a nickname with that much hype.

"It makes me feel to high up and I don't like that," Coyle said. "I'm good with the little one's Chuck, Chuckie, Coyler and Chuckles."

Coyle might not have a choice on how much hype he gets this season if his game continues to flourish at this rapid pace. The nation will see Coyle in his new role with the Wild when they open their season against the Los Angeles Kings at home on Thursday night on NBC Sports.

David Brown is the Minnesota Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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