Mike Yeo said he'd never put a ceiling on a player, especially one with the physical tools of a Charlie Coyle, but four years into his NHL career, the jury's still out as to exactly what type of player Coyle will mature into.
At 6-3 and 221 pounds with the ability to skate and versatility to play on any line at any position, will Coyle emerge into one of hockey's top power forwards or will he keep folks starving for more?
Right now, the 23-year-old is a flirt.
He can be so physically dominant some nights. In recent games, he has been so hard to contain, he has drawn three penalties that resulted in three power-play goals.
Fans ooh and ah when he pulls off lavish moves with a toe drag or a dipsy-doodle that makes a defenseman — or group of defenders — look foolish. But when it comes to actually scoring, the goals and assists still have not piled up for Coyle.
The move's beautiful. The finish is not.
"I've got to know I'm not a rookie anymore. I've got a few years under my belt here, and I can't wait for something to happen," Coyle said. "You put in the work, add the confidence boost to it and bring it every night. It's a work in progress. You've got to build to it.
"I've had a couple good games under my belt, but I can't be satisfied with one good move and just a shot. Finish it. Go hound the puck and just want the puck. It's all confidence. I'm slowly getting it."
It's largely confidence with Coyle. He's probably too much of a thinker, and as positive as he tries to be, he is hard on himself when things aren't going well.
"It takes a toll on you," Coyle said. "It just comes with confidence. I have to be consistent with my confidence. It's usually all in your head."
Truth be told, Yeo has been happy with Coyle's game all season, and especially the past three weeks, even though he has two goals in the past 21 games. Yeo trusts Coyle in every situation, loves him at center but often uses him as a means to jump-start others by slotting him up and down the lineup at center or wing.
Coyle is in the first year of a five-year, $16 million contract signed during the first month of last season. The Wild took a leap of faith based on potential, not what he had accomplished to that point.
"Charlie's size, overall skill set and character give him a chance to emerge as a top power forward in the game," GM Chuck Fletcher said at the time.
"It's just the tip of the iceberg with the guy right now," assistant GM Brent Flahr said at the time.
At the time of his extension, Coyle was coming off a 12-goal, 30-point, 70-game sophomore season and especially impressed during the final 10 regular-season games of 2013-14 and a postseason in which he played a large chunk with two separated shoulders.
But last season, his points per game of .42 stayed exactly the same (35 points in 82 games) and he scored one fewer goal. This season, his points per game is up to .45, ranking ninth on the team with 14 points (six goals) in 31 games.
"When you see a player with the skill set he has doing some of the things that he's doing, it gives you a lot of optimism about potential and growth," Yeo said. "What I like is there's been growth in his game every year. Statistically, there hasn't been huge growth there, but you look at the way he's playing the center position right now, you can throw him out there against any player, he's very responsible, is real strong in a defensive role and now he's starting to add on to the offensive part of it.
"You want to develop players that are good on both sides of the puck, and he's doing that."
When Coyle feels he has had a good game, it's usually when he has a lot of puck possession below the offensive goal line. He's moving his feet, bouncing off defenders, hanging on to the puck.
"When I play center and I know Mike had seen it, too, sometimes I play more safe than when I'm playing wing," Coyle said. "I'm always the third guy high and almost get into safe mode. I've tried to get away from that. If I'm the first guy in, just stay in there and know my other two wingers are backing me up. I've tried to put that in my head and get right in there.
"But I need to start finishing. And I need to stay confident. Like if I lose a faceoff, I can't just shut it down for the whole shift just because I lost a faceoff. These are the little things that I'm trying to get better at."