Don Maloney

Coyotes got ‘complacent’ with ‘people being here too long,’ says GM

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Some pretty interesting stuff coming out of the desert with regards to the future of the Phoenix Coyotes, per the Arizona Republic:

What everyone seems to agree on is that the chemistry of the group needs some tweaking. Besides internal options and free agency, the Coyotes are also open to executing trades — and the targets may be players 23 to 25 years old who complement enthusiasm with experience.

“We have to look at our group and say we need more energy,” [GM Don] Maloney said. “We need more hunger into our group, and maybe we got a little complacent with people being here too long.”

The longest-serving Coyote is captain Shane Doan, but his standing within the organization is about as good as it gets. Maloney also acknowledged Doan’s struggles this year stemmed from issues with conditioning after missing 12 games to Rocky Mountain fever.

So…who else has been in Phoenix too long? A look at some of the other long-serving players:

Radim Vrbata

The Czech sniper scored 27 goals with the Coyotes in 2007-08, then left to sign in Tampa Bay, then left Tampa Bay to play in the Czech Republic, then returned to Phoenix in 2009-10…and has been in the desert ever since. He had a down year in 2013-14, scoring just 20 goals and 51 points while being left off the Czech Olympic team. Vrbata’s a UFA this summer and one wonders if he’ll be back with the ‘Yotes.

Keith Yandle

He’s spent his entire eight-year career in Phoenix but has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the last two. A talented offensive defenseman that’s had his defensive abilities called into question, Yandle’s stats this season reflected that narrative: 52 points in 82 games, with a minus-23 rating (yes, yes, we all know the flaws of the plus-minus statistic.)

Yandle has two years left on his five-year, $26.25 million deal, one that carries an annual cap hit of $5.25 million.

Derek Morris

Has served two lengthy stints in Phoenix — the first from 2003-09, the second from 2010-14. Morris was a healthy scratch late in the season, turns 36 in August and is a pending UFA. Feels like the writing’s on the wall here.

Though he’s not a long-serving Coyote, one figures the future of Mike Ribeiro will be discussed this offseason as well. The veteran center was a disappointment during his first year in Phoenix, a development compounded by the fact he was the club’s big free-agent splash last summer, signing a four-year, $22 million deal.

Ribeiro was also a healthy scratch late in the season, and Maloney acknowledged the struggles.

“I don’t want to stand up here and point the finger at Mike Ribeiro,” Maloney explained. “If he’s standing up here, he’s saying the same thing. He’s disappointed in himself and in his performance. You’d think that a guy of his age or Shane Doan’s age or Derek Morris’ age would be confident. But, their confidence goes in ebbs and flows.

“I think Mike got down on himself and in his play. He got in a rut and couldn’t get out of it.”

 

Under Bednar, Avs won’t ‘slow the game down’ like they did with Roy

Nathan MacKinnon
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Though it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout from the high-flying North American team at the World Cup, speedy Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon was certainly in the conversation.

Now, MacKinnon wants that tournament success to translate over to the regular season — and he’s confident Colorado’s coaching change will make it happen.

From the Denver Post:

Is [Jared] Bednar’s system different from what the Avalanche did under Patrick Roy?

“Yeah, it is,” MacKinnon said. “Now every puck we get, we want to move it up quickly and use our speed and not wait and go D-to-D, back to D and slow the game down.

“We have very good skaters on our team, and we want to use that.”

One of the blueliners responsible for moving the puck quickly, Tyson Barrie, echoed those sentiments.

“There’s going to be no messing around with the puck, no playing around with it in our end, in the neutral zone,” Barrie said of Bednar’s system, per NHL.com. “We’re going to be pushing the pace, getting it into the forwards’ hands. We’re going to play fast and our defensemen are going to be jumping.

“I’m super impressed.”

Not utilizing Colorado’s speed was considered one of Roy’s major failings as head coach. With the likes of MacKinnon and Matt Duchene in the mix, it seemed like playing an uptempo game was the obvious choice — yet, as stated above, the Colorado blueliners were instructed to play more east-west than north-south.

That figures to change under Bednar.

In his previous stop, Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Bednar led a high-octane group that had no problem finding the back of the net. The Monsters led the American League in playoff scoring en route to the Calder Cup, and did it with a talented, versatile blueline that delivered pucks to the forwards.

(Bednar also had a glut of good, young talent at his disposal. Zach Werenski, the eight overall pick in 2015, anchored the blueline will the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano were up front.)

Needless to say, Colorado should be a fascinating team to watch this year.

Related: Keep an eye on the goaltending situation in Colorado

Pouliot’s goal is to become ‘full-time player’ for Penguins

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27: Derrick Pouliout #51 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on December 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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The eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, it’s fair to say that Derrick Pouliot has yet to reach his full potential. He’s only played 56 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins, stretched over two seasons. And compared to the rest of his draft class, that’s not very many NHL games.

Granted, it’s also fair to say that Pouliot’s still only 22, and defenseman are known to take longer to develop. This year, he says he’s come to camp in better shape, with the goal of staying with the Pens all season.

“That’s the goal. I know things can change pretty quick, but I’m confident with the shape I’m in and in my ability to play,” he said, per the Times Leader. “Hopefully I can make myself a full-time player here.”

Pouliot is still waivers-exempt, so he’ll need to earn his spot. The Penguins re-signed Justin Schultz for another year, and that could be his competition.

“We have high expectations for Derrick,” said head coach Mike Sullivan, per the Post-Gazette. “We’ve kept close tabs on him all summer long, and we knew he was coming into camp in the type of shape that he’s in. … He’s a very talented kid, and when he put those two things together, we think he’s going to improve another level.”

Report: Flames talking contract extension with Elliott

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends net against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2015 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Blues 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Calgary Flames are talking contract extension with their new goalie, Brian Elliott, according to St. Louis-based reporter Andy Strickland.

Elliott, 31, was acquired from the Blues at the draft in Buffalo. He has one year left on his current deal, at a cap hit of $2.5 million, before he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

No parameters of a potential deal were reported by Strickland, just that the two sides were talking. Elliott went 23-8-6 last season in St. Louis, with a .930 save percentage.

Flames GM Brad Treliving hinted at the draft that an extension could be in the cards.

“There’s no need to rush,” Treliving said, “but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

On July 1, the Flames signed Chad Johnson for one year to be the back-up. So currently, neither of Calgary’s two NHL goalies are signed past 2016-17.

Related: Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ of Flames

KHL announces Sobotka will play with Avangard this season

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues warms up before playing the Washington Capitals in an NHL game at the Verizon Center on November 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Big development on the Vladimir Sobotka-back-to-St. Louis front — on Tuesday, the KHL announced that Sobotka would play with Avangard Omsk next season, shooting down reports of his return to the Blues as “just rumors.”

Per Czech news outlet Ceska Televize, both Omsk’s team president and Sobotka’s agent confirmed the news.

This development comes after Sobotka’s stint with the Czech Republic at the World Cup. During the tournament, he addressed problems he was having with opting out of the last of his three-year deal with Omsk.

“We’re still talking and we’ll see what’s going to happen during the World Cup,” said Sobotka, per ESPN.com. “After that, I think we’re going to be smarter. It’s been going on for five months and I’ve had enough of it. It’s my agent’s job to to keep talking and we’ll see.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via the Associated Press that Sobotka was having “issues” returning to the Blues.

A good, versatile checking forward, Sobotka fled St. Louis after an arbitration hearing following the ’13-14 campaign. He scored a career-high 33 points in 61 games that season.

The Blues have been keen to get him back in the fold.

Ken Hitchcock, heading into his final season as head coach, has talked about the “great chemistry” between Sobotka and winger Jaden Schwartz, and there’s no doubt Hitchcock would’ve like to use that chemistry in what will be his final chance at a Stanley Cup.