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.”

 

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.