Tag: Dave Tippett

Sam Gagner

Gagner looking for fresh start in Arizona


After being traded twice on the same day in June, center Sam Gagner is hoping to put his struggles in Edmonton behind him with a fresh start in Arizona.

Gagner was dealt from the Oilers to the Lightning and then to Arizona in the span of an hour on June 29.

“Obviously the last couple years in Edmonton haven’t been great, so I’m excited for a fresh start,” Gagner told NHL.com.  “I’m at that phase of my career where I need to take a step forward, and I feel like Arizona is the place to do that.”

In 481 games with Edmonton, the 25-year-old scored 101 goals and 295 points over seven seasons.

Originally a first-round pick of the Oilers (6th overall in 2007), Gagner never materialized into the point-producing forward he was projected as after averaging more than two points per-game with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Ontario native matched a career-low with 10 goals in 2013-14 while battling with a broken jaw suffered in the preseason.

Gagner’s not the only one hoping a change of scenery will do him well.

Coyotes head coach, Dave Tippett feels more minutes will help Gagner flourish.

“If you look at Gagner in Edmonton, they have some top, top talent with guys like (Ryan) Nugent-Hopkins, (Taylor) Hall, (Jordan) Eberle,” Tippett said. “So we hope that Sam can get some of those key minutes that those players got in Edmonton that will allow him to flourish here.

“It’s always a calculated risk, and we hope the change of scenery will do Sam good.”

NHL.com’s Corey Masisak projects Gagner could move from his natural center position to the wing if rookie centers Max Domi or Henrik Samuelsson are ready for the NHL. As Masisak points out, Gagner’s faceoff numbers are not strong and his defensive game has struggled at times, Gagner was a minus-29  last season.

With the departure of Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro, Gagner will be counted on to contribute in Arizona.

“I’m really excited for it, I think they play a solid two-way game and compete really hard,” Gagner said. “I enjoy playing that way, I think it’s really important to be competitive and work hard on and off the ice. I think it really fits well, and it’s just a matter of making the most of it.”

Related: How will Arizona replace the offence lost this summer?

Coyotes deciding between rookies Domi and Lessio

Max Domi

The Phoenix Coyotes have a pair of young forwards they really like. They’re also having a hard time deciding who stays with the big club as well.

2013 first-round pick Max Domi and 2011 second-round pick Lucas Lessio are competing for the last forward spot with the team and as GM Don Maloney puts it, their decision is going to be tough to make. Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona has the story and it sounds like Lessio has the lead on Domi.

“From Day 1 in camp, Lucas has willed himself onto our roster with hard work,” Maloney said. “We’ve been waiting to see a drop-off and we haven’t seen one, so he’s probably the most pleasant surprise in camp.”

Maloney says Lessio could play on any of the four lines while Domi would have to be on one of the top two scoring lines to fit in best. That turns into a dilemma as to what coach Dave Tippett needs more of: Goals or all-around play.

Domi making the jump right into the NHL would be a surprise as he’s got the option to head back to juniors. While he could get a nine-game look, after seeing how things went with Kyle Turris in the past, they may not want to do that again.

Poll: Is Barry Trotz an elite coach in the NHL?

Barry Trotz

If there’s anyone who’s been a mainstay in their job in the NHL it’s Predators coach Barry Trotz.

Since the team began operations in 1998, Trotz has been the man behind the bench. That’s 14 seasons and never once has he been threatened to be dismissed.  After Lindy Ruff was fired by the Buffalo Sabres, Trotz became the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.

With that in mind, here’s a question to ponder:  Is Barry Trotz an elite NHL coach?

Think of the guys around the league you might consider for that label: Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Dave Tippett, Claude Julien. All except Tippett have won a Stanley Cup but he hasn’t had the luxury of steady ownership. Trotz too has been running a team that’s had financial restrictions of a different kind.

GM David Poile has only recently spent big bucks and that was to match the Flyers’ offer sheet for captain Shea Weber. His monster deal aside, anyone that’s come to Nashville has done so with a modest contract and without superstar talent.

Yet still over those 14 seasons, the Predators have made the playoffs seven times. It wasn’t until their sixth season in the league that they made the postseason the first time, but since then they’ve only missed out twice. That kind of success says he’s doing something right.

There are some things working against him. Nashville has never won a division title. It wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that they finally escaped the first round of the playoffs. Last season saw them wind up the fourth-worst team in the league and their worst win percentage since 2001-02.

Does longevity mean being an elite coach though? That’s the debate here. Let us know what you think in our poll.