Some fans don’t necessarily think of the Coyotes as a big-time offensive team. After all, Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette were their goal-scoring leaders with 13 a piece.
GM Don Maloney wants to perhaps change that up a bit this season by opening up competition for everyone on their top two lines.
Tal Pinchevsky at NHL.com hears from Maloney about how he’s changed things up heading into training camp this year.
“We made a concerted effort to leave three open scoring spots available. Hopefully somebody will seize the opportunity and take it,” Maloney told NHL.com. “I really feel we have the third and fourth line covered. Where do we find a little more skill? Where do we find help on our power play? Where do we find help in the shootout? We’re not closing our minds to anything.”
Guys like Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata will get some offensive help from newly signed Mike Ribeiro. The playmaking center will be able to distribute the puck well. Finding finishers will be the trick.
Coach Dave Tippett hasn’t really been a guy to shake things up like crazy year-to-year, but perhaps with new ownership comes new plans to open things up for younger guys like Lucas Lessio, Chris Brown, Henrik Samuelsson, or even 2013 first-rounder Max Domi.
Mike Ribeiro signing with the Phoenix Coyotes may have caught some by surprise, but he had special motivation to head to the desert.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett knows Ribeiro well from their three seasons together in Dallas and for Ribeiro, he couldn’t wait to get back together with his old mentor as NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman shares.
“I think that was my No. 1 goal” he said. “To go somewhere knowing the coach and knowing a little bit of what they were looking for and what my role was going to be and being comfortable, and being able to communicate with the coach. He’s done a great job there in Phoenix. He knows what he can get from me and I know what he wants and I’m ready to work for that.”
Ribeiro had two of his biggest seasons as a pro under Tippett. In 2007-2008 he had 27 goals and 56 assists for a career-high 83 points. He followed that up with 78 points the next year.
While his production hasn’t been quite that high lately, if he can bring his deft touch in setting others up, the Coyotes will be more than happy to have it.
Now that the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings, the one question that comes up now regarding the summer is simple:
Where does Roberto Luongo go now?
There was no secret about Toronto’s desire for Luongo and the rumors persisted for the better part of a year that he could wind up there. Now with Toronto out of the picture (unless GM Dave Nonis decides to get really crazy), the field of teams that could go after the high-priced Canucks netminder is axed by one. Here are a few candidates:
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro isn’t the answer and Evgeni Nabokov is an elder statesman who looked weak in the playoffs. He’s also a free agent this summer. The Isles also have a disgruntled prospect who reportedly wants out in Nino Niederreiter who would make a great trade chip. The two teams have been linked before, so why not send Lu back to the Island?
Florida Panthers: Another former stomping ground for Luongo. He still lives there in the offseason and he even asked to be moved there last year. The Panthers’ incumbents next season are Scott Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom and the latter struggled last season but the Panthers were also terrible. Luongo with a young team poised to climb like Florida would be a heck of a coup.
Phoenix Coyotes: So say the team gets a new owner and they’ve got money to burn. Sure they might bring back free agent Mike Smith, but hey, why not Luongo? He’d thrive in Dave Tippett’s system and we’re sure he’d love life in the desert or Seattle. This is a total stab in the dark, but if the team did move to Seattle he’d provide a big name and a reasonably familiar face.
Philadelphia Flyers: Ha ha ha ha… No, I don’t think so. Besides, they’ve already got Ilya Bryzgalov’s monster contract they might buy out this summer.
Phoenix getting head coach Dave Tippett to commit to them for five more years yesterday was quite the coup for the franchise whose future is still up in the air. To get him to come back, they may have had to pay up in a big way.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports that Tippett’s five-year contract is worth $2 million per season and has a out clause after each season if he doesn’t like new ownership or relocation. If true, that’s the sort of deal you can command when you’re the coach who has, up until this point, saved hockey in the desert. That’s also the same kind of money Alain Vigneault is reportedly getting to coach the New York Rangers.
In four seasons as Coyotes head coach, Tippett is 156-96-42 and has led the team to the postseason in three of those years. To say he’s not worth that kind of cash would be wrong, but for a team that’s still having its financial decisions made by the league, it seems like a huge payout.
While the Coyotes are trying to get things figured out to stay in the desert, they’re at least making sure the people who run the team are in place.
The team announced the re-signing of assistant GM Brad Treliving to a multi-year contract. Treliving rejoins team GM Don Maloney as the guys in charge of figuring out how to re-shape the roster this summer.
With the front office guys taken care of, the next task they can (somewhat) control is getting coach Dave Tippett re-signed as well. Of course, the big hangup in doing that seems to be the ownership situation and it still might be a couple of weeks before we hear something closer to definitive on that.
Tippett’s contract with the team expires on July 1.