Tag: Martin Erat

Don Maloney

Coyotes GM: We can’t ‘match up, No. 1 line to No. 1 line, with many teams in the West’


In a conference loaded with talent up front — especially at center — the Arizona Coyotes are behind the 8-ball.

Just ask their GM.

“We can’t sit here and say we match up, No. 1 line to No. 1 line, with many teams in the West,” Don Maloney told Fox Sports Arizona. “But maybe we can control the top lines and outperform the lower lines.

“With our goaltending, our blue line and our coaching, we’ll find a way to score some goals up front.”

The Coyotes broke camp with a projected top-nine forward group comprised of Shane Doan, Antoine Vermette, Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski, Sam Gagner, Martin Erat, David Moss and (it’s assumed) rookie Max Domi. It’s not a bad group, but one that’s light on goalscoring ability — Vermette, Doan and Radim Vrbata were the team’s only 20-goal scorers a year ago, and Vrbata’s gone — and bereft of elite-level talent down the middle.

This isn’t a knock on Hanzal, Gagner and Vermette (the latter was very good last year, and finished 14th in Selke voting), but it’s pretty obvious Arizona has a collection of No. 2 and 3 centers, missing a top-line stud — and in a conference that features the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin, Anze Kopitar, Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, there are difficult matchups on a near-nightly basis.

It’s something Maloney acknowledges. While he said he believes the Coyotes can be a playoff team, he was also realistic about how his club would have to qualify.

“Let’s face it,” Maloney said. “We need a lot of things to go well.”

How will Arizona replace the offense lost this summer?

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks

Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney bought out Mike Ribeiro’s contract over “behavioral issues” and let Radim Vrbata walk because he demanded a no-trade/no-movement clause. Those forwards tied for fourth and second on the team in points respectively, so the obvious question now is how will the Coyotes fill that void.

Keep in mind that they ranked 20th in goals per game in 2013-14, so this isn’t a minor issue. It’s possible to make the playoffs while finishing towards the bottom of the league in goals scored, but that would put even more pressure on goaltender Mike Smith than he’s already facing.

The Coyotes didn’t make a big splash on the free agent market, but they did take on the final two seasons of Sam Gagner’s three-year, $14.4 million contract. The 25-year-old forward (who is celebrating his birthday today) is coming off of a rough campaign, but he might be part of the solution in Arizona.

Gagner did enjoy a breakout campaign in the shortened 2013 season, scoring 14 goals and 38 points in 48 contests. He obviously regressed in 2013-14, but he missed most of October after breaking his jaw during training camp and that might be largely to blame for his struggles.

After watching his contract get passed around from Edmonton to Tampa Bay to Arizona this summer, he should have plenty of motivation to prove himself.

Beyond Gagner, the Coyotes will likely have to hope that their young forwards are capable of picking up the slack. Mikkel Boedker, 24, took a big step forward last season with his 51-point campaign. Max Domi might also make the leap to the NHL in 2014-15.

Throw in a full season of Martin Erat, who the Coyotes acquired from Washington in March, and there’s the potential for the Coyotes’ offense to at least be serviceable, although it certainly remains a big question mark going forward.

Looking to make the leap: Max Domi

Max Domi

When the Arizona Coyotes took forward Max Domi with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting an offensively gifted player. Now they’re hoping he can be the guy to help give them a lift perhaps sooner than later.

Domi, the son of former NHL roughneck Tie Domi, has been an exceptional player for the OHL London Knights the past two seasons. Two years ago, he scored 39 goals with 87 points. Last season he topped his point total putting up 93 points with 34 goals.

Just like his father, he’s got a bit of the agitator in him as well as he had 90 penalty minutes last season. But it’s the offensive skills the Coyotes selected him for and now they may need to call on him to help keep the team in the playoff hunt out West.

Arizona lost Radim Vrbata to the Vancouver Canucks in free agency and bought out Mike Ribeiro after what Coyotes GM Don Maloney said were less-than favorable circumstances. For as poorly as things worked out with Ribeiro, he was still fifth on the team in points with 47. Vrbata was second with 51 including 20 goals.

The Coyotes were able to acquire Sam Gagner from the Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s guys like Antoine Vermette, Mikkel Boedker, Martin Erat and Shane Doan who shape up to carry the bulk of the offensive load. If you enter Domi into the equation and things start to look up, especially if he can use his skills to provide a spark.

If there’s an upside for Domi heading into training camp it’s that there shouldn’t be too much competition from other young players to battle for a spot with the big club.

Domi came close to cracking the lineup last season and with an added year of junior play to his record, you’d have to think he’ll be in a better position to make the Coyotes this time around.

If he can’t crack the lineup,  he can go back to London and dominate for one more season. Only question there is whether there’s anything to be gained by going back to juniors.

Fanspeak: Weber voted greatest Predator in franchise history

Shea Weber

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Nashville Predators

1. Shea Weber — 555 votes

2. Pekka Rinne — 282 votes

3. David Legwand — 103 votes

It’s hard to argue Shea Weber winning the vote as the greatest Predators player in team history.

He doesn’t (currently) hold the team record for most games played, goals, or points but his role in establishing the defensive might of the Preds has been huge. Even still, his 131 goals and 347 points are good for third all-time in Predators history behind Legwand and Martin Erat.

Why yes, the Predators have only been around for 15 seasons – why do you bring that up?

Weber’s ferocious physical play and even more fearful slapshot have earned him league-wide fame. Players who have gone down to block his shots on the power play become virtual heroes for trying to stop a shot that’s been registered at over 100 miles per-hour on the reg.

It’s crazy to think Weber almost wasn’t a Predator. The infamous 14-year, $110 million monster offer sheet the Philadelphia Flyers signed him to in 2012 as a restricted free agent pushed Nashville GM David Poile to make the financially difficult decision to match it. Player-wise, it was a no-brainer to retain the guy they made captain of the team and his consistent Norris Trophy-level play has proved that.

While Weber proves to be his ever-consistent self, it’s up to Poile and now Peter Laviolette to make it all pay off and bring Nashville a Stanley Cup. At the very least, they don’t have to sweat the blue line.

Maloney on Coyotes season: ‘We have to figure out what went wrong’

2013 NHL Draft

The Phoenix Coyotes missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. While they missed by a slim margin this season, GM Don Maloney is tired of losing and said things have to change.

As Sarah McLellan of the AZCentral.com shares, Maloney feels everyone from the top down has to get better.

“We certainly came into this year with the expectation to be a playoff team,” Maloney said. “That to me is a minimum goal for this franchise. It didn’t happen, and so now we have to figure out what went wrong and that’s the job of myself and the staff and work with the coaches to get better and that’s what we’re all about here.”

The Coyotes had to deal with an injury to Mike Smith and a bizarre illness to Shane Doan early on in the season that derailed what was a brilliant start for the team captain.

One thing Maloney wasn’t able to do all season was add a top-six scorer. He spoke back in August about his desire to add to the offense of the team, but only came away with Martin Erat at the trade deadline.

A healthy Smith and a boost the offense would make for a good start in the offseason. The Coyotes have a host of young defensemen that could be dangled in a trade. Expect Maloney’s phone to be busy this summer.