Tag: Zbynek Michalek


St. Louis Blues ’15-16 Outlook


Do something in the playoffs, maybe?

That’s certainly the Blues’ objective next year, something that’s been made abundantly clear by everyone in the organization — but, quite frankly, that topic has been done to death.

So how about a new angle? Consider what GM Doug Armstrong told Sportsnet in May:

“There’s the Bell Curve of a career. The data is being redefined. Age brackets pre-expansion were older… The slower game allowed longer careers. Now, the maturity of young players, with strength coaches at age 15. It’s tending to a younger man’s game every year.

There’s anomalies to all of this; every player says they are the anomaly… That’s what makes them great. But young players are driving the bus at an earlier age of their career.”

Translation: It’s time to go young, and St. Louis is ready to embrace it.

The trend began this summer when the Blues made 23-year-old Vladimir Tarasenko its highest-paid player with an eight-year, $60 million extension; in explaining the deal, Armstrong called the Russian sniper a “great building block” that could “help lead us now.”

Those were telling words from a franchise often identified by its veteran leaders.

And Tarasenko isn’t the only youngster looking at an increased role.

Gone from last year’s team are Chris Porter, Zbynek Michalek, Marcel Goc, Olli Jokinen and, most notably, two of the most prominent Blues — Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie. If there’s one thing that linked these guys together, it’s age; Oshie is the youngest of the crew, and he turns 29 in December.

St. Louis has been stockpiling draft prospects for years, and this could be the time for some to break through: Ty Rattie, Robby Fabbri, Jordan Schmaltz and Ivan Barbashev, all top-35 picks, will get their looks to varying degrees, and Dmitri Jaskin — the 22-year-old Czech winger that scored 13 times last year — and Finnish d-man Petteri Lindbohm will try and take stronger holds on roster spots.

In fact, the development of some of these kids could have a profound impact on another Blues veteran — team captain David Backes.

“I think where we play David now depends on (Dmitrij) Jaskin, (Ty) Rattie and (Robby) Fabbri,” head coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “How they do in camp and what level of play we think they can arrive at will determine how much we play David on the right wing.

“I can tell you right now, (Backes) is going to play more right wing than he’s played since I got here. Whether he’s a full-time player there or not, we don’t know yet. That depends on those three young kids.”

It’s Arizona Coyotes day at PHT

Shane Doan

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Arizona Coyotes.

The Arizona Coyotes struggled both offensively and defensively last season, and as a result they finished 29th overall with a 24-50-8 record.

Their 11-25-5 record at Gila River Arena was their worst home record since moving to Arizona 19 years ago.

Arizona finished 29th overall scoring 2.01 goals-for per-game and allowed 3.28 goals-for per-game good for 28th overall.

“Not only couldn’t we score last year, we couldn’t defend,” GM Don Maloney told NHL.com.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson led the way offensively with a career-high 23 goals and 43 points in 82 games for the Coyotes in 2014-15. His 23 goals were the most by a defenseman last season. The 24-year-old also represented Arizona at the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus.

Up front, Sam Gagner led all Coyotes’ forwards with 15 goals and 41 points – both were his highest totals since the 2011-12 season while a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

Mike Smith carried the load in goal making 62 appearances going 14-42-5 while posting a 3.16 G.A.A. and a .904 save percentage.

Off-season recap

The Arizona Coyotes solved their off-ice dispute over a lease agreement with the City of Glendale last month. The new deal will keep the Coyotes at Gila River Arena for at least the next two seasons.

Not surprisingly, the team is already pushing to have the deal extended.

As far as on-ice moves go, Maloney brought back Antoine Vermette after trading him to the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the trade deadline. Arizona also signed free-agent forwards Steve Downie and Brad Richardson.

On the blue line, the Coyotes brought back Zbynek Michalek, who was dealt to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline. Arizona also acquired Nicklas Grossmann in the trade, which also landed them the contract of Chris Pronger.

In goal, the Coyotes signed Anders Lindback to back up Smith.

“I think we’ll play better defense in front of [Smith], which is important,” Maloney said. “I think we’ll have a better structure in front of Mike so he doesn’t feel like he has to be all-world every night and he can just do his thing.”

Coyotes re-sign former first-rounder Gormley

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Arizona has re-upped with young blueliner Brandon Gormley on a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Thursday.

Gormley, 23, has spent his entire professional career with the Coyotes after they took him 13th overall at the 2010 draft. A former junior standout — he was named Top Defenseman at the ’12 Worlds — Gormley has yet to make his mark at the NHL level; as an illustration, consider that the defenseman taken one spot ahead of Gormley, Cam Fowler, has already appeared in 345 career contests.

Gormley, meanwhile, has played just 32.

Despite that, it looks as though he’ll have a good shot at extended minutes in Arizona this season. Gone from last year’s blueline are the likes of John Moore and Andrew Campbell but, that said, GM Don Maloney did bring in a pair of veteran presences this summer by re-signing Zbynek Michalek, and adding Nicklas Grossmann via trade.

Coyotes want long-term deal with Glendale

PNI Coyotes Deal 0611

Last week, the Coyotes and Glendale resolved their contentious arena lease dispute.

Now, the Coyotes want to extend the deal.

“I would like to see us structure something with the city of Glendale on an extended basis sometime over this next year,” team president Anthony LeBlanc said, per the Arizona Republic. “Because I don’t want to go into free agency next year having Don [Maloney, Arizona GM] dealing with the same uncertainty he was dealing with this year.”

That uncertainty, according to the Republic, affected negotiations with RFA winger Mikkel Boedker, who opted to sign a one-year pact rather than a long-term extension.

The Boedker negotiations, in turn, apparently played a role in the Coyotes’ decision to target long-term with Glendale, rather than wait for the renewed lease — which went from a 15-year agreement to a two-year — to expire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

The desire for a long-term pact isn’t surprising. Though the Coyotes were able to land free agents like Steve Downie, Anders Lindback, Brad Richardson and ex-Coyotes Zbynek Michalek and Antoine Vermette, none of them signed on for longer than three years. The Republic reports that “a number of players [were] uninterested in the Coyotes because of their drama.”

If the club is going to be a significant player in free agency moving forward, Maloney needs to sell potential targets on a number of things.

Like, y’know, where they’re going to play.

“We will begin in earnest in the month of August having discussions about what we need to see on both sides to extend this,” LeBlanc explained. “Nobody benefits from a short-term deal like this, in particular, our hockey department.”

In pitching free agents, honesty is best policy for Coyotes

Don Maloney

Imagine trying to convince a free agent to sign with the Arizona Coyotes.

Not only did the Coyotes finish with the second-worst record in the NHL last season, their future in Glendale remains murky at best.

So, how does GM Don Maloney make his pitch?

“You’re honest with them,” he said, per azcentral. “You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.’ Things seem to have a way of working themselves out, so we try to downplay it as much as we can.”

The Coyotes did recently convince Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Downie, Brad Richardson, and Anders Lindback to sign with them. They’re still reportedly looking for a puck-moving defenseman.

Related: Coyotes bring back Vermette with two-year deal