Phoenix Coyotes restricted free agent Kyle Turris would normally be just over a week away from preparing to join the team in training camp. Instead, he’s sitting things out waiting to get a new contract worked out with the team and after a few frustrating seasons with Phoenix, negotiations might be going a bit difficult for both sides.
Turris was the Coyotes first round pick in 2007 and since then he’s participated with the team three out of the last four years totaling up 131 games played and just 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists). The last two seasons he’s played in 63 games in 2008-2009 and 65 games in 2010-2011 respectively while still alternating between the NHL and the AHL as well as the NHL and the press box as a healthy scratch. Turris spent all of 2009-2010 in the AHL.
With those kinds of numbers in mind, Turris’ negotiations with the Coyotes apparently aren’t going too hot and James van Riemsdyk’s new contract might be to blame for that. ESPN’s Scott Burnside reports on what he’s heard Turris is asking for and if you’re Coyotes GM Don Maloney you’d probably be exasperated by the numbers.
Still, league sources told ESPN.com that Turris is looking for a three-year deal worth an average of slightly more than $4 million annually or a two-year deal worth slightly more than $3 million. Those numbers would put Turris in the same high-rent district as James van Riemsdyk, who recently signed a six-year extension with the Philadelphia Flyers worth an average of $4.25 million. Van Riemsdyk is another player from that talent-rich 2007 draft class; he was the second overall pick behind No. 1 selection Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
With van Riemsdyk’s monster extension worth six years and $25.5 million, Turris feels that he’s in the same neighborhood talent-wise as the Flyers budding star. The problem here is that Turris didn’t get to show off in the playoffs the way van Riemsdyk was able to. It was in the Eastern Conference playoffs where van Riemsdyk turned up his game and played like a dominating big forward taking plenty of shots and driving the net to create scoring chances. It was a revelation to see van Riemsdyk break out like that, but for Turris, being able to impress Coyotes coach Dave Tippett has been tough to do.
In Turris’ last two NHL seasons, he’s averaged time on ice that’s more befitting of a fourth liner than a first round draft pick. In 2008-2009 he averaged 12:55 played per game and this past season that number dropped to 11:16 per game. For a guy who’s meant to be an offensive threat and a playmaker, playing that little per night is not going to get it done, especially playing on the fourth line. Turris was able to score 11 goals with 14 assists last season but spent the latter half of the year in the press box.
In the playoffs, however, Turris did play in all four games the Coyotes had and scored a goal with two assists while averaging 13:05 played per game in a series that saw them swept out by the Red Wings. It’s not the kind of epiphany postseason that van Riemsdyk saw, and for Turris that’s what’s going to work against him if he thinks he can get that kind of deal from the Coyotes. The Coyotes still operating without an owner doesn’t help matters much either.
You have to wonder if such an exorbitant asking price considering his output is either based on what he might eventually do if given more playing time or if it’s Turris and agent Kurt Overhardt’s not-so subtle way of telling the Coyotes they’d like to get more playing time come hell or high water. With a presumed large gap between the demands and what the Coyotes are offering, it could set the stage for an eventual trade. It’s all part of the hard bargaining process, of course, and we’re getting a little peek as to how things go but you have to believe things are a bit more difficult between both teams than we’ve known all along.