Centerman Kyle Turris may have played his last game for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Then again, the ball seems to be in his court.
After last season, Turris became a free agent. Since then, there has been little movement, if any, on his contract status with Phoenix. Turris reportedly wants about three times the amount the Coyotes have offered, and Phoenix GM Don Maloney indicated, just as the season began, he would have nothing to say about Turris until some kind of player transaction was completed.
Before the Coyotes took on the Dallas Stars Oct. 25 at home, Maloney, according to sources close to the team, indicated he is not trading Turris and would like to have the 22-year-old center playing for Phoenix.
Now, Turris has until December 1 to sign with Phoenix, or he cannot play in the NHL until after the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the meantime, the Coyotes have banked an insurance policy and added two centers to the organization.
First, Maloney dealt for a center when he acquired 5'10", 180-pound Brock Trotter from Montreal from Petteri Nokelainen, but Trotter was assigned to AHL Portland. Then, the Coyotes recalled center Andy Miele, the 2011 Hoby Baker Award winner as the best college player, from Portland of the AHL just three weeks into the season.
Miele made his NHL debut Oct. 23 at Anaheim, and coach Dave Tippett had the 23-year-old immediately skating on a fourth line.
“No, the organization said nothing relative how long I would be here or anything like that,” Miele said after the Coyotes lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Stars Oct. 25. “As far as the transition is concerned, it’s a question of being in the right spot. The game here is much faster and the players are stronger, and it is a tough transition.”
If Miele can begin to put up some numbers, he may make the Phoenix decision-makers forget about Turris. A first indication came in the shootout against Dallas.
After the first three shooters missed for each team, Tippett put Miele out against Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen, who entered this game against Phoenix 6-0-0 with a 1.48 goals against average, and that was good for fourth best in the league. On his opportunity, Miele shot to the right of the Stars’ net, and eventually the Coyotes lost when the Stars’ Trevor Daley, the eighth shooter, beat Mike Smith on a backhander.
“(Tippett) showed confidence in me on the shootout,” Miele added. “Yeah, I was nervous, but it shows I have to get better every day.”
For now, he is heir apparent to Turris, but in the long season which is the NHL grind, Miele could be here today and gone tomorrow.
In the end, the Coyotes have chosen to play hardball with Turris, and now it seems it’s up to Turris to respond.
For the kind of money Turris wants, he has little production to support the high demand. In 65 games a year ago with the Coyotes, Turris scored 11 goals and assisted on 14 others for a meager 25 scoring points. In four Stanley Cup playoff games against the Red Wings, he picked up one goal.
When Phoenix made the New Westminster, B.C. product their No. 1 pick—third overall in the 2007 draft—expectations were quite high. Turris was coming off 66 goal season for Burnaby in the 2006-07 season, and played one season at the University of Wisconsin (11-24, 24 points in 36 games) before participating in three games with Phoenix at the end of the 2007-08 season.
Turris spend the majority of the next season with Phoenix (8-12-20 points in 63 games) before a demotion to AHL San Antonio. For the 2009-10 season, Turris appeared in 76 games for the Rampage, and picked up 24 goals and 39 assists for 63 scoring points.
That earned a full-time job in the NHL for 2010-11, but his offensive ineffectiveness and lack of production clearly caught the eye of Maloney and coach Dave Tippett.
Overall, the lack of production on the ice is a prime factor why the Coyotes are 3-3-2 out of the gate, and 11th in the Western Conference.
After dropping the shootout to Dallas, the Coyotes have a record of 1-2-1 in their last four games through Oct. 25, but the Stars captured both meetings so far this season with shootout wins.
“We have to find a way to win these games,” Smith said. “We’re up 2-1 and must find a way to score that third one. We can’t seem to find a way win in regulation time.”
Honors for Doan
Phoenix captain Shane Doan picked up his 300th career NHL goal when he scored on the power play to give Phoenix a 2-1 edge late in the third period against Dallas. His goal came with just under 12 minutes to play, but the Stars’ Adam Burish scored with 1:01 left in regulation to send this one into overtime, and eventually, a shootout.
“Shane’s goal was a big one for us,” Tippett said. “I would like to see that stand up for him, but we had breakdowns in the end that led to the tying goal.
Quotes used in this story were obtained by the author in postgame interviews on Oct. 25, 2011.