Kyle Turris’ contract showdown with the Phoenix Coyotes has dominated the rumor mill in the opening weeks of this season.
Despite numerous reports claiming around half-a-dozen teams, including the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, have expressed interest in Turris, Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney has repeatedly stated he won’t trade the 22-year-old center.
Turris’ agent, Kurt Overhardt, last week confirmed his client requested a trade. Overhardt is hopeful a rival club will pitch his client an offer sheet in the price range of his salary demands (three years, $4 million per). If a team offered a deal like that the Coyotes probably wouldn’t match, but it appears no offer is coming.
If Turris remains unsigned by Dec. 1, he’ll become ineligible to play the remainder of this season. As a result, the month of November will bring this stare-down between the Turris camp and Coyote management to a head, as each side waits for the other to blink first.
Most fans and media around the league have sided with Maloney, feeling Turris has yet to prove anything at this stage in his young NHL career to justify his position.
Still, there’s a school of thought that suggests the Coyotes GM is being too stubborn, that he’s trying to prove a point at the expense of his team and that it would be better to move Turris elsewhere for a return beneficial to the Coyotes.
Interest from other teams aside, one has to believe if Turris can command a significant return, Maloney would give serious consideration to trading him. Indeed, a rumor blogger suggested Maloney’s stance is little more than media posturing and that he intends to push this standoff as close as possible to Dec. 1 in hopes of maximizing the return.
It’s certainly possible that’s what he’s doing, but what is the going rate for a 2007 third overall draft pick who has managed 20- and 25-point performances in his two NHL seasons to date?
What if Turris isn’t the future first-line center he was once touted to be? What if he only turns out to be a decent checking line center – or a minor-leaguer?
Is Turris worth gambling an already established player – say, Rene Bourque, if you’re the Flames – or a promising young player – such as Cody Franson, if you’re the Maple Leafs – in hopes he’ll blossom into that top center you’ve been seeking?
And is Maloney’s stance really hurting his team? Is he really just posturing for the press?
The Coyotes have a 6-3-2 record and are riding a three-game winning streak. Apart from defenseman Kurt Sauer out for the season with a concussion, and blueliner Michal Rozsival out with a head injury, their roster is healthy.
Their depth at center is in good shape. Martin Hanzal (nine points) and Daymond Langkow (seven points) are doing well on the scoring lines, while Boyd Gordon and recently-acquired Cal O’Reilly center the checking lines.
The Coyotes could use more offensive depth on the wings, but so far it’s not a pressing need.
On defense, there’s a mix of veteran skill (Keith Yandle, Adrian Aucoin, Derek Morris, Rostislav Klesla) and young defenders in Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Schlemko.
They’ve given up a high amount of shots so far (sixth most), but there’s plenty of time left this season to reduce that number.
Free agent pick-up Mike Smith has been solid so far in goal and Jason LaBarbera is a decent backup, so there’s no urgent requirement to upgrade their goaltending.
Maloney’s under no pressure at this point to move Turris. That will change as the team progresses through its November schedule, but as long as Phoenix’s record remains above .500, Maloney’s showdown with Turris won’t hurt the Coyotes.
If we take Maloney’s no-trade stance at face value it’s pointless to speculate over what it would take to make him change his mind.
Assuming he’s merely posturing for the press and hoping to increase Turris’ value, time remains on Maloney’s side, so we shouldn’t expect a move until late-November.
Either way, we’ll know for sure by Dec. 1. In the meantime, for those of you who are sick of hearing about the Turris holdout, look on the bright side: this will be resolved, one way or the other, in less than a month.
Rumor Focus appears Tuesdays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.