Yesterday Kyle Turris and the Phoenix Coyotes agreed to a 2 year contract worth $2.8 million. The deal ends a long hold out by Turris, and brings question marks to the hockey world. Turris and his agent have made critical comments of the Phoenix Coyotes and demanded a trade from the club. If Turris did not sign before December 1st, he would have forfeited the entire season per the collective bargaining agreement. Originally rumors swirled that Turris was demanding the Coyotes pay him $4 million per season. Despite the trade requests, GM Don Maloney stood strong and adamantly stated he would not trade Kyle Turris. Something had to give, and apparently it was Turris that cracked. Although this is a multi year contract, it does not mean that Turris will remain with the organization for the duration of the 2 years.
This is a huge victory for Don Maloney, and the Phoenix Coyotes. The organization has had problems off the ice, and with young players requesting trades out of the desert. At some point the team needed to put an end to the childish acts by selfish players. The great debate since the contract was agreed is how long Turris remains in Phoenix. Don Maloney is a man of his word, and stated that Turris would have to play with the Coyotes this season if he wanted to play in the NHL. No matter what changed Turris’s mind, he has played his part by signing the contract. Ultimately I dont feel that this contract is a sign and trade situation. Turris will not finish his career with the Coyotes organization, but he will complete the calendar year with the team. The power is in Turris’s hands, depending on how he produces. He had no leverage when demanding such contract requests or a trade. If Turris continues to under achieve, he will not draw much interest from rival NHL general managers. If Turris does play well, he will not only improve the Coyotes chances of making the playoffs, but improve the chances of the Coyotes receiving value in a trade involving Turris.
Now brings the on ice questions regarding Turris. What has he been doing for the past few months? Is he physically ready to play in the NHL? Is he ready to become the player that the Coyotes drafted 3rd overall? Who loses the most ice time from the return of Turris? After a long, drama filled summer, these questions are refreshing to the coaching staff and front office. In the playoffs last year, Turris shined and the objective for this season was to give him a larger role. Since the summer, the Coyotes have acquired Boyd Gordon, Daymond Langkow, Cal O’Reilly and Kyle Chipchura. To the delight of the team and fans, all four centers have put forth strong contributions. The immediate plan for Turris should be a conditioning stint in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. The Coyotes will be getting a boost at center when Daymond Langkow returns after Thanksgiving as is. It is not an immediate need for Turris to return at the moment. While things are going well, Turris should get in shape and find his game in the AHL.
Once Turris is ready, he should return to the Coyotes and be brought along slow in a secondary role. In addition, the power play will get much needed help from Turris. A spot on the third line with Mikkel Boedker would be the most comfortable start for Turris, but it will be difficult to deny Boyd Gordon the third line job. Gordon is a strong defensive, role player but deserves more than fourth line minutes. The one man that will be effected the most by Turris is Cal O’Reilly. O’Reilly has shown some flashes of offensive creativity, but it will not be the worst move in the world having him go to the AHL. IN the Portland O’Reilly can grow with Andy Miele until Turris is eventually traded. This will also allow Kyle Chipchura to remain with the club and fill an emergency role ala Paul Bissonnette. Another option that should be considered by the Coyotes coaching staff is moving Turris to the wing. Turris is a shooter, not a playmaker. His shot would be deadly on the wing, while limiting the exposure of his weak build.
It will be good to see number 91 back on the ice, but he has a lot of apologizing to do before he is truly accepted in Phoenix. Maybe he wont have much time to make his apologies, but my gut feeling is he will stay with the team for a good chunk of time. However, this contract will not stop the rumor mill.