During the first intermission of tonight’s Calgary versus Vancouver game on TSN, the network's esteemed hockey panel revealed that the Senators and Flames were two of the teams that were most interested or aggressive in their pursuit of Kyle Turris. Colour me shocked. It’s unsurprising news to learn that the Senators, a team that could use some highly skilled forwards and has ice-time to spare (well, except if you’re Nikita Filatov), are interested in acquiring the disgruntled player who doesn’t want to end up like Mikkel Boedker – signing a short, inexpensive contract extension and then hoping that Dave Tippett will put aside whatever possible short-term success he the thinks the franchise will have so that he can actually develop you as a NHL player.
To summarize what’s gone on in Phoenix to date, here’s it is: Kyle Turris was drafted third overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft behind Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk. As a Tier II Junior "A" player, Turris ignored the ‘conventional’ development path of a prospect and opted to remain with the Burnaby Express so that he could maintain his NCAA eligibility. He eventually committed to the Wisconsin Badgers that summer and played in their 2007–08 season - recording a team-high 35 points in 36 games.
At the end of his first and only collegiate season, he signed an entry-level contract with the Coyotes and concluded his year by playing in their three remaining regular season games. The next fall, Turris ‘earned’ a spot on the Coyotes opening day roster and played in 63 games; registering 8 goals, 12 assists and an unhealthy plus/minus rating of -12. Of course it didn't help that like Turris, the team's success on the ice never materialized that seasonl. It finished with the sixth worst record in the NHL (36-39-7).
On September 29th, 2009, Wayne Gretzky resigned as head coach of the Coyotes and was replaced later that day by Dave Tippett. In his first season at the helm, the Coyotes set a new club record with 50 wins. Thanks to ta50–25–7 record and their 28 point improvement from the previous season, Tippett's coaching success was recognized for his efforts, he was awarded with his first Jack Adams Trophy. While these accolades and improvements are great in their own respect, they were not without an unfortunate consequence. As part of the organization’s struggle to remain relevant in the city, long-term player development took a backseat to whatever could help the organization win in the interim. The result was that many of the team’s heralded prospects had their confidence deteriorate and development stunted by dwindling ice-time.
One year after being rushed to the NHL level, Turris spent the entire 2009-10 season in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage.
While there is something to be said for not hurrying a prospect before that individual is ready, continually putting the short-term success ahead of player development is simply unsustainable for an organization to have any prolonged success. Thanks to the salary cap era, it’s considerably more difficult to trade or sign elite calibre players. In consequence, the onus is on the organization to draft and develop its own players that can be kept under team control for a number of years.
Burying Turris for a year in the AHL and then having him spend the bulk of the 2010-11 season playing limited minutes (Avg TOI/G of 11:06) with ineffectual players was inane. It’s a case of sucking and blowing: they rushed him to the NHL and now they can’t entrust him to play mistake free hockey in a tightly contested game. However, once the team gets down a goal or two like they did in the playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings last year, the handcuffs come off and this happens:
To further illustrate this point, here is Turris’ total ice-time proportionate to the score:
- 5 on 5, score is tied: 225:31
- 5 on 5, up by one goal: 94:42
- 5 on 5, up by two or more: 79:25
- 5 on 5, down by one goal: 102:51
- 5 on 5, down by two or more goals: 119:30
It’s no small wonder that Turris wants out. He’s being used in low leverage situations and as one of the the Coyotes’ few naturally gifted offensive players, he's frequently called upon to ignite the team's offensive game. Furthermore, proportionate to his ice-time, he was the Coyotes’ most productive player at even strength. Albeit, in playing third and fourth line minutes, he was often matched up against the opposition’s ‘soft’ lines. (Note: I’m already looking forward to a Tortorella-like rebuttal in the comment thread.)
Nevertheless, given these circumstances, I can certainly empathize with the player and he's not the first player to ever have issues with the Coyotes organization. Does anyone recall Blake Wheeler opting not to sign an ELC and signing as a UFA with the Bruins?
At what point do we criticize an organization for its role in this?
I know that many pundits in the media have knocked Turris for being greedy or not ‘earning his stripes’. However, if you worked for a company and knew that your superiors weren’t retiring any time soon, wouldn't you pursue other employment opportunities knowing that you were boxed into your job?
Similarly, Turris’ agent has already debunked the notion that this about monetary demands. “This has never been about money, we’ve been upfront with the club from Day 1. We’ve respectfully requested that the player had the opportunity to move forward in his career by having a fresh start.”
So the question remains, if this isn’t about money, who would have leaked that kind of information to discredit the player?
My first assumption is that it’s someone within the organization who is trying to create leverage where this isn’t any.
According to GM Don Maloney,
“The CBA gives us certain rights to Turris and we are exercising our rights.There will be a point in the future Turris will have the right to decide who he wants to play for and how much he will accept.
“He is not at this stage, given his age and experience. If he wants to play in the NHL this season, he will re-sign with us. We will not trade his rights under any circumstances and are prepared to live with the consequences if he decides to sit out this, and future, seasons.”
Ballsy but completely ignorant of Turris' right as a player to ask for a trade...but what do any of us know?
What I do know is that the Coyotes or any other NHL team for that matter has until December 1st to get Turris under contract so that he can play in the NHL this season. Right now, he and his agent are stuck in a high-stakes game of poker with the organization and it will be interesting to see who blinks first.
Alright, so by this point in the blog, you’re probably wondering what it would take for the Senators to acquire Turris. Well, here’s a look at Don Maloney, the 2009-10 season’s NHL GM of the Year’s trade record:
- June 23, 2007: Acquired 2007 first- and second-round picks from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2007 first-round pick.
- November 17, 2007: Claimed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.
- June 21, 2008: Acquired center Olli Jokinen from the Florida Panthers for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and a 2008 second-round pick.
- June 21, 2008: Acquired a 2008 first-round pick from the Anaheim Ducks for two 2008 second-round picks.
- June 21, 2008: Acquired right wing Alex Bourret from the New York Rangers for a 2008 third-round pick.
- June 21, 2008: Acquired 2008 second- and third-round picks from the Nashville Predators for a 2008 second-round pick.
- June 21, 2008: Acquired a 2008 second-round pick and a 2009 fourth-round pick from the Florida Panthers for a 2008 second-round pick.
- June 26, 2008: Acquired right wing Brian McGrattan from the Ottawa Senators for a 2009 fifth-round pick.
- September 12, 2008: Acquired defenseman Sean Zimmerman from the New Jersey Devils for left wing Kevin Cormier.
- October 9, 2008: Traded center Mike Zigomanis to the Pittsburgh Penguins for future considerations.
- June 21, 2009: Acquired left wing Stefan Meyer from the Florida Panthers for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent center Steven Reinprecht.
- June 29, 2009: Acquired defenseman Sami Lepisto from the Washington Capitals for a fifth-round selection in the 2010 draft.
- June 29, 2009: Acquired defenseman Jim Vandermeer from the Calgary Flames for right wing Brandon Prust.
- June 29, 2009: Acquired defenseman Shaun Heshka from the Vancouver Canucks for a seventh-round selection in the 2009 draft.
- July 14, 2009: Acquired left wing Lauri Korpikoski from the New York Rangers for right wing Enver Lisin.
- March 4, 2010: Acquired D Derek Morris from Boston for a conditional 2011 draft pick.
- March 4, 2010: Acquired F Peter Mueller and F Kevin Porter to Colorado for LW Wojtek Wolski.
- March 4, 2010: Traded D Sean Zimmerman and a 2010 conditional draft pick to Vancouver for D Mathieu Schneider.
- May 13, 2010: Traded the rights to RW Jared Staal to Carolina for a 2010 fifth-round draft pick.
- January 10, 2011: Traded F Wojtek Wolski to the N.Y. Rangers for D Michal Rozsival.
- February 9, 2011: Acquired a 2011 sixth-round draft choice from the N.Y. Islanders for G Al Montoya.
- February 28, 2011: Acquired D Rostislav Klesla and F Dane Byers from Columbus for F Scottie Upshall and D Sami Lepisto.
- May 8, 2011: Acquired C Ethan Werek from the N.Y. Rangers for C Oscar Lindberg.
- June 7, 2011: Traded the rights to G Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia for F Matt Clackson, a 2012 third-round draft pick and future considerations.
- June 25, 2011: Traded a 2011 seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for C Marc-Antoine Pouliot.
- August 29, 2011: Acquired C Daymond Langkow from Calgary for RW Lee Stempniak.
- September 8, 2011: Acquired G Marc Cheverie from Florida for C Justin Bernhardt.
- October 23, 2011: Traded C Petteri Nokelainen and D Garrett Stafford to Montreal for C Brock Trotter and a 2012 seventh-round draft pick.
Conversely, one has to wonder what the Calgary Flames, yet another potential trade destination, could offer of substance that Ottawa could not match or better. For an organization and GM that desperately want to make the playoffs, a rebuild isn't in the cards (yet) and their system is devoid of prospects. Would Jay Feaster really start offering expendable NHL-ready 'talent' to acquire Turris? Or would Phoenix even be interested in any of Calgary's veteran players?
I suppose the Flames could always offer Tim Erixon...