Coyotes' offensive options limited

BY foxsports • January 11, 2012

As the Coyotes threw shot after shot at New York Rangers goalie Henrik
Lundqvist to no avail in Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss at Madison Square
Garden, you couldn’t help thinking: “Gosh, if they only had a little
more offense.”

Yeah. Don Maloney gets that a lot.

Earlier
in the season, the Coyotes general manger surprised some people by
suggesting his first personnel move might be to add depth along the blue
line. But the progress of young blue-liners Oliver Ekman-Larsson and
David Schlemko might have altered that thinking. The more important
factor, however, is the Coyotes’ 2.49 goals per game, which ranks them
24th in the 30-team NHL.

If the Coyotes are going to make the
playoffs for a third consecutive season, they’re going to need more
scoring punch. Goalie Mike Smith has resumed his solid play after a
mini-slump, and Phoenix is ninth in the league in goals against per game
(2.51). All that’s missing is a little more offense.

The trade deadline is Feb. 27, about 6½ weeks away. But the Coyotes are not in a rush to make any moves.

“We’re probably a month away from determining what we need,” Maloney said.

Why?
Because it’s been difficult to assess those needs with centers Martin
Hanzal and Boyd Gordon out of the lineup due to injuries.

“Those two guys stabilize our lines and give us depth,” coach Dave Tippett said.

“They touch the game in so many ways,” Maloney added.

Gordon
returned to the lineup in New York, playing just over 12 minutes as he
rounds back into shape. Hanzal didn’t make this three-game trip, but the
Coyotes hope to have him back when they return.

Once he returns, Maloney said he will be able to better assess the team’s shopping list.

Clearly,
the Coyotes would like to add a center. They wanted one in the
off-season, but elite centers aren’t usually available unless they’re at
the end of their career.

Don’t be fooled by Anaheim general
manager Bill Murray’s saber rattling, either. Ryan Getzlaf isn’t going
anywhere. He’s too young, his contract is too reasonable, and he’d leave
a gaping hole in the middle of the Ducks’ lineup. Murray was just
sending a shot across the bow of his underperforming team when he said
everyone on the roster outside Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu is available
via trade.

And if you’re thinking about Blue Jackets star winger
Rick Nash, consider this remark from Maloney about what he’s willing to
deal in a trade.

“If we're going to get into A-plus assets, it's
going to be for a centerman who we can have around here for a few
years,” he said. “The players on the market right now at that position
are that older player that’s toward the end of the line.

“We
have some room in our budget to add something right now, but there’s
nothing out there to add. There’s a lot of talk, but little substance.
It’s a smoke screen.”

For a third straight season, Maloney said
the NHL is placing no undue restrictions on what the Coyotes do around
the trade deadline, despite the team’s ongoing ownership limbo. He also
said the NHL has never made the impending expiration of the collective
bargaining agreement (Sept. 15) a factor in operations of team.

But wanting to add a center and finding one are two different things. If all else fails, Coyotes fans can just replay that tussle between
former Coyotes centers Danny Briere and Kyle Turris the other night.
Briere was the center the Coyotes shouldn’t have let go. Turris was the
center on whom they misspent a No. 3 pick in the 2007 draft.

It
might have done Coyotes fans some cathartic good to watch Briere deliver
blow after blow in what was scored a unanimous decision.


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