CHICAGO – He's not ready to rejoin the Phoenix Coyotes active lineup just yet, but Kyle Turris probably isn't far off from after recently signing with the team.
Turris, a restricted free agent, would have missed the entire 2011-12 season if he didn't reach an agreement on a new contract before Dec. 1, and at one point asked the Coyotes to trade him. Instead, they inked him to a new two-year deal, and all that's left to do now is get the 22-year old center -- taken by Phoenix with the third pick of the 2007 Entry Draft -- ready for games.
"He's come in in great shape," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who got another look at Turris during this morning's skate in Chicago. "So far in practices he looks very good. He plays the game fast, his skill level and everything looks to be right in sync."
Turris still might need a conditioning stint with Portland in the American Hockey League, but that hasn't been determined yet. For now, he's with the Coyotes for practices but not games.
"We'll see where it goes for the next couple of days here and whether he has to go play a couple days in Portland or whether we keep him up here," Tippett said. "That final decision hasn't been made yet, but the bright spot is he has come in and you can tell he has put a lot of
work in to get himself ready, so that's a real positive for us."
Just getting Turris back in the fold is a positive, almost akin to making a trade to get a solid player without having to give up anything in return.
"You're adding a good player," Tippett said of Turris, who had 11 goals and 14 assists in 65 games last season. "Sometimes the business part of the game comes into play and that was the case, but you're adding a player that can come in and I think can make an impact on our team."
Turris also appears to have added some muscle to his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame, which Tippett thinks will help him improve even more in the middle.
"The other side of that (contract dispute) is he's a player that has worked on his strength and maturity and that extra month might have done him some good," Tippett said. "Time will tell on that, but he looks fit and looks strong and rested, ready to play."
As for his teammates understanding his situation after the contentious negotiations sometimes became public, Coyotes captain Shane Doan said it's not an issue.
"It's one of those things that you understand it's a business and the way that it goes and that obviously there are going to be times where, business-wise, you're going to try to take advantage of the way the system is set up," Doan said. "When it's set up in your favor, yeah, you should definitely use it. Other times, maybe not."