Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris
sat out Saturday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues as a healthy scratch after a consultation with General Manager Don Maloney.
“It was a mutual decision,” Maloney told phoenixcoyotes.com. “When it came down to this game, the thing is because of where we're at, we mutually decided that rather risking an injury, mentally knowing he is not going to be here, we decided to sit him out.”
Morris, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, has been talking to the Coyotes about a new long-term deal, but the two sides haven’t been able to reach an agreement.
“We couldn’t find a contract both sides could live with,” Maloney said. “As an organization, we decided to explore trade opportunities. He is a good player and he has good value and we think we can make a trade that will make us better down the road. This is something that has been going on for months and months. Within the last week, it has gotten to a point now where we realize we are not able to do the contract and we have to find a trade.”
Morris is expected to be traded by the NHL trade deadline, which is Wednesday at 1 p.m. (Arizona time).
“The deal is not there yet,” Maloney said. ”There are a number of teams that have expressed interest in him and it’s just a matter of finding a deal that makes sense both contractually and player-wise for us.”
Maloney did not rule out Morris returning to the Coyotes in July when the free agency period begins.
“Maybe Derek will go somewhere, have some success and we can talk again in July, perhaps. We felt if we weren’t able to sign him, then we needed to improve the franchise and we need to trade him.”
Morris was unavailable for comment.