GLENDALE – The Coyotes on Wednesday acquired a third-round draft choice in 2015 from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for backup goaltender Devan Dubnyk, whose contract with Arizona was set to expire after this season.
General Manager Don Maloney said he made the deal for three reasons.
"Devan played very well for us during his time in Arizona, however, this trade accomplishes three things for us. First, we acquired a good asset that we can use in the future. Second, it allows us to take a look at a couple of our younger goaltenders in our system – Louis Domingue and Mike Lee – to see where they are in their development. And finally, it will put Mike Smith back in our net on a permanent basis to get him back to the level we know he can play at. We believe in Mike."
Smith has posted a 7-17-2 record and a 3.52 goals-against average this season for the Coyotes. Maloney and Head Coach Dave Tippett are hopeful he can improve on those numbers with a heavy workload in the second half of the season.
• Philip Samuelsson practiced with the Coyotes for the first time on Wednesday and could make his debut with the team as soon as Thursday at home vs. Calgary.
"For me, it’s all about playing defense and moving the puck and not trying anything outside of my comfort zone," Samuelsson said, when asked how he plans to stick in the NHL. "(I look to) make a good first pass to the forwards and make sure I get it into the hands of the good guys."
Samuelsson is a solid penalty killer and isn’t shy about being physical in front of his net.
Tippett, who remembers seeing Philip and his siblings around the rink when he was a teammate of their dad, Ulf, is eager to see what the young defenseman can bring to the table.
"I know he’s excited for the opportunity and I’m interested to see what he can do,” Tippett said. "The knocks against him have been can he play at the NHL speed (and) think at the NHL speed. He’s a smart player so I think the thinking part should be fine, but it will be interesting to see how he reacts to NHL speed."
The Coyotes acquired Samuelsson, 23, in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins last month. He has been playing for the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine since then, and in 16 games with Portland he notched one goal and two assists and was plus-6.
The Coyotes recalled him on Tuesday.
Not only is Samuelsson the son of Ulf Samuelsson, he’s also the big brother of Coyotes prospect Henrik Samuelsson. Like Henrik, Philip honed his hockey skills in Arizona as a youngster while his dad worked for the Coyotes. Unlike Henrik, Philip opted to play defense instead of forward.
"Obviously, I’d like to score 50 goals a year but that’s not the type of player I am so I have to make sure no one else scores 50 in a year," he said.
Samuelsson’s next NHL game will be his sixth; he played five for Pittsburgh last season. The Penguins selected him with the 61st overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft.
• Tippett said captain Shane Doan might play in Thursday’s home game vs. the Calgary Flames.
"I would put him as doubtful for tomorrow but I've seen stranger things happen with Doaner," Tippett said after practice on Wednesday morning.
Doan suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Tuesday’s game vs. San Jose and played only 13:31. He did, however, notch his 10th goal of the season. Doan has scored 10 or more goals in 15 consecutive seasons.
Later on Wednesday, Doan told the team’s flagship radio station - Arizona Sports 98.7 FM - he is not ruling himself out of the lineup for Thursday’s game just yet.
"We’ll see tomorrow how it feels," Doan said. "It’s nothing major. Hopefully I can play."
• Meanwhile, Tippett said center Martin Hanzal would play on Thursday. Hanzal has missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury. And defenseman Brandon Gormley, who missed Tuesday’s game because of a lower-body injury, is considered day-to-day, Tippett said.