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Coyotes remake their roster at deadline

by Dan Rosen /
Seeing their team tumble out of the playoff race during the last month, Phoenix Coyotes executives started building again for next season with a flurry of activity Wednesday that totally changes the complexion of the Coyotes' roster, but keeps their young core intact.

The Coyotes didn't move Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov or Mikkel Boedker. They also kept their veteran core of Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski and Ilya Bryzgalov in tact.

But through four trades, the Coyotes shifted around a lot of other parts, while also adding some depth and draft picks and creating some salary-cap flexibility.

"We felt everything we did today stayed with the message," Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving told "It allowed us to get a little bit quicker, and a core asset of our team is playing with speed and pace, and it leaves us with some flexibility. We were able to put some picks in the bank. We're not a team that is out spending right to the cap, but having flexibility today going forward into the summer and the next few years here that will be a real asset."

Here's how it went down:

The Coyotes warmed up by dealing backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist to Buffalo for a fourth-round pick in 2010. Moving Tellqvist gives an opportunity to Josh Tordjman to come up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

Phoenix jumped right into the fire a few hours later by sending Olli Jokinen and a third-round pick to Calgary in exchange for forwards Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a conditional first-round pick in either 2009 or 2010.

That was considered the day's blockbuster, but Phoenix was hardly done.

Just prior to the deadline, Phoenix GM Don Maloney executed two more trades.

He first sent agitating winger Daniel Carcillo to Philadelphia in exchange for Scottie Upshall and a second-round pick in 2011. Maloney then pulled off a blockbuster, this time with his former boss.

He shipped defenseman Derek Morris to the New York Rangers in exchange for wingers Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes as well as defenseman Dmitri Kalinin. Maloney was the Rangers' assistant GM when the team drafted Prucha in 2002 and Dawes in 2003.

So, to recap, the Coyotes started the day with Jokinen, Morris, Carcillo, Tellqvist and their third-round pick in this year's draft. They finished the day with Lombardi, Prust, Upshall, Prucha, Dawes, Kalinin, a conditional first-round pick and a second-round pick.
OK, got all of that?

"The future of our franchise is no different than it has been for the last year and a half," Treliving said. "We really wanted to address a couple of things with our mix."


Treliving believes Lombardi will add speed and character to the Coyotes, while Prust replaces Carcillo's grit. Lombardi, 26, has 30 points and a plus-11 rating in 50 games this season and Prust, 24, a rookie, has 79 penalty minutes in just 25 games.

"The success we had right up until the break is from being a team that attacks and plays with speed, energy and pace," Treliving said. "We think Matthew brings all of that to the table. Really character, too. The culture of our team is the most important. It doesn't matter how close you think you are, until your culture is right, the dressing room is right, you're not going to win. We think Matthew's character and personality and fit with our group."

This is the first time Lombardi has been traded on deadline day and he said on the NHL Network that it's been a whirlwind. Since he had been hearing rumors that he would be moved, he wasn't totally surprised.

"I was trying not to pay attention to what was going on in the media, but you hear it anyway that something could happen, might well happen and obviously it did happen," Lombardi said. "You never know what could happen on this day and this is the way it goes."

In Prucha and Dawes, the Coyotes got a pair of forwards with goal scoring potential. Both were limited in the Rangers' system, playing behind forwards like Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Nikolai Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky, Markus Naslund and Ryan Callahan.

Prucha scored 30 goals as a rookie in 2005-06, including 17 on the power play while playing with Jaromir Jagr. His numbers have dropped every season since and he has been a healthy scratch for more than half this season with the Rangers.

Prucha has only 9 points in 28 games this season, but he is an energy player who can contribute on the power play. Dawes had 14 goals last season and 10 in 52 games this season. He's another guy who will get an opportunity in a bigger role under Gretzky.

Treliving is hoping Prucha and/or Dawes can pull off something similar to what Radim Vrbata did last season. Vrbata bounced around the League before landing with Phoenix last season and scoring 27 goals.

"He had some offensive touch and wasn't in the right situation before, but he had a real good year for us with 27 goals," Treliving said. "We look at this move with both Nigel and Petr Prucha as guys, given a little more responsibility, who have some offensive upside. The one commonality they have is there is a competitive level. They are second and third effort players. Those are attributes we want to have."

It's unclear if the Coyotes will try to re-sign Kalinin, who has 13 points this season, in the offseason. However, shipping Morris out frees up some ice time for young defenseman Keith Yandle, who should see some more time on the specialty units now.
"We felt everything we did today stayed with the message. It allowed us to get a little bit quicker, and a core asset of our team is playing with speed and pace, and it leaves us with some flexibility. We were able to put some picks in the bank." -- Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving

"Our blue line is an area that we're building," Treliving said. "We want to get Kalinin in here, take a look at him and see where he fits in moving forward."

The other key acquisition of the day was Upshall, a former first-round draft pick. The speedy winger has 21 points on 7 goals and 14 assists and a plus-5 rating in 55 games this season. Carcillo leaves the Coyotes leading the League with 174 penalty minutes.

Upshall is scheduled to be a restricted free agent after this season.

"I feel like I'm repeating myself, but if you look at these players there are a lot of similar traits," Treliving said. "Scottie is a character guy, an energy player and is great in your locker room. We see him as a third-line guy who has the ability to score. He's not going to score 50, but he has the ability to get a hot stick and he can play the way we want to play - the north-south game, chase and hunt pucks, get in on the forecheck and bring speed and energy to the lineup."

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