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Maloney wheels and deals all day long

by Mike G. Morreale
If there were any major chinks in the armor of the Phoenix Coyotes, it's pretty safe to assume General Manager Don Maloney was determined to straighten them out.

In a span of a little over five hours on Wednesday, Maloney put the finishing touches on a League-high seven trades that, in the end, provided depth, stability and some offensive flare to boot.

Maloney actually broke the ice with the first deal of the day and, appropriately enough, would conclude all the wheeling and dealing with the League's final transaction. It began, though, when he acquired a familiar face, defenseman Derek Morris, from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a conditional draft choice in 2011.

"Whew, what a day," Maloney said during a conference call at the conclusion of his day's work. "It's pretty funny because at 5:30 a.m., I was thinking I would get shut out, but I wasn't willing to give in. With all the hard work we've put in, and I'm talking about management, coaches and the players, we want to get to playoffs and we're determined to get to the playoffs. Once we're there, we now feel we have a team that can win in the playoffs."

Following the deal for Morris, Maloney would then place his stamp of approval on the following:

* Forward Wojtek Wolski from the Colorado Avalanche for forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter.

* Defenseman Mathieu Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Sean Zimmerman and a conditional 2010 draft pick.

* Forward Lee Stempniak from Toronto for defenseman Matt Jones and 2010 fourth- and seventh-round draft picks.

* Goalie Miika Wiikman and a 2011 seventh-round pick from the New York Rangers for defenseman Anders Eriksson.

* Forward Alexandre Picard from the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Chad Kolarik.

* Forward Petteri Nokelainen from the Anaheim Ducks for a 2011 sixth-round draft pick.

The deals come on the heels of the Coyotes' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Despite the fact Maloney's club stands fifth in the Western Conference with 79 points, the club has struggled mightily to find the net -- averaging 2.53 goals-per game. The team is also 29th in the League on the power play at 14.9 percent.

"We worked hard to get ourselves in the position we're at in the standings, but we need to win games and that's what today was all about," Maloney said. "We've basically added five players with NHL experience and taken one out in Peter Mueller. Now we just have to work on chemistry and get that mix going. I think when you look at our roster, this is a legitimate team and with great goaltending (Ilya Bryzgalov) and a sound defense."

In 58 games for the Bruins, Morris scored 3 goals and 25 points while averaging 22 minutes a game. In 850 career games spanning 11-plus seasons with five clubs, the 31-year old Morris has 79 goals and 286 assists. Additionally, 46.8 percent of his 79 career goals have been scored on the power play (37) and 26.6 percent have been game-winners (21 of 79).

Wolski, 24, had 17 goals and 47 points in 62 games for the Avalanche this season. He also struck twice on the power play, led Colorado with a plus-15 rating and was tied for first in game-winners (4). He also ranked second on the club in shots (156). The pending restricted free-agent is considered one of the finer young players in the League.

"Wolski is a good fit -- he's a big kid who likes to go down low and get pucks," Morris said. "He'll do a nice job settling down that power-play. He'll get those tips and rebounds."

"We're always trying to find the right fit and chemistry and we feel Wolski is a top-line player," Maloney said. "He can fit right in with (Matt) Lombardi and (Shane) Doan. Losing (Scottie) Upshall (to a season-ending knee injury) was tough because he was one of our top scorers, but we could be a very good NHL team."

Maloney admitted the marriage between the Coyotes and Mueller, who was in this third season, just wasn't working out.

"Things just have not gone well for Peter on the ice the last season," he said. "I would have bet my life savings that Peter would have had a breakout season because he had a good training camp. But it's just never happened and he was very frustrated with his time here and asked for a trade a month ago. I was hoping he would come around and be the player we knew he would be but Peter and Coyotes just weren't a match anymore."

Schneider is in his 21st season and has appeared in 1,281 career games with Montreal, the New York Islanders, Toronto, the New York Rangers, Los Angeles, Detroit, Anaheim, Atlanta and Vancouver. He's notched 223 goals (100 on the power play) and 739 career points.

"Schneider hasn't played that much this year, but that might be a good thing," Maloney said. "I acquired him on Long Island a long time ago (in the early 1990s as GM of the Islanders). He gets pucks to the net on the power play, and that's what we want."

"We worked hard to get ourselves in the position we're at in the standings, but we need to win games, and that's what today was all about. We basically added five players with NHL experience and taken one out in Peter Mueller. Now we just have to work on chemistry and get that mix going." -- Don Maloney
Schneider, who's also notched 53 points in 111 career playoff games, won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 is a two-time NHL All-Star.

Stempniak had 14 goals and 30 points in 62 games for the Leafs this season. For his career, the fifth-season performer has 82 goals and 191 points in 356 games.

"Stempniak is the type of player who can provide secondary scoring and maybe a change will recharge his batteries," Maloney said. "Our season has evolved. So much credit has to go to our coaching staff for pulling the group together. And (NHL Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly has been tremendously supportive. As long as we were operating within our budget, and we did, we didn't need his approval.

"Our remaining trades are going to be all like playoff games and I think we have a team to get it done."

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