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Plotnikov traded by Penguins to Coyotes

Pittsburgh receives conditional draft pick, AHL player

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Forward Sergei Plotnikov was traded two time zones away Monday but only had to move approximately 30 yards.

The Arizona Coyotes acquired Plotnikov from the Pittsburgh Penguins in a trade for forward Matthias Plachta and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. After failing to earn any NHL playing time in nearly two months, Plotnikov could make his Coyotes debut at Consol Energy Center.

Plotnikov transitioned to the visitors locker room, just down the hall from the Penguins room, and took the ice for Arizona's optional morning skate.

"I have been in that situation a couple times as a player and I don't know if I have as a coach," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "But it's unique and it's not the first time it's happened … [It's] convenient. Especially on a day like today where there are lots of moving parts, so it gives you extra options."

Plotnikov, a rookie, has two assists in 32 games with Pittsburgh this season. Tippett said there is a chance Plotnikov could play Monday.

"He's a hard, up-and-down winger, not what you would think of as a Russian winger, but plays a heavy game," Tippett said. "He finishes checks. He's just a simple player up and down. … I think he's a player now who's looking for more opportunity than he got [with Pittsburgh] and maybe he'll be able to find some."

After spending six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, Plotnikov, 25, decided to leave Russia for the NHL last summer. He scored 146 points and 68 goals in 300 KHL games before Penguins center Evgeni Malkin convinced him to join Pittsburgh during the offseason.

Tippett said the Coyotes expressed interest in Plotnikov when he was first available and were pleased the Penguins were willing to trade him.

"He's a player we talked about last summer when he was a free agent," Tippett said. "It was a player we had interest in this summer. He ended up coming to Pittsburgh here, but I guess became available and we just decided to have a look at him."

The trade likely won't impact the Penguins lineup because Plotnikov has been a healthy scratch every game since Jan. 6.

After spending some time on Pittsburgh's second line with Malkin, Plotnikov's role decreased significantly and he failed to score in his past 22 games. Despite injuries to forwards Eric Fehr, Nick Bonino, Beau Bennett and Malkin, the Penguins elected to call up several forwards from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League rather than play Plotnikov over the past two months.

Penguins general manger Jim Rutherford on Friday told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan wasn't pleased when Plotnkiov at some point suggested he would like to return to Russia.

"I'm not sure why [Plotnikov] never worked out in Pittsburgh," Sullivan said. "Most of [Plotnikov's] time here was before I got here, so it's hard for me to speak to that. But I think, for whatever reason, it just didn't seem to work. I'm certainly happy for [Plotnikov] that he's going to get an opportunity to continue his career and have an opportunity to play."

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said he thinks a change of scenery can spark Plotnikov.

"We're certainly hoping it does," Maloney said. "We had good intel on Sergei. I talked to Jim over the past month or a little bit, just dabbling … I talked to [forward] Viktor [Tikhonov] about Sergei and how he's played with him at a couple world championships. He's played on the same line as him. And so we thought we knew he was a good player.

"Whether he can get up to speed quickly and have a positive impact, that'll be up to him. But certainly, he's going to get every opportunity with us. I know he's a hungry player."

The Coyotes later traded forward Mikkel Boedker to the Colorado Avalanche for forwards Alex Tanguay and Conner Bleackley and defenseman Kyle Wood.

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