Who do the Coyotes players feel about a possible move to Winnipeg? Does Ilya Bryzgalov’s recent diss of Winnipeg shared by other NHL players? What issues face management heading into an off-season of uncertainty? Read on for the latest.
FOXSPORTS ARIZONA: Craig Morgan recently reported on five issue facing the Phoenix Coyotes this summer whilst facing the possibility of relocation to Winnipeg. Among the issues: will the new ownership, be it one committed to keeping the team in Arizona or moving it to Winnipeg, be committed to investing in the roster, especially notable free agent like Ilya Bryzgalov, Keith Yandle, Radim Vbrata and Kyle Turris? Given how Bryzgalov has come up short in the last two playoffs, might they be better off investing in another goaltender? They’ll also need to “do the right thing” by team captain Shane Doan, who is entering the final season of his current contract, and re-sign him to another, albeit more affordable, extension.
SPORTSNET.CA: Mark Spector (No relation) reported Bryzgalov’s recent comments expressing an unwillingness to follow the Coyotes to Winnipeg spoke for ” a goodly portion of NHL players”, noting a player who signs with the Coyotes this summer stands a 50-50 chance of playing next season either in Arizona or Winnipeg.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Eric Duhatschek reported Coyotes players like Shane Doan and Adrian Aucoin consider the Phoenix area their home and would prefer to stay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is something Canadian hockey fans in general and Winnipeg hockey fans in particular don’t like to hear, but there hasn’t exactly been a stampede of top unrestricted free agents in the playing prime signing with Canadian-based teams in recent years, especially those in smaller markets. If the Coyotes do move to Winnipeg of course they’ll be able to sign UFAs, but more likely it’ll be those still unsigned desperate for an NHL job. Re-signing restricted free agents like Yandle and Turris shouldn’t be a problem as the team owns their rights, provided of course they don’t get an unmatchable offer sheet from a rival club if they’re still unsigned after July 1st, but retaining or replacing pending UFAs like Bryzgalov and future ones like Doan could be a problem if players start to view “the Peg” like many of them currently view Edmonton. Of course, that can change if the Winnipeg team turns into a perennial Cup contender, but when it’s a marginal team or a perennial non-contender, it becomes harder to entice top free agents.