Interpreting GM speak, or how to explain why Kyle Turris is suddenly trending in Canada this A.M.:
Throughout Kyle Turris’s acrimonious contract talks with the Phoenix Coyotes earlier this fall, general manager Don Maloney was absolutely clear about one thing: the NHL team was not about to trade Turris under any circumstances, no matter how many times he was rumored to be heading to the Calgary Flames (for Rene Bourque, for Mikael Backlund, select your trade rumour of choice).
Maloney’s message was, if Turris intended to play hockey in North America this season, he needed to sign with them - and he needed to do it before Dec. 1, otherwise he would be ineligible to play in the league until next season. Turris ultimately capitulated and agreed to a two-year contract, worth $1.4-million per season - about right for him, considering his limited NHL success, but nowhere near the kind of dollars he was looking for (James van Riemsdyk numbers, in the $4-million per season range).
Turris showed up and has accomplished little so far (zero points in six games), par for the course considering how far behind the rest of the league he is, conditioning-wise. Think about this: Jarome Iginla (injury) and Drew Doughty (contract issues) also missed training camp and were miles behind the rest of the league in the first month; and they are elite NHLers, Canadian Olympians. What chance did Turris have of a smooth integration? Zero.
So don’t read too much into his negligible stats in the early going.
However, Turris has been a healthy scratch for the past two Coyotes games and with the NHL’s Dec. 19 Christmas roster freeze approaching, the expectation is that the Coyotes would try to move his rights before the weekend is out. Maloney has been around long enough to understand that there’s nothing like a deadline, any kind of deadline, to whip NHL GMs into a frenzy.
You’d have to think that quietly and behind the scenes, the Coyotes told Turris that if he signed this year and enough time passed - to when it becomes clear that the marriage between him and the organization is irrevocably shattered - then they would try to find him a home elsewhere.
That’s what is happening now, and accounts for Turris’s popularity on social media. Just about every Canadian team, except for Winnipeg and Montreal, has been linked to him and this is what Maloney’s peers are evaluating at the moment:
First, they need to dismiss Turris’s recent play, because he hasn’t caught up to the pace of the NHL season as yet. Then they need to evaluate how little he’s done in his first three NHL seasons against the potential that made him the third overall choice in 2007, behind Van Riemsdyk and Patrick Kane.
Turris is just 22. He recognized early on that the fit wasn’t right in Phoenix (where coach Dave Tippett is no different than his peers, demanding accountability at both ends of the ice).
But if everyone can remember what excited them about Turris’s potential four-and-a-half years ago - and factor in that he is physically more mature now than he was then - then they’ll have interest.
What Maloney has going for him is the systemic conceit around the league, where so many teams are convinced that a change of scenery, and specifically, a change to their scenery and to their methods and their coaching staff, can turn a player around.
Sometimes, it happens too. Look at how Alexander Steen blossomed away from Toronto. Look at how Joffrey Lupul blossomed in Toronto. Someone will take a chance on Turris and the price will be either a first-round draft choice or a prospect likely taken in the first round. It is time for the Coyotes to turn the page, land an asset, and permit Turris to start fresh somewhere else. Hey, you gotta be pretty desperate for a change if you want to get out of Phoenix in mid-December.