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COYOTES SHIFTING FOCUS

After signing several players, General Manager Don Maloney has started to turn his attention away from the UFA market.

Saturday, 07.05.2008 / 2:02 PM / Features
By Dave Vest
Confident the Coyotes have added needed depth to their blue line and toughness via the unrestricted free-agent market, General Manager Don Maloney and his staff have moved on to other issues, specifically re-signing a key restricted free agent and populating their American Hockey League affiliate’s roster.

“I think the big spurt is over for us,” Maloney said regarding more unrestricted free-agent signings. “We were able to sign defenseman David Hale (on Thursday). He’s a good player and we think his game is improving, so he kind of fills out the depth on our blue line for now, although we’re always looking to upgrade every day… Now, we need to get Daniel Carcillo signed. I don’t anticipate problems there, but we have to get that taken care of and I expect that to happen sooner rather than later.”

Daniel Carcillo
Carcillo notched 13 goals and 11 assists in 57 games last season, and led the NHL with 324 penalty minutes.

Maloney and his staff have been busy since what he called a “frenzied” unrestricted free-agent market opened on July 1. Topping the list of their signings are forward/tough guy Todd Fedoruk and defenseman Kurt Sauer.

“Sauer was the top guy on our list based on value and cost, and when I kind of got a sense as to where the market was going we acted quickly and we were able to get him signed to a relatively reasonable deal in this day and age,” Maloney said. “That helps because he’s a big player that can eat up some minutes and move the puck.”

In Fedoruk, the Coyotes are getting a physical player with underrated offensive skills.

“He’s kind of evolved from being a purely tough guy to being a player who can be tough, similar, to a degree, to Daniel Carcillo, only he’s 235 pounds and thick, and we can play him with some skill players,” Maloney said. “We envision him playing with Kyle Turris for a while or maybe playing him with Peter Mueller on a wing. He can drive the net, he’s a big wide
Kurt Sauer
presence at the net, and he’ll probably eat up more minutes and be more than just a guy who sits on the bench and you throw in there when things get a little dicey.”

Fedoruk and Brian McGrattan – who was acquired in a trade with Ottawa - were brought in to help Carcillo and others protect the young players.

 “What’s interesting is that at the end of the year when I talked to Shane Doan and Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris, I asked them if they thought we needed more toughness,” Maloney said. “All of them said ‘absolutely.’”

Meanwhile, the Coyotes have renewed their affiliation agreement with San Antonio of the AHL through 2010-11.

Having their top affiliate close to Phoenix is a luxury.

“Proximity is a challenge for a lot of the Western-based teams,” Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving said. “For instance, Anaheim’s affiliate this year will be in Des Moines, Iowa, but the past number of years it’s been in Portland, Maine, and just the logistics of getting a player from Maine to California on short notice is challenging. So, we like the geographic situation with San Antonio, we like their facilities and, most importantly, we like the relationship we have with the people who are in charge of running Spurs Sports Entertainment.”

Treliving suggested that a new affiliation deal with the team’s Central Hockey League club in Prescott Valley likely would come soon, too. That team - the Arizona Sundogs - won the CHL title last season.

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