Center of Attention: Looking at Da Costa and an Alternative Solution

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While it was announced yesterday that Mika Zibanejad would be returned to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League, Peter Regin has decided to forgo surgery on his injured shoulder and instead, he will focus on rehabilitation that could have him back in the Senators lineup in six to eight weeks.

The absence of both players won’t necessarily challenge Ottawa’s depth at center. With Jason Spezza, Zack Smith, Stephane Da Costa, Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka on the NHL roster and AHL superstar Corey Locke already in the system, the organization’s depth won’t necessarily be challenged. Instead, like any rebuilding organization, it’s a case of having too many bodies and not enough talent.

Obviously it’s a fantastic opportunity for a skilled, and albeit inexperienced, player like Da Costa – especially since he was starting to receive attention and scorn for his lack of production and +/- rating of – 7. Naturally, this negative attention completely ignores the fact that of late, his offensive skills have been negated while he has played fourth line minutes (averaging 11:07 TOI/G) with fourth line ‘talent’ or that Ottawa’s goaltenders have a combined .750 SV% while he’s on the ice at even-strength. But, that kind of analysis doesn’t lend itself to the pitchforks and torches crowd.

Whether Da Costa does anything with this ice-time remains to be seen but at least he’s receiving the minutes and linemates necessary to properly evaluate and (hopefully) develop him as a player. If he’s not ready or good enough for a prominent role on this team, it may be time to look outside the organization for an alternative option…

… Like Kyle Turris.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Turris’ agent Kurt Overhardt has publically acknowledged that his client has asked to be dealt and that it has nothing to do with money. (As an aside, if it’s not about money, who would benefit most by leaking false reports about the salary demands and thereby undermining the bargaining position of the player? Hmmm….)

Getting him out of Phoenix could prove to be difficult however, especially with GM Don Maloney taking a hard line stance.

The CBA gives us certain rights to Turris and we are exercising our rights,” Maloney told ESPN.com in an email Thursday. “There will be a point in the future Turris will have the right to decide who he wants to play for and how much he will accept.

He is not at this stage, given his age and experience. If he wants to play in the NHL this season, he will re-sign with us. We will not trade his rights under any circumstances and are prepared to live with the consequences if he decides to sit out this, and future, seasons.”

Not trading Turris certainly fits with their modus operandi of giving the once-highly touted prospect and third overall pick in 2007 as little ice-time as possible. Frankly, Maloney’s statement reeks of posturing in hopes that another organization will pony up an offer that he can’t refuse.

For an organization that desperately clings to being competitive and clearly has a bias towards short-term success, it’s hard to envision them bringing Turris back into the fold when he has clearly has no interest in returning to the organization or playing a limited role under Dave Tippett. Nor does it make any sense to bring a potential malcontent into the dressing room.

No, if the club has any pretense of maintaining a competitive, it’s in their best interests to move Turris well before the December 1st deadline (according to the CBA, if Turris isn’t signed by Dec. 1, he is ineligible to play this season) to bring back assets that can help their team now. The longer the organization holds onto the player, the longer he’ll be removed from playing in an actual game and the more his trade value will deteriorate.

It’s a concept that’s not lost on Turris’ agent…

“I know that the Coyotes’ organization can benefit significantly by moving this asset,” Overhardt said. “As a Group 2 free agent and speaking to several teams — which I won’t name — I know that there’s a number of clubs that have put forth significant offers to the Coyotes’ organization which include valuable assets which would benefit Phoenix.”

Free Turris.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=WX2OKcodUOw

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