What are your thoughts on the Coyotes' trades at the deadline?
Sarah McLellan: I don't think the moves executed at the deadline impacted the core of the team so looking at the return (two draft picks and a prospect), it was a smart decision by the organization to recoup some assets for players that weren't going to be with the team past this season (except maybe Raffi Torres, but there's still a chance he can choose to re-sign with the Coyotes as an unrestricted free agent this off-season). Matthew Lombardi and Steve Sullivan never really seemed to settle in with this group and find a niche. And since the team's play hasn't dropped it out of contention since the deadline, the seller approach seemed to improve the Coyotes.
Carl Putnam: GM Don Maloney made the right moves at the deadline. He traded spare part unrestricted free agents. At worst he received 3 draft picks which may not amount to anything. On the other hand, the Coyotes may find a Doug Gilmour in this year's third round and a Daniel Winnik in the seventh round next June. In addition, who knows if Brandon McMillian will be a dud or turn into the next Rob Klinkhammer. I'll take my chances on the picks and McMillan versus three guys who weren't going to be around next season and in Sullivan's case was barely noticeable this season.
Jordan Ellel: I believe I typed out my thoughts in fairly significant detail the day of the deadline and nothing that's really happened since has changed my mind. I don't feel that Raffi, Sully, or Lombo have been missed that badly and I like the energy that Conner and Brown brought to the line-up, even if they haven't continued to win games as they were.
Carl Pavlock: Given how the team was playing at the time, and the fact that it didn't look like we were going to make playoffs, still a very strong possibility, I have no problem with any of the trades, and I would have probably done similar moves. I was hoping for a little bit more for Torres, but a high third round pick isn't bad, and I doubted that we would be able to get much for Steve Sullivan.
Do you believe Phoenix will re-sign back-up goaltender Jason Labarbera in the off-season?
Sarah McLellan: I think this could depend on whether or not the Coyotes re-sign No.1 Mike Smith. If they keep Smith, I think we could see a younger backup - perhaps Chad Johnson if he's re-signed - or they might choose to work on a new deal with LaBarbera. But if the Coyotes aren't able to negotiate a contract with Smith and he walks in free agency, the Coyotes might decide to split duties between a No.1 and No.2 and look for an upgrade via free agency or a trade.
Carl Putnam: I really have no clue. My best guess is Labarbera's continued tenure in Phoenix may hinge on Smith's return. If Smith does return I could see them re-signing Chad Johnson to back him up next season. However, if Smith doesn't re-sign then Sarah's suggestion of a goalie platoon option may make it more likely Barbs is back. One significant factor in Labarbera's favor is Phoenix's young goalie prospects (Mark Visentin, Mike Lee, & Louis Domingue) are probably at least one more year away from being ready for an NHL debut.
Jordan Ellel: Depends on what he is asking and whether they feel comfortable having a guy like Chad Johnson filling the role instead. He's been great for the Coyotes in that role for the last several years, so I have no objections to that signing if they do it.
Carl Pavlock: I would say that there is a very good chance that they resign him for next year, if he is willing to accept a one year deal. The Coyotes have a lot of good goaltenders in the lower leagues but I'm not entirely sure that they are ready for the NHL. For example we got to see Chad Johnson over this past season and though he did play extremely well there are some aspects of his game that need to be cleaned up for the NHL level.
Who would your choice be for the Coyotes 'Hardest Working Player' award this season?
Sarah McLellan: Shane Doan. He had a slow start production-wise, but his effort and leadership have been second-to-none during the entire season. That's expected of a captain, but I don't think it's necessarily a given when the captain is 36-years-old. But Doan continues to set the standard for this team and based on what he's been able to do this season - that 11-shot, 13-hit game in Los Angeles was truly remarkable - that's not a bad thing for the Coyotes.
Carl Putnam: I narrowed my selection down to three choices; Boyd Gordon and the team's first defensive pairing, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek. All three are deserving of the award, but you can only choose one winner. While OEL and Z faced the toughest quality of competition of anyone on the team this season, they also had each other to lean on. Therefore, my selection for the Jukka Nieminen award would be Boyd Gordon.
Gordon has his shifts start in the offensive zone less than anyone else on the team (32.4%) save for current linemate Rob Klinkhammer, who has played in 25 fewer NHL games than Gordon has this season. When Coach Dave Tippett needs someone to win a tough defensive zone or penalty kill draw it is usually number fifteen he calls on. Gordon is currently ranked sixth in the NHL in faceoffs (59.6%) and has won 87 of the 156 draws he has taken on the penalty kill (55.8%). He's also chipped in with 4 goals and 9 assists this season. He also does a good job of staying out of the penalty box. He has the lowest number of penalty minutes (8) of any of the regulars on the roster all while playing in every single Coyotes game this season.
The fact the Coyotes brass didn't deal the center, a soon to be unrestricted free agent, at the trade deadline also speaks volumes. No surprise some teams around the league weren't happy they couldn't acquire Gordo. He suits this team like a form fitting glove.
Jordan Ellel: I would have to say Boyd Gordon. He just does all of the hard things on the ice and does that without complaint or seeming hesitation. For the role that he is forced into he makes the most of his talent, and that to me defines this award. Honorable mention to Derek Morris, who I think has been stellar this season after a very disappointing last campaign.
Carl Pavlock: I voted for Shane Doan, he really has stepped up this season, especially down the stretch. I think without him the team would be much lower in the standings than they are.
Mike Smith has been a bit 'testy' since coming back off his second extended absence due to injury this season. What are the odds he gets a roughing penalty by the end of the season?
Sarah McLellan: I wouldn't be surprised if he's leveled with a two-minute minor, but it's an unusual call on a goaltender so I doubt we'll see it happen. Most of these shoving matches around his crease have drawn quite the crowd. I don't think referees typically single out of the goalie for these altercations, but, really, anything is possible.
Carl Putnam: What Sarah said.
Jordan Ellel: Probably pretty high, especially if opponents continue to run the crease on him the way they have for 2 years now. The penalty call on Horcoff at the end of the Edmonton game was a welcome change from the way that referees usually call penalties around Smitty's crease. I don't mind Smitty taking a 2 minute roughing call to protect his crease area.
Carl Pavlock: Mike Smith has definitely become more protective of his crease and his trapezoid since returning which has lead to him getting into it more than a few times since returning. I think if people continue to crash into him and take too many liberties in the chaos in front of the net he will definitely respond in kind and someone will have to sit in the box for him.