Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/11/12
As the Coyotes threw shot after shot at New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to no avail in Tuesdays 2-1 shootout loss at Madison Square Garden, you couldnt help thinking: Gosh, if they only had a little more offense. Yeah. Don Maloney gets that a lot. Earlier in the season, the Coyotes general manger surprised some people by suggesting his first personnel move might be to add depth along the blue line. But the progress of young blue-liners Oliver Ekman-Larsson and David Schlemko might have altered that thinking. The more important factor, however, is the Coyotes 2.49 goals per game, which ranks them 24th in the 30-team NHL. If the Coyotes are going to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season, theyre going to need more scoring punch. Goalie Mike Smith has resumed his solid play after a mini-slump, and Phoenix is ninth in the league in goals against per game (2.51). All thats missing is a little more offense. The trade deadline is Feb. 27, about 6 weeks away. But the Coyotes are not in a rush to make any moves. Were probably a month away from determining what we need, Maloney said. Why? Because its been difficult to assess those needs with centers Martin Hanzal and Boyd Gordon out of the lineup due to injuries. Those two guys stabilize our lines and give us depth, coach Dave Tippett said. They touch the game in so many ways, Maloney added. Gordon returned to the lineup in New York, playing just over 12 minutes as he rounds back into shape. Hanzal didnt make this three-game trip, but the Coyotes hope to have him back when they return. Once he returns, Maloney said he will be able to better assess the teams shopping list. Clearly, the Coyotes would like to add a center. They wanted one in the off-season, but elite centers arent usually available unless theyre at the end of their career. Dont be fooled by Anaheim general manager Bill Murrays saber rattling, either. Ryan Getzlaf isnt going anywhere. Hes too young, his contract is too reasonable, and hed leave a gaping hole in the middle of the Ducks lineup. Murray was just sending a shot across the bow of his underperforming team when he said everyone on the roster outside Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu is available via trade. And if youre thinking about Blue Jackets star winger Rick Nash, consider this remark from Maloney about what hes willing to deal in a trade. If we're going to get into A-plus assets, it's going to be for a centerman who we can have around here for a few years, he said. The players on the market right now at that position are that older player thats toward the end of the line. We have some room in our budget to add something right now, but theres nothing out there to add. Theres a lot of talk, but little substance. Its a smoke screen. For a third straight season, Maloney said the NHL is placing no undue restrictions on what the Coyotes do around the trade deadline, despite the teams ongoing ownership limbo. He also said the NHL has never made the impending expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (Sept. 15) a factor in operations of team. But wanting to add a center and finding one are two different things. If all else fails, Coyotes fans can just replay that tussle between former Coyotes centers Danny Briere and Kyle Turris the other night. Briere was the center the Coyotes shouldnt have let go. Turris was the center on whom they misspent a No. 3 pick in the 2007 draft. It might have done Coyotes fans some cathartic good to watch Briere deliver blow after blow in what was scored a unanimous decision.
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