- Craig Custance
PITTSBURGH -- Rick Nash remains the big prize on the trade market, but he also comes with the biggest price tag, making a potential deal a complicated one. As of Friday afternoon, nothing was close.
According to an NHL source, the Coyotes aren't actively shopping Yandle, but they are taking calls on him. Ideally, they'd like a young franchise center in return.
"Don [Maloney] has been looking for a center," another NHL source said. "He has young D prospects. To get a guy he wants, he has to give up something of value."
Yandle has plenty of value. He's a defenseman you can count on for at least 10 goals and 40 points per season and is locked up through the 2015-16 season at a reasonable $5.25 million per year.
The reason the Coyotes would consider moving him is because they're loaded with young talent on defense. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a future star and went from watching the playoffs two seasons ago to being a key member of a Coyotes team that advanced to the Western Conference finals. He played more than 25 minutes per game during the playoffs.
The organization is hopeful that David Rundblad, acquired in the Kyle Turris deal, can show similar growth next year. They also will find room for 6-foot-4 defenseman Max Goncharov, who has one year left on his contract and is a threat to eventually leave for Russia if he isn't given a chance to play in the NHL next season. Maloney said he also likes the potential shown by Chris Summers, a first-round pick in 2006.
"He showed some real promise as a defensive shutdown player," Maloney said during a recent conversation.
They also haven't ruled out the notion that Brandon Gormley will seize a roster spot in training camp.
"He's still young and it is going to be about strength for him," Maloney said. "I know his game. That's the kind of game [Dave Tippett] is going to like. Just that efficient, reliable, steady guy."
"That's a lot of young people. There's only a certain amount of spots," he said.
If Staal's contract extended beyond next year, a deal between Pittsburgh and Phoenix built around Staal and Yandle would make perfect sense. But it may be too much risk to trade a franchise defenseman for a player who could leave after one season. There will be no shortage of interest in Yandle if the Coyotes decide to go that route. But there are also other solutions to the Coyotes' logjam on defense.
"Maybe there's a way to move a young defenseman or two for a young forward or two," Maloney suggested. "I just know we can't go back. You have to continue to grow."
Howson said his priority was adding an NHL goalie this weekend, and he can check that off his list. Despite having Steve Mason under contract, Howson hasn't ruled out adding another goalie, but is content going into the season with Mason and Bobrovsky competing for playing time.
"Now we have two NHL goalies who have a chance to both be No. 1 goalies," he said. "We're going to see how it plays out."
Howson fielded a couple of more phone calls Thursday night regarding the possibility of trading the No. 2 pick, and said any possible deal hinges on Edmonton's choice with the No. 1 overall pick.
If the Blue Jackets trade down, it likely would be a deal that includes other draft picks, rather than players.
• When I spoke with Staal's agent, Paul Krepelka, on Thursday, he was getting ready to board a plane to Thunder Bay for Staal's wedding Friday night. He offered up the standard line regarding Staal ("He's not prepared to enter into a contract extension at this time.") and then joked that his cell phone would be off for the next couple of days to enjoy the wedding. Busy times right now in the Staal family.
• As of early Friday afternoon, there wasn't anything close regarding a possible trade for Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier. Outside of Roberto Luongo, he's the next best goalie available, but there aren't too many teams left searching for a starting goalie.