July 1, 2004
© The Arizona Republic
Tyson Nash avoided what promises to be a very atypical NHL free-agent signing period Wednesday by agreeing to a three-year deal with the Coyotes.
Financial terms of the contract were not released, but the pesky left wing, who made $1.295 million last season, said he settled for "a lot less" money because he valued the length of the contract more, with a player lockout looming after the collective bargaining agreement expires Sept. 15.
"You never know what's going to happen and where we're all going to fit on the scale," Nash said. "I love it in Phoenix. I was willing to sacrifice (salary) to stay there."
Nash, 29, scored three goals, notched five assists and logged 110 penalty minutes in 69 games last season.
Many of the league's other free agents also are expected to seek multiyear contracts during this year's signing period, which begins today.
"You're not going to find free agents signing one-year deals," Coyotes General Manager Mike Barnett predicted. "Now that the market is so cloudy, term may be a determining factor and what makes a player say, 'I'll take your offer.' If somebody steps up and gives a player four years, and the dollars are even remotely in the range, the player might be thinking under the current environment, and the way it looks like it might go, that I'd better grab it now while it's on the table."
Meanwhile, Barnett said the Coyotes extended qualifying offers to the following players: goalie Brian Boucher, center Mike Comrie, center Jason Jaspers, right wing Mike Johnson, center Krys Kolanos, center Daymond Langkow, defenseman Derek Morris, left wing Ladislav Nagy and center Erik Westrum.
Right wing Ivan Novoseltsev, center Chris Ferraro, right wing Peter Ferraro, defenseman Todd Reirden, center Gary Shuchuk and defenseman Mike Wilson were not tendered qualifying offers.
Elsewhere, the Coyotes exercised the option on right wing Daniel Cleary's contract.
He'll be paid $450,000 next season, a raise of $50,000.
Barnett said negotiations with goalies Brent Johnson and Zac Bierk, and defenseman Bryan Helmer were ongoing.
This year's field of prominent unrestricted free agents is larger than usual because many teams structured their contracts with the impending lockout in mind.
The Coyotes, who missed the playoffs last season for the third time in the past four seasons, are eager to see the list of available players and have vowed to go shopping for help.
"We know the type of players we'd like to get if it makes sense financially," said Cliff Fletcher, the team's senior vice president of hockey operations. "But it might make sense to let things sort themselves out and see what happens to the marketplace."
Barnett did not disclose names of players the Coyotes might pursue, but did say, "Other than goaltending, we feel that we can improve at every position."
Signing a crease-clearing defenseman is a priority.
Richard Matvichuk of the Dallas Stars and Glen Wesley of the Carolina Hurricanes fit that role, and are expected to be available.