'Doing cartwheels,' ex-Coyote begins with Marlies first
Nov. 29, 2006. 06:23 AM
There are those who believe that the newest Leaf property — scrappy winger Tyson Nash — is destined to play out the year with the AHL Toronto Marlies.
Nash is not among them.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be going to a team that wants you," Nash, acquired yesterday in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes, said in a phone interview. "I'm doing cartwheels.
"Hopefully, I'll get an opportunity to show what I can do. I talked to (Leafs general manager John) Ferguson. He told me: 'Pressure us to call you up.' That's what I plan on doing."
Ferguson solved his goaltending logjam, sending third-stringer Mikael Tellqvist to Phoenix for a fourth-round draft pick this summer as well as Nash, an agitator from the Darcy Tucker school of in-your-face yapping.
The 5-11, 191-pound Nash — who said the Coyotes reneged on a promise by sending him to the AHL before the start of the season — will give the Marlies some spark, but don't expect to see him play for the Leafs anytime soon.
"He'll come in, we'll see how he plays and we'll make an assessment," said Ferguson. "He's a hard-working, agitating, energy-type winger who can chip in offensively at that level to be a contributor."
Nash, who has a guaranteed one-way salary of $650,000 (all figures U.S.) a year, would have to clear re-entry waivers and the Leafs might not want to risk losing him. If another team claimed him, the Leafs would still be on the hook for paying half of Nash's remaining salary.
Nash, who is 31, has 27 goals, 37 assists in 374 career games with Phoenix and St. Louis, where he and Ferguson first crossed paths. But the statistic that Nash is best known for is his 673 penalty minutes.
Nash has played six NHL seasons, the last two with the Coyotes. He had six assists and did not score a goal in 50 games last year, when he missed 31 games with injuries, but his energetic style made him a fan favourite.
"I'm going down to the Marlies and I'm going to have to work my way back up," said Nash, who has six goals, six assists and 48 penalty minutes in 19 games with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL.
Defenceman Jay Harrison also cleared waivers, and was assigned to the Marlies as well. The 24-year-old appeared in five games with the Leafs this season, posting a minus-5 rating and six penalty minutes.
With Tellqvist's departure, the Leafs also clear a roster spot, although Ferguson said no other moves were imminent.
"This is more about getting a fourth-round pick for Mikael," said one NHL scout. "Tyson (Nash), in some place in time, he could help (the Leafs)."
The 27-year-old Tellqvist appeared in only one game with the Leafs this season, a 2-1 loss to New Jersey on Nov. 16.
He was 16-16-2 with the Leafs for his career with a 3.01 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
He lost his backup job to J.S. Aubin late last season after a horrible two games against Montreal in March that ended the Leafs' playoff drive.
The Coyotes have been struggling in net all year — with three goalies combining for a league-worst 3.83 goals-against average.
Tellqvist, who has a guaranteed $589,000 one-way salary, will be the team's fourth goalie this year. David Leneveu and Mike Morrison each had shots at backing up Joseph.
"We wish Mikael all the best," said Ferguson.