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April 22, 2018
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Free Agent Roundup: Coyotes Howl After Signing Amonte

The Phoenix Coyotes entered the offseason with a reputation for working hard and playing solid defense. The team didn't have a reputation for scoring goals, however.

It does now.

High-scoring free agent Tony Amonte signed a four-year deal with the Coyotes Friday for a reported $24 million.

Check It Out

The Coyotes seemed to come out of nowhere in the Amonte sweepstakes. The Rangers and Islanders looked to be the front-runners. The Dogs didn't approach Amonte until a week ago. After the initial call, Wayne Gretzky smooth-talked Amonte into joining his team. A big signing bonus didn't hurt, either.

By his own standards, Amonte had a poor season last year, scoring just 27 goals in 82 games (the fifth consecutive year he's played all 82 games in a season). That wasn't what Amonte had in mind when he entered the final year of his contract with the Blackhawks. That might have hurt interest in the speedy winger, making Billy Guerin look like the more attractive free agent. The Dallas Stars obviously thought so, as they gave Guerin a $90 million contract and then added Scott Young for more depth on the wing.

But Amonte should flourish in Phoenix. Amonte proved in the past that he could score with little help in the offensive zone. He will have to do the same in Phoenix. Outside of little man Daniel Briere and Daymond Langkow, the Coyotes have little to offer offensively.

Amonte, however, adds a new dimension to the Phoenix power play. With intelligent point men like Teppo Numminen, Danny Markov and Paul Mara, Amonte will get plenty of chances to crank up his shot. And his presence should open up more ice for Briere to work his magic.

But there are several other factors that could give the Coyotes an added boost. The first is Krystofer Kolanos. The relative unknown scored 11 goals and 22 points in 57 games last season. Phoenix hopes he can offer even more in his sophomore campaign. Also coming back are Landon Wilson, who looks to rebound from an injury-riddled year, Mike Johnson and Ladislav Nagy. Any one of these players has a chance to score 25 goals, although getting that kind of production out of Johnson has become little more than a pipe dream.

So what about the two New York teams that were in hot pursuit of Amonte? What is their next move? There isn't much left on the free agent front, so they might have to improve via a trade. Wow, imagine that, these GMs might have to earn their paychecks the old-fashioned way. I'm not sure they remember how to do it…

If they insist on signing free agents, here are the top guys still out there:

  • Theo Fleury: The Coyotes were interested in Fleury at one point, and they still might be if the price is right. If Gretzky can convince Amonte to join the Dog Side, anything is possible. Don't look for Fleury to re-join the Rangers. It seems like his days with the Blueshirts are over. And I'm not sure Mike Milbury can put up with a loose canon like Fleury on Long Island.
  • Martin Rucinsky: The Rangers probably will try to re-sign Rucinsky, who scored 13 points in 15 games after being acquired from Dallas.
  • Andrew Cassels: Neither the Rangers nor Islanders are looking for a center.
  • Ulf Dahlen: The hard-working Swede could be a nice fit on either team. The Rangers love giving out big contracts to overpriced veterans soon to be washed up.
  • Dimitri Khristich: See Ulf Dahlen, except with not as much talent.

If the Rangers make any moves, it probably will include dumping Petr Nedved. The underachieving center has worn out his welcome with yet another team. The Islanders might also have to part with a player, perhaps a defenseman, if they want to pick up another pricey free agent.

Domi's A Momma's Boy
Want to know why Tie Domi re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs? His mother made him do it.

Domi said he re-signed with the Leafs for three years at just under $2 million per season instead of joining another squad because he wanted to remain close to his mom. You know what? We think that's cool. Way to go, Tie. We always knew you had a big heart. And you showed us just how much more of a man you are than Curtis Joseph, who flew the coop for a "better" chance to win the Stanley Cup.

"If I could have just one last wish (sob), if I don't win the Cup in Detroit (sob, sob), I hope Toronto does (sob, cry sob)…"

Give us a break, CuJo. If you loved Toronto that much, you should have stayed there and tried to win a Cup with the team that put its trust in you.

Domi had offers from at least four other teams. Besides his situation with his mother, Domi also received a visit from captain Mats Sundin, who flew to Toronto last week to plead for the enforcer's return. Domi said Sundin minced few words when telling his what he thought No. 28 should do: "He told me to just hurry up and sign the goddamn thing."

That's an outstanding move by the Big Swede. It was reported that Domi also was asked to come back by Bryan McCabe, Gary Roberts and Alexander Mogilny. That's another reason why the Toronto organization is a class act.

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