January 7, 2013

Pirates in holding pattern, waiting for roster changes

It’s too soon to know how many players will get promoted, but at least a few will head to Phoenix.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Phoenix Coyotes, the NHL parent of the Portland Pirates, are still waiting to learn about the details following the end of the NHL lockout before calling players up from its AHL affiliate.

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson, regarded as one of the NHL’s top young defensemen last season, is expected to leave the Portland Pirates and rejoin the Phoenix Coyotes.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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“They didn’t get this done until 5 o’clock (Sunday)  morning,” Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said. “They just said ‘We got a deal done. Stay tuned.’ “

The 113-day labor dispute ended early Sunday morning when representatives of NHL reached tentative agreement with representatives of National Hockey League Players Association on the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The new agreement, which replaces an eight-year pact that ran out Sept. 15,  still must be ratified by the 30 team owners and approximately 750  players before an abbreviated NHL season can start.

Treliving, who directs the hockey operations side of the Pirates, said the NHL team needs to know when the opening day of the season is before it can open training camp and call players up from the Pirates, in their second season as the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate.

“What it means for the short term in terms of training camp and then long term in terms of guys who are coming up is what we’re trying to figure out, right now,” he said.

Treliving said defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who spent the previous 1 1⁄2 seasons in the NHL with the Coyotes, will be one of the first players called up.

“Obviously, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is coming back to Phoenix,” Treliving said. “Obviously, there’s some guys who have played really, really well (for Portland), but right now we’re trying to get a handle on when this camp opens. What are the rules? How long is camp? We haven’t got everything yet.”

Treliving said he wasn’t sure how many players from Portland will ultimately be called up by the Coyotes.

“You can carry 23 players, but we haven’t really done that in the past,” he said.

As of Sunday, the Phoenix roster included 20 players – 13 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies.

When Ekman-Larsson is added to the list, that leaves room for no more than two more players, perhaps another defenseman and a forward, but there may a temporary need for an additional forward.

Raffi Torres, a veteran left wing, still has eight games left to serve on the 21-game suspension he received after a hit to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during the opening round of last spring’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We need to know if the length of that suspension will be adjusted,” Treliving said. “Now that the length of the regular season has been shortened you would think there would be some adjustment.”

Normally, the NHL plays a regular-season schedule of 82 games. Because of the lockout, the schedule is expected to be shortened to 48 or 50 games.

The Pirates, winners of 10 of their last 12 games, currently lead the AHL’s Atlantic Division with a 20-12-1-1 record.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

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