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Will Kyle Turris get his chance in Phoenix?

9/6/2011

Most of the offseason contract news surrounding the NHL's top young players has focused on Shea Weber, Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty.

Weber and Stamkos re-signed with their respective teams in Nashville and Tampa Bay, while Doughty remains unsigned by the Los Angeles Kings, although the two sides appear closer now than earlier in the offseason.

Beyond the obvious, though, there is an interesting situation developing in Phoenix with underachieving prospect Kyle Turris.

Turris, the third overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, is at the end of his entry-level deal, but talks with the Coyotes have gone nowhere. Unless there is a seismic change in tenor between the two sides, it's hard to imagine he will be at camp when the Coyotes report for physicals in Glendale, Ariz., on Sept. 16. The team's first on-ice session is set for a day later.

In 131 NHL games spread mostly over two seasons, Turris has scored just 19 goals.

With the recent acquisition of veteran center Daymond Langkow, Turris now sits third on the team's depth chart (at best) behind Langkow and a healthy Martin Hanzal.

Still, league sources told ESPN.com that Turris is looking for a three-year deal worth an average of slightly more than $4 million annually or a two-year deal worth slightly more than $3 million. Those numbers would put Turris in the same high-rent district as James van Riemsdyk, who recently signed a six-year extension with the Philadelphia Flyers worth an average of $4.25 million. Van Riemsdyk is another player from that talent-rich 2007 draft class; he was the second overall pick behind No. 1 selection Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.

While van Riemsdyk perhaps developed at a slower pace than Kane, who won rookie of the year honors and scored the Cup-clinching goal in Chicago's 2009-10 championship run, he has shown steady signs of evolution as a top young player. Van Riemsdyk scored 21 goals last season and was the Flyers' best forward in the playoffs (seven goals in 11 games).

While some raised eyebrows at the term and dollar van Riemsdyk received, it was a gamble by Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren based on recently returns. The team's decision to trade proven forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter was based in part on the belief that van Riemsdyk has arrived.

Another young player from that draft class who recently received a new deal is 2010-11 rookie of the year nominee Logan Couture, who signed a two-year extension at $2.875 million annually, a price tag that is generally considered a bargain for the San Jose Sharks.

Couture, also a center, played 25 games in 2009-10 and had just five goals in a minor role for the Sharks. But last season, he jumped up the depth chart and might have been the team's best forward throughout the regular season (32 goals, second among all NHL rookies). He added 14 points in 18 postseason games for the Sharks.

Can Turris, who scored 24 goals in the American Hockey League in 2009-10, expect a similar blossoming this season? Or next? Perhaps.

But one thing appears clear: the cash-strapped Phoenix Coyotes will not pay the kind of dollars Turris is demanding, and if the stalemate continues, he will remain on the sidelines when training camp starts.

Turris' agent, Kurt Overhardt, told ESPN.com on Tuesday he doesn't discuss numbers with the media.

"Never have, never will," he said. "There's plenty of time left [to get a deal done]."

It's an interesting and some would say pivotal season for Turris and the Coyotes. It's far too early to label Turris a bust, although his development pales in comparison to his peers. And the Coyotes, still without an owner, face another season of uncertainty in Glendale and will ice a team that is going to throw even more responsibility at its young talent.

Another Coyotes prospect, Mikkel Boedker, recently signed a two-year deal with an average cap hit of $1.1 million. The speedy forward will get an opportunity this season to prove he is worthy of being the eighth overall pick in 2008.

The question that remains unanswered is whether Turris will get the same opportunity to prove his worth.