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Coyotes acquire Plotnikov, trade four minor league players

Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Sergei Plotnikov, center, of Russia, skates past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, left, to direct a shot on goalie Reto Berra, in the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Denver. The Penguins won 4-2. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


PITTSBURGH — The Coyotes opened the final day of NHL trading on Monday by sending minor-league forward Matthias Plachta and a conditional, seventh-round pick to Pittsburgh for left wing Sergei Plotnikov on Monday. Maloney said the pick is conditional on re-signing Plotnikov.

“He’s a player we talked about last summer when he was a free agent coming over,” coach Dave Tippett said. “(Coyotes consultant) Dave King watched him play in Russia when Dave coached there.

“He’s a hard up-and-down winger; not what you’d think as a Russian winger but (he) plays the heavy game, finishes checks, just a simple player. Dave King just thought that in North America if we could transform that game from over there to here he could be a decent player.”

Plotnikov, 25, came to Pittsburgh in the offseason after buying out the final year of his contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslav of the KHL. When the Penguins expressed interest in signing him, star center Evgeni Malkin played a major role by speaking to general manager Jim Rutherford and Plotnikov.

Plotinikov had just two assists in 32 games this season with the Penguins, but had been a healthy scratch since a Jan. 6 game against Chicago (20 games). A story in the Post-Gazette said Plotnikov fell out of favor once the team fired coach Mike Johnston in December and replaced him with Mike Sullivan.

Plotnikov’s English isn’t very good so his interview was two questions long on Monday. The Coyotes could use Viktor Tikhonov as a translator, having him serve in much the same role he did in Chicago with Artemi Panarin. Tikhonov is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday when it returns home, after leaving the club to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

Plotnikov’s two-way deal expires after this season. He is making $925,000 per general and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The Coyotes signed Plachta last summer and he was recalled once, but he never played a game for the team.

In a flurry of minor-league moves, the Coyotes also traded defenseman Corey Potter to Nashville in exchange for future considerations, and forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Dan O’Donoghue and defenseman James Melindy to Pittsburgh for forward Matia Marcantuoni.

The moves were made largely to give the Coyotes roster flexibility under the 50-contract limit for each organization. Arizona currently has 47 players under contract.

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