With the Feb. 29 NHL trade deadline approaching, the Arizona Coyotes are currently just shy of a playoff spot.
It’s a position that has Coyotes general manager Don Maloney figuring out if the team will be buyers for a playoff push or sellers, something that could be cleared up following a stretch of games with some of the top teams in both the Western and Eastern conferences.
“We are not going to be doing a major purge like we did last year — at all,” Maloney said as he joined Doug and Wolf Wednesday morning as part of Newsmakers Week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Entering Wednesday, the Coyotes (26-24-6) are four points shy of a playoff spot in the Western Conference behind Nashville and Colorado and seven points shy of third place in the Pacific Division.
“We want to continue to be competitive and find a way to get to the playoffs,” Maloney said. “If things don’t go well in the next couple of weeks, maybe there’s a shift to build a little more for the future. Time will tell.”
One Coyote whose name will surely come up in trade rumors is left wing Mikkel Boedker. Boedker will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and talks between he and the team have been ongoing. Maloney wouldn’t comment on the negotiations, other than to say that Boedker has been a good player for the Coyotes.
“We continue to see if there is something that is attractive for him to stay with us or if not, is there something in the market place that makes us better,” Maloney said. “It may be keeping Mikkel Boedker after the deadline to help us get to the playoffs. Everybody thinks he has to go or get signed and that’s not always black and white. Because of where we are, we are right there on the cusp of being a playoff team.”
If the Coyotes do make some moves in the coming weeks, Maloney said they would not include selling off the team’s emerging talent in order to chase the playoffs this year. Included among the players he has no interest in parting with are current Coyotes Max Domi and Anthony Duclair as well as future players including last year’s third pick in the NHL draft, Dylan Strome, along with Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland.
“We have 10 or 12 players deep that are legitimate NHL potential top-line players,” Maloney said. “We have had a lot of years where we try to scrape by and live for today. Now when you look at it, we can be legit. We have a great pool of young talent. We have two first-round picks in this year’s draft and I think that’s where (coach Dave Tippett) can get excited about.”
It’s a far cry for an organization with its fair share of problems over the last six years. Whether it was ownership troubles or a lack of talent, for the most part it seemed as if the Coyotes were always fighting an uphill battle.
“We appreciate the patience that our fans have had, but that patience is going to be rewarded,” Maloney said. “If you like what you are seeing out of Max Domi, if you like what you are seeing out of Anthony Duclair, if you like the speed that they are playing with, that’s the tip of the iceberg. You can get excited about two or three years down the road. I know it’s not going to help us (Thursday) night against Dallas, but that’s what’s coming here. If we can just hang around it and we have a great staff and a great coach, there’s some great years ahead for us.”