Friday, the Arizona Coyotes roster will undergo a significant change.
And no, we’re not talking about their new uniforms, which will be unveiled at the team’s draft party that evening.
The Coyotes currently hold the third pick in that night’s NHL Draft, and while they would like to be picking first or second, they’re in a good spot to get a quality player with that pick.
Of course, that does not mean that player will be a young rookie, as the possibility exists that the team could trade the pick.
In fact, TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie tweeted that Coyotes GM Don Maloney said there are two firm offers to trade the pick that give him “pause to consider.”
Wednesday, as a guest of Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Maloney elaborated on that idea.
“I really have three things right now that we’re mulling over, and they’re legitimately,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people kick tires. Today, somebody offered me a couple kind of later first-round picks for that pick at three, and those things are too far away from the quality of player that we could potentially get.”
Those three options, Maloney said, are trading down, trading outright (for good, young players who would fill some of the team’s needs), or using the selection for themselves.
“You weight that with what you could get with the third pick vs. trading down.”
Maloney said just prior to joining the radio show he had gotten out of a room where members of the organization had met for two hours going over the different scenarios the team could be looking at with regards to their pick.
“And you know guys, my experience, the best offer is going to be draft day, on the floor,” he said. “We’ll see who’s really serious. And if we can get a couple of these deals to be tweaked a little more to the Coyotes’ favor, then there is a chance we could trade that outright for younger players who could help us immediately.
“On the other hand, if we end up taking the pick and not doing anything, that’s fine too because we know we’re going to get a heck of a player.”
Centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the consensus top two prospects in the draft, are virtual locks to be taken by Edmonton and Buffalo with the first two picks. After them, the top prospects on the board appear to be centers Dylan Strome and Mitch Marner along with defensemen Ivan Provorov and Noah Hanifin.
Maloney had good things to say about the group his team has the chance to select from, saying there’s “lots of intrigue” there.
All could potentially help the Coyotes, if not this season then down the road. But Maloney, who noted the team has a need for a center, said if the pick is moved it will be for a young player who can help them win now.
After finishing with a 24-50-8 record and just 56 points, there is plenty of room to improve.
“Our goal is the next three to four years to become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender,” Maloney said. “So we are not doing anything short-term. So any of these deals we’re contemplating is not even to get a 26 or 27-year-old player that might give us a little bump. It’s really for a very young player that can fit into the Max Domi, (Oliver) Ekman-Larson age bracket, on either side of that.”
The team’s future, Maloney said, is just starting now with some of its younger talent starting to make its way up the minor league ranks, knocking on the door of being ready for the NHL.
“All that being said, we do want to be more competitive, we have to be more competitive, we intend to be more competitive and we will be more competitive next year,” he said. “And that means getting Shane (Doan) some more players to play with and around, and prop up our team.
“I’ve said it before, the team that ended the year is not the team you’re going to see in October come opening night in Arizona. We’re going to have (Martin) Hanzal back and (Mikkel) Boedker back and a revised Mike Smith, and then add certain pieces and bring some young people in on top of it, and now all of a sudden we’ll be fun to watch.”
So while the Coyotes would like to improve — and plan on doing just that — there are no designs on moving some of the younger talent and/or assets just to be a little more competitive this season.
“There’s no organizational pressure, ownership pressure to try and turn this thing around in a hurry, because quite frankly it never works,” Maloney said. “You’ll end up, you do something now that two years from now we’ll say ‘why did we not just be a little more patient and do the right thing here?’
“But, on the other hand, as I’ve said, if there’s a young player that is already in the league that can help us in a position of need, then we’ll look very seriously about it. Which we are doing.”
The Coyotes currently have eight selections over the course of the seven-round draft. Along with the third choice, the team is set to pick 30th, 32nd, 60th, 63rd, 81st, 123rd and 183rd.