Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney doesn’t call what his team is enduring a “rebuild.”
He calls it a “reset.”
Rebuilds tear things down, and it takes years and years to build them back up. Resets are more of a quick push, even if the reboot also takes some time to take hold.
Maloney has traded away his two top scorers in the last two days in Antoine Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks and Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers. He’s amassed two first-round picks, a solid defensive prospect in Klas Dahlbeck and a blue-chip offensive prospect in Anthony Duclair. Combined with a high lottery pick for his team's struggles, and the Coyotes are in a potentially great position.
“It fast-tracks us back to respectability,” he said. “The one benefit of having such a miserable season is that there’s a pretty big reward being a bad team this season, at the top of the draft. We know that.”
The top of the draft, of course, features both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, two can’t-miss prospects that could play in the NHL next season. But Maloney also has Max Domi as a budding star in his system, Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the back end and some other young players that could quickly form a foundation in the next few years.
“Our fans have hung in with us through thick and thin. We’re going to need for them to hang with us a little while longer,” he said.
So had Yandle, a career Coyote, who was sent to the Rangers with defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick in 2016 in exchange for defenseman John Moore, Duclair, a (lottery-protected) first-round draft pick in 2016 and a second-round pick in 2015.
The talks began with Maloney expressing an interest in some of the Rangers’ assets in a discussion with Glen Sather last week in New York. Sather then called Maloney on Saturday and made an aggressive bid for Yandle by including Duclair, Domi’s linemate in world juniors.
“Where we’re going in the reset, it’s hard to find top young skilled players. You have to give to get,” said Maloney.
Part of the give: Retaining 50 percent of Yandle’s salary for this year and next, which was an eye-opener for anyone that recalls the Coyotes’ financial troubles in the last few seasons.
But Maloney said with strong new ownership come opportunities like this. To get Duclair, he needed to trade Yandle; for the Rangers to accept him, the Coyotes had to retain salary for cap purposes.
“That’s the prime example why you have to have stable ownership that understands what we’re doing,” said Maloney. “We would not be doing this if it were a 33-year-old winger.”
He said both teams make out well in the deal. Specifically, he hopes the defenseman helps his friend Sather win the Stanley Cup that eluded his team last June.
“I think he could be the final piece of a Stanley Cup winning team,” said Maloney of the Rangers and Yandle.
He ticked off some of the other defensemen the Rangers have, like Dan Boyle and Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh.
“Wow. That is dynamic. I hope it works for him. I hope they run and win a Cup this year," he said.
"And then have a little off year, because we have their pick next year."
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