The future is the NHL Draft. The Coyotes are putting stock in that by stocking up on picks.
General Manager Bill Armstrong said, Saturday afternoon: "Rebuild. Refresh. Retool."
Armstrong pulled the trigger on a pair of trades Saturday, shortly before the league-wide roster freeze ahead of the Seattle Kraken's NHL Expansion Draft.
The Coyotes acquired four draft picks in the process, a second-round pick in this year's draft; two second-round picks in the 2022 draft, and a third-round pick in the 2022 draft.
Arizona now owns seven selections in the 2021 NHL Draft, this Friday (Round 1) and Saturday (Rounds 2-7) in a virtual setting, broadcast on ESPN2 and NHL Network.
The Coyotes currently have a combined 15 picks in the next two drafts.
Armstrong emphasized the need to obtain assets -- draft picks and future prospects -- when addressing Saturday's moves. The Coyotes did not select until the fourth round of last year's draft and gained the rights to just four prospects in rounds five through seven.
"Our main goal, as it has been for the majority of the year, is to really stock the shelves," Armstrong said. "We did that because we didn't give up star players or major assets to acquire what we did (Saturday)."
The Coyotes received goalie Josef Kořenář and a 2022 second-round draft pick from the San Jose Sharks in the first trade. They moved goalie Adin Hill and surrendered a 2022 seventh-round pick.
Though there may be some reluctance associated with losing Hill, the Coyotes maximized his value. If Hill had not been dealt, he likely would have been selected by the Seattle Kraken during the Expansion Draft Wednesday. The Coyotes had firm plans to protect Darcy Kuemper with their lone goalie slot on the Expansion Draft Protection List, which would have left the sought-after Hill exposed.
A second-round pick is always valuable, especially in a 2022 NHL Draft expected to be saturated with talent.
"We really like Adin Hill," Armstrong said. "He's got great potential. But there was a really good offer for us. We're in a particular situation where we're trying to move ahead with picks and prospects, and at this time, we had to make that trade. It allowed us to gain some of our picks back. That was important. It looks like it's going to be a really, really strong draft (in 2022). I like the thought process of us getting that pick for next year."
In the second trade, the Coyotes received forward Andrew Ladd and three draft picks from the New York Islanders in exchange for future considerations. The draft picks are: a 2021 second-round pick; a 2022 conditional second-round pick and a 2023 conditional third-round pick.
The conditions are: Coyotes will receive the better of the two 2022 second-round picks the Islanders currently hold (NYI, COL); the third-round pick will be valid if Ladd plays at least one game in 2022-23.
The Coyotes also will be responsible for Ladd's cap hit of $5.5 million the next two seasons.
"Because of our cap, we can take in some money for decent players," Armstrong said. "They're still good NHL players, but at the same time we can accumulate picks. So, I think that's a strength that we have right now, and we have to take advantage of that. I believe we did today."
Ladd, 35, has won two Stanley Cups and is fifty games shy of the 1,000 NHL games milestone. The veteran forward has racked up 538 points over the course of his career (249G, 289A).
"With (André Tourigny) coming in the door and preaching the new culture that he wants to implement, I think Andrew Ladd can be a driver of that for us," Armstrong said. "I think he's really going to help our culture. He's going to help our leadership. And as far as playing-wise, he's got to go out there and earn it. There are a lot of doubters, but in my conversations with him, he says he's really training hard. He believes he's an NHL player, and that he can have an impact for us going into our lineup next year."
Armstrong believes the Coyotes became stronger over the weekend, even if it doesn't seem very glamorous.
"We've really, really put ourselves in good shape (with acquiring draft picks), and now we've got the opportunity to pick players," Armstrong said. "During the pandemic, ownership invested in putting a really good amateur scouting staff together. A lot of teams were on the bench (this year), but we were out scouting. It wasn't easy in the pandemic, but we did what we could. I think it's going to pay dividends for us at the draft."