With the focus on re-tooling, the Arizona Coyotes have already begun selling before next month's NHL trade deadline. The organization believes the turnaround can be quick, so here are five things the Coyotes must do to rebuild:
1. Get value at the deadline
General manager Don Maloney already turned backup goaltender Devan Dubnyk into a third-round pick, and he has centre Antoine Vermette, winger Martin Erat and defenceman Milan Michalek to dangle as rentals too. Getting draft picks and/or prospects for those players and others, such as defenceman Keith Yandle, is crucial.
2. Draft high and draft well
Arizona hasn't drafted in the top 10 since 2009, a testament to the team's success amid ownership and financial uncertainty. But with this year's team bottoming out, it's essential to get a franchise building block, whether it's Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, Lawson Crouse or Dylan Strome. Later-round picks are also important.
3. Get more money to spend
The Coyotes' actual-salary payroll is the lowest in the NHL, and it's incumbent on new majority owner Andrew Barroway and the Canadian ownership group led by Anthony LeBlanc and George Gosbee to give Maloney at least a little bit more to work with. With the salary cap not going up much, the Coyotes may be able to poach other teams' players in deals.
4. Develop Domi
One of the reasons the Coyotes believe they can rebound quickly is a set of prospects led by Canadian world junior star Max Domi, who could play in the NHL this season and definitely next. Domi is key to an offensive revival, but developing defenceman Philip Samuelsson and forwards Henrik Samuelsson and Brendan Perlini will go a long way.
5. Get Smith back on track
Goaltender Mike Smith has a career-worst .888 save percentage, and his poor season is one reason why the Coyotes are 27th in the league. Smith was Canada's third goalie at the Sochi Games and can't be as bad as he is this year moving forward. With four years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of US$5.67 million, the Coyotes need Smith to be much better.
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