So far this summer the Coyotes have traded away the rights to a player who was never going to re-sign here, drafted a bunch of kids who may or may not ever make it to the NHL, re-signed their backup goaltender, and re-signed a player they bought out not so long ago. While all of the aforementioned moves are somewhat important they figure little into whether or not the upcoming 2011-12 season is a successful for the Valley's NHL franchise. Think of them as the appetizer of a meal.
Beginning this week, General Manager Don Maloney and his staff must finish to piecing together the main course, i.e. the roster for this coming season. The Coyotes only have 14 players currently signed that are likely to make the opening night roster. This means they likely need to sign 9 more players between now an training camp. Five of those spots are likely to be filled by guys who are the Coyotes own restricted free agents assuming no one tenders an offer sheet to Keith Yandle.
Yandle's deal is likely to be the lynchpin this off-season. How much he gets and how quickly he signs will play a large role in what GMDM is able to do to fill the holes in the roster. Those holes are fairly gaping at the moment. Of the five spots that will likely be need to be filled via free agency and/or trades, at least will likely be centers and another should be a starting goaltender. Who GMDM inks for those spots may determine whether or not the Coyotes return to the playoffs this coming season.
The biggest problem Maloney may have in filling out the roster is budgetary. While technically he's got 32 million dollars or so to spend cap space wise, his budget is likely 10 to 11 million dollars less than that figure. Can he once again find value in the market or is this the year when the Coyotes ownership issue finally takes an ugly toll on the roster?