And while the draft itself only accomplished part of that, it seems general manager Don Maloney and company have a plan in place to build a contending Coyotes team in 2015-16.
After selecting highly touted CHL center Dylan Strome with the No. 3 overall pick, the Coyotes took five more forwards through the first five rounds of the draft. There was some speculation the team would instead elect to draft defenseman Noah Hanifin with the third pick, a move that would have given the Coyotes blue line a much-needed boost.
However, the team was also in need of a first-line center, and it would appear the Coyotes see that in Strome—whether that materializes this year or in 2016-17 and beyond. They also have Max Domi waiting in the wings, a high-ceiling player who is certainly giving himself the momentum to eventually make a run at a first-line role.
But, in wake of the draft, the team still has needs to be addressed.
First, there is a hole on defense. The Coyotes made a trade on Friday sending former first-round pick Sam Gagner to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenseman Nicklas Grossman and the contract of the retired Chris Pronger. The Flyers also receive a conditional fourth-round pick in 2016 or a third-round pick in 2017.
Aside from the financial reasons the trade was made (the transaction allows the Coyotes to come closer to the salary cap minimum), Grossman is a left-handed shot. The 30-year-old veteran represents the kind of presence the team is looking for, but he will likely have to skate on the third pair behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson because of his being a southpaw, as well as his *ahem* less than sterling possession numbers.
As of today, Michael Stone looks to be the guy to be on the top pairing with OEL, but it would benefit the Coyotes to go after a right-handed shot for some much-needed depth. There were rumors that the team was pursuing the Boston Bruins' Adam McQuaid on draft night, but a deal never materialized.
And then there's the issue of a backup goalie. The Coyotes only have Louis Domingue on their depth chart, and beyond Adin Hill—who was drafted on Friday at 76th overall—the team desperately needs someone to play behind Mike Smith, and there doesn't seem to be a clear cut favorite to land that job.
Coming into draft night, it seemed a deal with the Bruins would be perfect for both sides. There were multiple reports of Boston going hard after Arizona's No. 3 pick, and the Bruins are ripe with goaltending depth, especially following yesterday's deal with the Los Angeles Kings. In the deal, Boston added Martin Jones to a depth chart that already boasts Tuukka Rask, Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre.
Although, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, it appears Jones is on the move again.
Of course, as Bruins fans have lamented, Boston was not able to get anything done with the first-round picks it amassed whilst trading Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic on Thursday—but perhaps the Coyotes could still target a deal for one of the Bruins' goalies.
The rest of the team actually looks looks young and talented. The blue line will return Ekman-Larsson, Stone, Connor Murphy, Klas Dahlbeck, Andrew Campbell and prospects Brandan Gormley and Phillip Samuelsson.
Their overall forward depth was spiked with talent from the draft, as Strome, Nick Merkley, Christian Fischer, Brendan Warren, Jens Looke and Conor Garland join an already impressive prospect contingent including Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini and Christian Dvorak.
As far as pro-ready forwards, the Coyotes already boast a solid foundation. At center, the team expects Martin Hanzal and Kyle Chipchura to shore up the middle. On the wings, Mikkel Boedker, Shane Doan, Tobias Rieder and Lauri Korpikoski are slated to do same damage.
Overall, the team appears in fairly good shape. There is just some post-draft tinkering and maneuvering to be done, and the Coyotes might just be a dark horse in the Western Conference in 2015-16.