The future of the Phoenix Coyotes is more clouded than normal heading into this offseason because not only is the franchise still up for sale, but neither the coach nor the GM have a contract for next season. One of those things might be changing soon.
According to Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona, the Coyotes are getting close to signing GM Don Maloney to a new contract; they're in the final stages of negotiations.
This is a significant move for the franchise, even if it isn't necessarily telling about the future of the organization. It's kind of hard to prepare for the NHL Draft when the GM's contract runs out the day of the draft (June 30) and before free agency begins. It's kind of important to have somebody around to make those decisions. So even if Maloney wanted to see where the team will be and what kind of payroll restraints he might have, the Coyotes need a GM, and Maloney has been nothing but good for them.
Still, he'll keep an eye on the ownership situation because signing players to a franchise with an uncertain future is hard, and he would like to see an expanded payroll. Just because he has had some success operating at the bottom of the salary range doesn't mean it's been easy or is the way he'd like to operate.
"We can't continue to operate under these circumstances," Maloney said at the end of the season.
Maloney has helped build a team that, until this season, had made the postseason three straight years on a shoestring budget, including a run to the Western Conference finals in 2012. He was recognized for his efforts as the NHL's first GM of the Year in 2010 and was again a finalist last season.
If the deal for some reason isn't finished, Maloney would be a wanted man. His work in Phoenix has definitely not gone unnoticed.
There's also the matter of coach Dave Tippett's contract, which also runs out June 30. They can afford to take more time to decide on that because Tippett would like to have a better idea of what the future holds for the Coyotes and a coach isn't really necessary for a few more months yet, though I doubt Maloney would like to wait that long.