LAS VEGAS — As the owner of the pick that comes immediately after Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are selected at Friday’s draft, Don Maloney essentially controls how the dominoes will fall in the first round.
However, even the Arizona Coyotes general manager isn’t sure what to do with the No. 3 selection.
Had you spoken with him a week ago, he would have told you he was going to use it to take a player. But the appearance of two trade offers — one of them firm, which includes a lower pick in the first round — has forced Maloney to reconsider.
“There’s been so many different things kind of pushed my way of late I can honestly sit here and say I don’t know (what I’ll do),” he told Sportsnet on Tuesday. “There’s one team really aggressively trying to get No. 3, and we’d trade down a bit.
“I’ve had two offers outright for that pick.”
At this stage in the Coyotes rebuilding process Maloney is debating whether he would be better off acquiring a young player who is more ready than a prospect to contribute right away.
He also has to account the dust cloud of uncertainty that has been kicked up by the city of Glendale trying to void a lease agreement with the team. That is going to make it tough to woo free agents to the Coyotes.
Beyond McDavid and Eichel, this draft includes highly touted defencemen Noah Hanifan and Ivan Provorov. The Columbus Blue Jackets are believed to be among the teams kicking tires with Arizona to secure one of those blue-liners.
The Coyotes scouts believe this class goes 12 players deep and aren’t entirely convinced that they’ll be worse off for picking lower down.
“Who is to say: Three or four years from now it could be the player that’s picked at Nos. 10 or 12 that turns out to be the best of the bunch,” said Maloney.
Even with trade talks heating up, he expects his decision to go right down to the wire. In fact, it might not come before the Coyotes are on the clock after Edmonton and Buffalo kick things off.
“I think generally you get your best offer on the draft floor,” said Maloney. “That’s what I’ve found. Unless somebody really blows us over and needs an answer I think that’s generally how these things work.”
Maloney plans to be a busy guy in the coming weeks.
Next year’s salary cap floor was set at $52.8-million on Tuesday and that leaves the Coyotes with a little more than $18-million to spend to reach it. Rival NHL teams have wondered whether they’ll be able to do it, but Maloney isn’t concerned.
“People say that, but believe me, we’re going to have no problem getting to the floor,” he said. “We are going to bring in some players. It doesn’t take much if you add an experienced defencemen or two, and a forward or two.
“You’re at the floor and beyond.”