Bill Armstrong's arrival in Arizona sees the new general manager inherit a unique set of challenges when it comes to shaping the Coyotes' roster, and it's going to require some creativity.
"It's an interesting roster, when you look at it, because what you have is you've got some really good younger players that are just coming into their own and at the same time you've got some older players that are still producing but they're creeping up in age," Armstrong said during an appearance on Hockey Central on Wednesday, six days after officially landing the gig.
Where Armstrong and his staff will need to get creative is in the asset-acquisition department.
"There's a little bit of a creative way that we have to go and acquire assets to stay in the game and make sure that we're still bringing players in -- whether it's college free agents, European free agents, or it's through the draft," he explained.
Earlier this year, the NHL ruled that the Coyotes were to forfeit two draft picks after the league found the team was in violation of the scouting combine testing policy during the 2019-20 season. Those picks (a second-round selection in the upcoming 2020 draft and 2021's first-rounder) no longer belong to the Coyotes, nor does the club's 2020 first-round selection -- that was sent to the New Jersey Devils along with a 2021 third-round pick earlier this season in the Taylor Hall trade. Between trades and the league's penalty, the Coyotes aren't slated to make a selection until the fourth round of this year's draft, and don't have a first-round pick until 2022.
"There's no excuses. I knew it before I took the job. We have to find a way to produce players through different avenues. So, we'll be talking about that in the next few days," said Armstrong, who spent the past 16 years with the St. Louis Blues organization, first as an amateur scout before being promoted to director of amateur scouting in 2010, and then adding the title of assistant GM in 2018.
An agreement with the Blues prevents Armstrong from being permitted to run the Coyotes draft this fall -- Steve Sullivan, who was named interim GM upon the abrupt departure of former GM John Chayka, will run point on all of Arizona's picks alongside Scott Walker.
Armstong said there's "definitely some room to move" with some of the assets already on the roster, pointing to some of the club's expiring contracts as possible avenues to accrue draft capital. He did not mention any players specifically.
In this regard, Hall will be an interesting name to watch. With the elimination of the free agency negotiation window, it's likely teams could try to land some exclusive time with the pending UFA forward, similar to what we saw the Montreal Canadiens do with Joel Edmundson earlier this month.
"You've got to acquire some form of assets... We have to stay in the game," Armstrong said. "We have to find a way to bring players into this organization that are going to move us forward."