The first domino in the Coyotes’ pivotal offseason is set to fall. And it appears it will fall in the right direction. Multiple sources have confirmed that the NHL and team are finalizing a new contract for general manager Don Maloney. The terms of the deal are not yet known, nor is a timeline for an announcement. Maloney’s contract was set to expire on June 30, and it was originally thought that he would not receive a new deal until the franchise's current owner, the NHL, had found a new owner. But the league, recognizing the importance of having a general manager for the upcoming NHL Draft, free agency and myriad other reasons, took care of one very important order of business. The next step, sources say, is to work out a deal with coach Dave Tippett, whose contract also expires on June 30, before turning their attention to negotiations with goalie Mike Smith, who is believed to be asking for a long-term contract with an annual payment between $6 million and $7 million. Maloney was sure to have some suitors if he became available on July 1. Not only have he and Tippett guided the franchise to its three highest point totals in its 33-year history as well as its deepest playoff run, they’ve done it on a shoestring budget with a dearth of top-end scoring talent. It’s unknown what specific assurances Maloney has received that he will have more money to spend on the open market, but sources have said every ownership group currently in the mix has vowed to increase payroll enough to make the team competitive. Neither Maloney nor Tippett expects the Coyotes to suddenly leap into the top half of the league’s payroll, but “we can’t continue to operate under these circumstances,” Maloney said in a press conference after the season ended.