The company line regarding free agency hasn’t changed. “I think we’re going to be very careful with how aggressive we’ll be right out of the gates,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. But the Coyotes will be actively searching for help in free agency, which opens for business Friday at 9 a.m. Arizona time. They’re no longer under the league’s watch, with IceArizona poised to take over after the Glendale City Council approved a multi-million-dollar agreement that keeps the team at Jobing.com Arena, and the purse strings will loosen. That could transform the Coyotes into one of the more attractive suitors in free agency. “It’s a different animal,” Maloney said. “Now we have a legitimate chance to get anybody we want. It’s just a matter of paying for it.” Maloney met with the ownership group Wednesday to learn his new budget, but he isn’t expecting a “profound jump,” he said. The offer of stability might be more helpful in the short-term, and once that is consistently packaged with a respected coach in Dave Tippett, a strong core headlined by captain Shane Doan and goalie Mike Smith and an enjoyable lifestyle in the Valley, the Coyotes could land among the more-desirable destinations in free agency in the next few years. “I really believe it will be a place people are going to want to come play,” Smith said. Maloney has had regular conversations with center Boyd Gordon’s agent this week, but Gordon will become a free agent. The Coyotes want Gordon back in the mix as could a handful of other teams looking for a faceoff specialist and stout penalty killer. Gordon is set to earn a raise from the $1.325 million he earned last season. “He wants to see where the contract level may be and then he’s going to come back to us and see if we can come into that range or not,” Maloney said. The Coyotes have yet to make a decision on backup goalie Jason LaBarbera and center Kyle Chipchura, the remaining unrestricted free agents who spent all of last season on the NHL roster.
With new lease agreement Coyotes eye free-agency
Arizona Republic | Jul 5