Another year of rebuilding continues in the desert. However, change was in the air as the Arizona Coyotes finally left Glendale and the Desert Diamond (formerly Gila River) Arena for Tempe and Mullett Arena at Arizona State. Moves needed to be made and the first steps toward a new arena were successful, as the arena is officially on the ballot in May . Clayton Keller was selected for the third time to be an all-star , and while the team has faded in the standings, they have shown fight.
They currently sit in 7th place in the central, with 38 points and a record of 16-28-6. It is the point in the season when trade talk heats up and guys like Keller, Chychrun, and Ghost may be on the move for draft picks. While draft picks have traditionally been viewed as gold for rebuilding franchises, I am of the view that the Coyotes should refrain from making trades unless the offer is so outrageous it cannot be ignored. Instead, here are five moves I think the Coyotes should make for next season without moving on from their core players. These moves would keep fan favorites in place and set the team up to compete for the playoffs next season.
1 – Find a “glue guy” or two. ESPN recently published an article titled, “Celebrating Ryan Hartman and the best NHL ‘glue guys’.”  In it, the attributes of this type of player are broken down and a list is provided of players the writer, Greg Wyshynski considers the best. Arizona is sorely missing a glue guy to supply veteran guidance and energy for the young core to feed off. Ghost just is not that type of player in my opinion. He is a good asset, but not a glue guy.
Recommended signings: Joe Pavelski, Radko Gudas, Lars Eller
2 – Bring in a bruiser. I know, I know, the NHL is all about speed now. But there is something to be said about having a brawler ready to go in your lineup. This team needs that type of player who is ready to drop the gloves and defend his teammates or supply a spark. Look at the effect Ryan Reaves has had since being traded to Minnesota. That type of play next season will jolt this lineup and electrify Mullett Arena.
Recommended signings: Ryan Reaves, Luke Schenn
3 – Re-sign the team’s unrestricted free agents. I like this core, and I think there’s heart and potential in the lineup. I want to see another year of growth and development by the team, and I think it’s worth taking care of your own this off-season. Let’s see what we’ve got and how we can mold them with these other acquisitions.
Recommended re-signings: Shayne Ghostisbehere, Nicholas Ritchie, Troy Stecher, Nick Bjugstad
4 – Bring in an established veteran goalie. I think the talent is there with Karel Vejmelka, and his stat line speaks to this. Currently sporting a 3.19 GAA, .907 save percentage, and 3 shutouts , it is a marked improvement over last season as well as his career stats. While not quite a Darcy Kuemper (which it still pains me to have seen him lift the cup with the Avalanche), he could be an asset on a budding team. Bringing in an established veteran who can improve his game and mentor him would be tremendous. My number one choice, Braden Holtby, unfortunately, is no sure bet, as injuries may force his career to end.
Recommended signings: Braden Holtby (if healthy), Semyon Varlamov, Ben Bishop, Brian Elliot
5 – Sign a bonafide veteran captain. This needs to be re-established after going without a captain this season. Call me a traditionalist, but I believe this team needs a singular representative voice on the ice and off it. There’s a reason it’s a long-standing tradition in all sports. Time to bring in a leader who knows how to thrive and succeed and a small-to-medium-size market.
Recommended signings: Ryan O’Reilly, Jordan Staal
Ownership and the front office will have to do the heavy lifting to convince established veterans that Arizona is on the up and up. I think between the potential of the new arena, the core talent on the roster, and the commitment (so far) of ownership to remain in the Phoenix metro area the selling points are all there. These moves could be the difference between playoff hockey back in the desert and another rebuilding season next year.
 Baker, David. “Coyotes Arena, Entertainment District Officially on the Tempe Ballot in May.” https://www.azfamily.com, January 6, 2023. https://www.azfamily.com/2023/01/06/coyotes-arena-entertainment-district-officially-tempe-ballot-may/.
 Coyotes, Arizona. “Keller to Represent Coyotes at 2023 NHL All-Star Game in Sunrise, Florida.” NHL.com, January 6, 2023. https://www.nhl.com/coyotes/news/keller-selected-to-represent-coyotes-at-2023-nhl-all-star-game-in-sunrise-florida/c-339563420.
 Wyshynski, Greg. “Celebrating Ryan Hartman and the Best NHL ‘Glue Guys.’” ESPN.com, January 26, 2023. https://www.espn.com/nhl/insider/insider/story/_/id/35525266/celebrating-ryan-hartman-best-nhl-glue-guys.
 NHL.com. “Karel Vejmelka Stats and News,” n.d. https://www.nhl.com/player/karel-vejmelka-8478872.