Expect one thing from the Phoenix Coyotes this summer. Changes. Lots and lots of changes. When Steve Ellman purchased the Coyotes franchise earlier this week, he purchased a team full of disenchanted players. First and foremost for the Coyotes organization is a decision regarding GM Bobby Smith. Smith, brought in by the Burke regime, may find himself looking for a job sooner than later. The Coyotes hardly made any noise against the Avalanche in this years playoffs. This was due largely in part due to a lack of their star goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and center Robert Reichel. Both players, Smith was unable to come to an agreement on new contracts. With fourteen free agents this off-season, Smith can ill-afford to lose any more of their top line talent, namely Dallas Drake and Lyle Odelein. Speaking of Khabibulin, the Tampa Bay Lighting have reportedly shown interest in the netminder. Khabibulin who starred in the IHL this season should demand a high price. However, if changes are made within the management structure of the Coyotes organization, expect Khabibulin to reach an agreement to remain in Phoenix next season. Khabibulin is on record stating that he would return to the Coyotes organization if such a change transpired. This is in stark contrast to his previous comments regarding never again playing for the Coyotes organization.
Robert Reichel is not likely to garner much interest from any of the teams in the NHL for his reported $3 million dollar asking price. If his demands don’t decrease, expect him to be dealt for less than what the Coyotes gave up in order to acquire him (Brad Isbister). Keith Tkachuk coming off an injury plagued season has been dogged by trade rumors for much of the season. He’s very likely to be dealt in the off-season with the most likely candidate being Philadelphia for the equally troubled Eric Lindros. Rumors of an imminent trade involving Jeremy Roenick appear to be false as he is rumored to be close to signing a long-term deal.