Coyotes cut prospects because ‘we need to be a playoff team’

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In the wake of dropping three bright young talents — Max Domi, Brandon Gormley and Lucas Lessio — from the active roster, Coyotes GM Don Maloney had some interesting things to say.

“We just think for our franchise right now, we have to be competitive,” Maloney explained, per the Arizona Republic. “We need to be a playoff team. That’s what’s going to get people excited and in the building.

“Nobody has an appetite to just throw in the towel.”

Domi, the club’s first-round pick (12th overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, was thought to have a good shot at making the Coyotes — especially after Maloney opened training camp by saying the club had made a “concerted effort” to give prospects a chance of sticking with the team.

But that doesn’t appear to be the case any longer.

Gormley, the club’s first-round pick in 2010 (and fourth d-man off the board), was also sent packing despite logging over 120 games at the AHL level and making his debut with the Coyotes last season, appearing in five games. Lessio, the 56th overall pick in ’11, also made his NHL debut last season and led AHL Portland in goals, with 29.

(Previously, the Coyotes dropped ’12 first-rounder Henrik Samuelsson from camp.)

It’s unclear exactly what changed within Arizona management to do a virtual 180 on philosophy. Just last month, Maloney said the Coyotes couldn’t “sit here and say we match up, No. 1 line to No. 1 line, with many teams in the West,” adding that they “need a lot of things to go well” to make the playoffs. A youth movement sounded inevitable… but never came to fruition.

As it stands now, Arizona has 25 players in camp — which includes ’14 first-rounder Brendan Perlini, currently sidelined with a broken hand. Perlini is almost assuredly headed back to OHL Niagara, though.