The Coyotes brass wants to upgrade their talent, but their ownership issues could cost them Mike Smith.

Coyotes ownership woes could cost them Mike Smith.

Coyotes ownership woes could cost them Mike Smith.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sarah McLellan reports Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney acknowledged his club needed to improve their offensive depth. McLellan listed Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder and Nathan Horton as possible free agent targets. Maloney wants to re-sign goalie Mike Smith, but until they resolve the ownership situation, Smith is reluctant to re-sign. Backup Jason Labarbera is also slated to become a free agent this summer and center Boyd Gordon is a re-signing priority for Maloney. Talks have begun for a new contract with RFA forward Mikkel Boedker.

On May 2, McLellan reported the lack of ownership could restrict the resources Maloney needs to re-sign Mike Smith. After years of one- or two-year deals, he’s proven himself as a starting goalie and seeks a lucrative long-term deal. McLellan suspects Smith could seek a deal comparable to the six-year, $33 million deal recently signed by teammate Oliver Ekman-Larssen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be a shame if the Coyotes lost Smith to free agency because of their ownership situation. Maloney obviously wants to re-sign him, and Smith – grateful the club took a chance on him two years ago after the Tampa Bay Lightning cut him loose – would love to stay. Meanwhile, the league can offer no certainty new ownership will be found before the free agency period, let alone if any buyers can be found willing to keep the club in Glendale. That could affect their efforts to not only retain Smith, but also other key free agents like Gordon and Boedker.