Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/25/13

MONTREAL - JUNE 26: Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney speaks at the podium during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
If the Coyotes decision to sign defenseman David Schlemko to a new two-year deal Monday made you hopeful that a bigger signing is imminent, were sorry to disappoint you. The Coyotes wont be signing free-agent-to-be Mike Smith to a long-term deal any time soon. They wont be signing restricted free agent Ryan OReilly to an offer sheet, and they wont be signing two other soon-to-be free agents, general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett, to long-term deals in the foreseeable future. We caught up with Maloney on Monday to get his thoughts on the first two topics as well as his assessment of the teams current roster, which was bolstered by the signing of Schlemko through 2015 for an annual hit of about 1.18 million. We know how valuable David is when hes healthy, said Maloney, who said assistant GM Brad Treliving began working on the deal before Schlemko suffered a shoulder injury early in the season. If David is healthy, this is a very good contract for us, and it gives him a little bit of security. Unfortunately for Coyotes fans, there is nothing new to report on contract talks with Smith because there is nothing new to report on the ownership front. As we noted at the start of the season, the two are tied because of the money and term that would be involved in such a deal. While its understandable that fans would like to see it get done, its also nave to expect it without some sort of resolution on the ownership front. Our thought is to let the season play out, Maloney said. Until our ownership is resolved, were going to table Mikes contract and hope things work out later. Is that a partial negotiating ploy? Unlikely. There is always posturing by both sides when its deal time, but it has been apparent to anyone who follows this team that Smiths deal has been tied to the ownership situation. And there is little chance of Smith agreeing to a value deal for the Coyotes that might satisfy the NHL. Despite a rough game Sunday in Calgary -- his second start in two nights and despite a couple rough outings against the ridiculous Blackhawks, Smith has played well the past few weeks after a rust-covered start to the season. I think we have to point fingers in a lot of other areas before we start blaming the goalie, Maloney said. We have to play better in front of him. Its that simple. Having said that, its still difficult for Maloney to assess whether the team has significant deficiencies because the team still isnt healthy. The Coyotes leading point producer, Radim Vrbata, has missed the past three games; the teams leading goal scorer, Martin Hanzal, has missed six of the teams 18 games; and both Schlemko and defenseman Derek Morris are sidelined. Maloney is encouraged by Matthew Lombardis play since returning from a shoulder injury, and he singled out the play of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Mikkel Boedker for praise while noting that the team needs more from veterans such as Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette. Id still like to see us healthy to get a more accurate read on who we are, he said. There is still plenty of time to assess the Coyotes with more than a month before the April 3 trading deadline. The question is, will anyone be willing to deal if Maloney decides they do have needs? With only 48 games this season due to the lockout, most of the teams will still be tightly packed in the standings come early April. And most of them will still believe they have a shot at the playoffs, which may make them leery of dealing pieces. Maybe theres a little separation in the East, but when you look at the West, other than Columbus, every team is right there, Maloney said. I have a hard time believing Calgary or Colorado will fall off the pace in another few weeks. Speaking of the Avalanche, Maloney addressed an issue that is on every fans mind in every NHL city: Is there a chance that restricted-free-agent holdout Ryan OReilly could end up in a local jersey? First, Maloney noted, its important to know that any deal the Coyotes take on at this point or at the deadline would essentially have to be a dollar-for-dollar deal. They cant take on additional salary because we are pretty close to our budget, he said. As for signing OReilly to an offer sheet in which the Coyotes would only have to surrender a couple draft picks, Maloney laughed at the notion. Every club -- I dont care who it is -- every club will protect its young assets, he said. I guarantee you (the Avalanche) would match the offer or you would have seen more teams focused in that area. Its really rare -- I think youd have to go all the way back to Dustin Penner -- where a club did not match. Penner was the last player to change clubs via an offer sheet, having done it in 2007 when Edmonton signed him away from Anaheim after the cash-strapped Ducks had just won the Stanley Cup. If the Avs were to match an offer sheet, they could still trade him, but for better assets. So all youve really done is made some enemies, Maloney said. The draft picks Colorado would get are great when they show up in the NHL six or seven years from now and youre still hoping you have a job as a GM, but I guarantee they will match it. Fantasy is fun, but Maloney deals in cold, hard reality. The local franchise has conditioned him to such an existence. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
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