With the regular season concluded, we now know where the Arizona Coyotes will start from in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
By virtue of finishing 24th in the league, the Arizona Coyotes will pick 7th overall if nothing changes. While the Draft Lottery would obviously change Arizona's spot significantly, let's take a closer look at all the different variables in play for the Coyotes in the first two rounds of the Draft this year.
Arizona's First Pick
The subsequent revisions to the NHL's Draft Lottery structure have injected a significant amount of uncertainty to everybody's draft position. With the first, second, and third overall picks up for grabs, Arizona could wind up picking anywhere from #1-3 to #7-10.
As it stands, Arizona has a 6.5% chance to win the first overall pick (and Scottsdale native Auston Matthews). The Toronto Maple Leafs have the best odds of landing the #1 pick at 20%, but everybody's odds subsequently improve as the winning team's chances are redistributed among the remaining teams. If you want to see this in action, check out this awesome NHL Lottery Simulator.
The only way Arizona can fall in the drafting order is if teams behind them win one of the three spots. Currently, Buffalo, Montreal, Colorado, New Jersey, Ottawa, Carolina, and Boston combined have a 23% chance of winning the first overall pick. Those aren't great numbers, but they get better if teams near the top (like Toronto) go off the board.
So there aren't good odds for a team behind Arizona to win the first pick. But there are decent odds for one of them to win something, which could potentially push Arizona down to #8 or #9 overall.
What Will the Rangers Do?
As part of the Anthony Duclair - Keith Yandle trade, the Coyotes acquired a conditional first rounder from New York. Prior to April 30th, the Rangers can opt either to give Arizona their selection this season, or slide it back to the 2017 NHL Draft.
What makes the decision so intriguing is that New York's first round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins will end before April 30th. Should the Rangers lose in the first round, New York's pick will be at 23rd overall or higher, considering one of St. Louis or Chicago - both with better records than the Rangers - will also lose in the first round.
So what do the Rangers do? Do they give up a mid-to-late first round pick this season and retain their first rounder next year? Or do they gamble that this season's early exit was an aberration and that they'll have a lower pick next season?
The Compensatory Pick
This won't affect the Coyotes this season, but it is a storyline to watch over the summer.
As part of the Mikkel Boedker trade, the Arizona Coyotes acquired prospects Kyle Wood and Conner Bleackley. Bleackley was Colorado's first round selection in 2014, but has been plagued with injury issues ever since. Because of his status as a first round selection, Arizona would be entitled to a compensatory pick should he not be re-signed by August 15th.
Per NHL rules, a compensatory pick for failing to sign a first round selection is given in the second round at the spot the first rounder was originally drafted. Bleackley was drafted 23rd overall in 2014, which means the Coyotes would receive the 23rd selection (53rd overall) in the second round in 2017. Whoever the holder of the 53rd overall selection is that season gets bumped back to 54th overall, and the draft proceeds from there.
Arizona is on a hot streak as far as late second rounders go. Both Jordan Martinook and Christian Dvorak were chosen with the 58th overall pick in their respective draft years. Even their late second rounders that don't stick with the team are doing pretty well recently; 2010 57th overall pick Oscar Lindberg has found a home with the Rangers, while 2011 56th overall pick Lucas Lessio played 26 games with the Coyotes last season, and 12 games with the Montreal Canadiens this season.
Assuming nothing changes, Arizona will pick six times in the first two rounds over 2016 and 2017. That's an enormous amount of flexibility to either draft players to fix holes in the prospect pool, or offer as trade bait to fix holes in the roster. Once the Draft Lottery has run, we will get a better picture of what Arizona's options are this season.