It's no secret that the Coyotes need to rebuild their defense at pretty much every level. What was once considered the strength of the Desert Dogs has become a weakness that the team needs to address.
While Jakob Chychrun and Olli Juolevi may have been the favored defensive prospects at this year's draft, Mikhail Sergachev's first season in the OHL has given him a strong case for being selected early.
Mikhail Sergachev - Defenseman - Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
2015-16 Stats - 67 GP - 17 G, 40 A, 56 PIM
You could be forgiven if the Nizhnekamsk native wasn't on your radar going into this season. While Chychrun and Juolevi have been getting most of the attention Sergachev has been having an impressive rookie season in the OHL, finishing second in the OHL in points for a defenseman and the only rookie to crack the top 10.
It's easy to see why Coyotes fans should be excited about Sergachev. He is a two-way defenseman who generates offense and knows how to play on the power play. Sergachev's time on the Spitfires' top power play unit lead to him finishing tied for most power play goals among defensemen with 8 and top with power play points with 31.
Sergachev also brings something that many of the other defensive prospects lack: size. He'll be 18 on draft day and is listed at 6'3", 206 pounds, compared to players like Juolevi (180 pounds) or Jake Bean (170 pounds). While size isn't everything in the NHL, an extra 20 pounds means he should need less time to physically mature before he is ready for the NHL.
With regards to play style Sergachev describes himself as "a two-way defender who loves playing everywhere" who has been drawing comparisons with Drew Doughty. The comparisons may not be far off as both players won the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman of the year.
It seems very likely that the Coyotes will be looking to draft a defenseman this year and with their draft spot its likely they will be able to pick one of the top prospects. The NHL's draft ranking has Olli Joulevi, Jakob Chychrun, and Charles McAvoy ahead of Mikhail Sergachev, but Sergachev's rookie season may have been good enough to push him up when it comes time for the team to actually pick.