It’s NHL draft time! With the Coyotes sitting fifth overall there’s a multitude of options and possibilities and there’s been all manner of speculation over the past few weeks. However, whiler there’s many names that could be called by John Chayka, all the rhetoric tells us that a name will be called fifth overall, with the chances of a trade or even a trade-up to go after the likes of Rasmus Dahlin looking pretty unlikely.
Here is a brief assessment of five possible players to be donning a Coyotes jersey this evening.
- Brady Tkachuk (LW, Boston University, NCAA)
Let’s get this one out of the way quickly. With the family connection of his dad Keith being a legendary Coyote and Brady being a strong, powerful winger with a lot of snarl in his game, there is a strong argument that he’s the type of player who is almost made for Arizona’s needs. However, Tkachuk, while looking an ideal foil to the likes of Clayton Keller, isn’t the shoe-in at this pick some seem to think. For one, his draft stock has been dropping slightly...not much, but enough, over the past few weeks, from a top five pick to maybe a top ten. For another, he’s basically the same type of player as Lawson Crouse, only less developed. Do the Coyotes really need an agitator like Tkachuk in a lineup which appears to be being built around another template altogether...one that other players available at this pick will likely fit far better. Players like:
2. Oliver Wahlstrom (RW, USNTDP)
Wahlstrom is, to put it mildly, a truly exciting prospect. One of the most exciting forwards in this draft, his combination of speed, strength and pure instinct makes him a genuine franchise player. In most other drafts, he’d probably be in the top three, which tells you just how good Dahlin/Svechnikov/Zadina are. A hugely confident forward with skills to burn down opposition walls and the killer instinct shared by all truly great goalscorers, if he’s still here at five he arguably has to be the pick, especially if the Yotes are looking at forwards first. Pairing him with Keller and Galchenyuk in (probably) a season or two is a prospect to salivate over.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C, Assat Pori, Finland)
The best pick at center in a draft filled with them, Kotkaniemi is a fast, intelligent center with a lethal shot and the ability to create chances for others at a high level. The problem arguing against him, however, is that it gives the Coyotes an embarassment of riches at the position while filling a need that can probably equally be filled with a later pick. That’s the strongest argument against taking him or indeed any center at this pick for the Coyotes...but as the saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing.
- Adam Boqvist (D, Brynas IF, Sweden)
If you can’t get Rasmus Dahlin, then get the next best thing. Boqvist is a terrifyingly-skilled offensive defenseman with the abilities and skills of a top-line forward. He can create goals from nothing and his vision and decision-making in the offensive zone is second to very few indeed. He carries the puck with a joy and verve that is rarely seen in a blueliner, and skates like the wind. He probably needs a little more seasoning before he hits the NHL, but with the Coyotes depth on the blueline he has that time and space to grow into a role and form his game in the SHL. An ideal long-term blueline pick.
- Quinn Hughes (Michigan, NCAA)
Like Boqvist, Hughes is an attractive pick mainly to add to the Yotes’ blueline pipeline. He’s solid in his own end and creative and intelligent in the offensive zone and can season himself in one of the best college programs on the planet next season. The problem, one supposes, though, is that he’s a “safe” pick. Not one that really sets the world alight...and that’s not traditionally the John Chayka way.
After the first and second picks the draft is wide open so other players are also in the mix – like Acadie-Bathurst’s Noah Dobson and London’s Evan Bouchard. However, if players like Filip Zadina become available, they have to be snapped up – Zadina in particular could be a legitimate NHL forward next season and fills a role at RW. No matter what it’s going to be a fun first round in the NHL 2018 draft, though, especially if you’re a Coyotes fan.