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Five For Howling Roundtable: the Coyotes at the draft

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With the prospect development camp finished and the offseason in full swing the Five For Howling staff looks back at the draft.

2019 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

What do you think of the Coyotes trading the 14th and 45th picks to the Philadelphia Flyers to move up to draft Victor Soderstrom?

Brandon: I think it was a high price to pay to move up a few slots in the draft. The Coyotes very clearly wanted Soderstrom and were worried that Florida would take him with the 13th pick. They may have been correct too, as the Panthers opted to draft a goalie, the first time a goalie has been taken in the top 15 since 2010 (trivia: who was that goalie? Answer posted below.), which I think was a rash decision on their part. But back to Soderstrom - the most interesting thing about him is that some scouts feel his skating is remarkable, while others see it as a weakness. The Coyotes have brought in some good skating coaches over the past few years, so one hopes that they were asked to evaluate the young Swede’s skating as well. Whether he was worth sacrificing a second round pick for in lieu of drafting someone like Cameron York (who Philadelphia selected with our original pick) only time will tell. One advantage of drafting Soderstrom over some of the other defensemen left on the board (Thomas Harley and Lassi Thomson, who went 18th and 19th, respectively), is that Soderstrom played in Sweden’s highest hockey league playing against adults and can spend this year in the AHL instead of wasting a year being returned to Juniors like Harley and Thomson will inevitably do.

Carl: Moving up wasn’t something I was surprised by. Digger deeper into GM Chayka’s drafting strategy he seems to have no issue with trading the first- and second-round picks. His pick was a bit surprising but I understand the logic. I’m a firm believer in drafting the best player available compared to drafting by need. Soderstrom may have been the best player available, time will tell, and in that case I think it was absolutely the right call.

James: I’m not surprised that the Coyotes moved up in the draft, Chayka has never been shy about making deals if he believes it’ll benefit the team. With the comments that have come out since picking Soderstrom, it is clear that he was desperate to bring him in at all costs. Giving up a second to jump just three spaces is quite a premium to pay, but he looked good in dev camp and if he turns out how the team hopes then it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Do you think that the Coyotes should have traded a pick for a player?

Brandon: I was really hoping for a trade for King Clancy winner Jason Zucker, who the Wild seem eager to move despite his impressive production, reasonable cap hit, and numerous references to his great character. I watched a few of his games with Minnesota after an opponent burned me with him in my hockey pool and the guy is a real warrior. I think he’d be an excellent addition. Aside from that, I didn’t see any other feasible trades that would’ve made sense. I speculated in the past that we may be able to get Tyler Johnson from a Lightning team that was desperate to shed cap space, but they got some relief in trading J.T. Miller to Vancouver. Given the price paid for Miller, I can’t imagine Chayka was too thrilled with the response if he kicked the tires on Johnson. I’m fine with keeping out first-round pick and selecting Soderstrom, as noted above, but I am concerned that we’re not going to have enough roster spots on the farm to give ice time to all of the defensemen Chayka keeps adding to the system.

Update: We’ve since moved out Kevin Connauton, P.O. Joseph, and Alex Galchenyuk for Carl Soderberg and Phil Kessel, so that clears up some of my worries.

Carl: Any player that would have addressed the Coyotes issues likely would have required at least a first-round pick. While I wouldn’t have minded it, I thought that Soderstrom was a solid pick and worth trading up. After the draft the Coyotes made a few moves involving defensemen, trading Kyle Connauton for Carl Soderberg and Alex Galchenyuk and P.O. Joseph for Phil Kessel. I truly believe that Arizona wouldn’t have been as willing to make those trades without having Soderstrom in their pipeline. At this point I doubt the Coyotes could have made a better trade at the draft. I hope they continue to make moves to improve the team, but at this point I’m glad they didn’t.

James: With the moves that Chayka has made since the draft, I’d say no. At the time, it was surprising that the team didn’t look to address their immediate needs on offence, but adding Soderberg and Kessel after the fact certainly makes up for it. It was a shame to see Galchenyuk go, but adding a player of Kessel’s quality will do the team a world of good.

Who do you think is the first player other than Soderstrom from the draft class to play in the NHL?

Brandon: I’m bouncing back and forth between the two selections following Soderstrom, John Farinacci and Matias Maccelli. Some of the later picks (Alexander Daryin, Aku Raty, etc.) will take considerable time, especially Raty, who needs to add to his frame to play the rougher game he seems to enjoy. Currently, Farinacci plays a better two-way game and has a good shot, but I think Maccelli has the higher offensive upside. That being said, I think Farinacci may be a better natural fit for Tocchet’s system, so he’ll get the first call-up.

Carl: In a few seasons we will hopefully have a better idea of the skills of prospects, but I did see a few positives from seeing the draft picks actually play. Matias Maccelli was really impressive at the prospect scrimmage so I can see him making it to the NHL. Surprisingly enough Raty also showed up for that game, not sure if his skill was what made him stand out or if he was putting in more effort either way a good thing.

James: My bet would be on Maccelli getting a call, but it will depend on how he does back in Finland with Ilves. His production jumped hugely in the USHL and the experience of playing against fully grown men should help him take the next steps in his development. Farinacci is an intriguing one, but he played just 22 games last season, 16 of them coming in the high school prep league. Playing for Harvard will do him a lot of good so it’ll be worth keeping a close eye on how he does over the next few years.

How would you grade the Coyotes draft days?

Brandon: B-: I think it was an okay draft, but I still think we paid a steep price in sacrificing our only second-round pick for the privilege of moving up a few spots in the draft. The remaining picks are okay selections, but I don’t think we got any steals. I’m no scout, but I feel that this was probably the weakest draft of Chayka’s short career.

Carl: B. I think that Soderstrom was a good pick, and will hopefully develop into a top four defenseman very soon. Everyone else picked was pretty standard and not exactly a surprise. I like the fact that Chayka went hard on forwards, hopefully he picked enough that a few of them will work out and be successful in the NHL.

James: I give it a B, purely because I was surprised that offence was not the team’s top priority in the first round and giving up a second to land Soderstrom is a bit of a steep price. The Coyotes have done a great job in recent years of taking some more understated prospects in the draft and turning them into decent NHL players. Seeing how their guys perform over the next year will definitely give a better insight into how the team did.

Trivia answer: Jack Campbell (Dallas Stars, 11th overall)