The Arizona Coyotes and General Manager Bill Armstrong have been busy the last few days in the desert. After managing the protected list for the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, the team now shifts its attention to the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Unfortunately, the Coyotes’ new faces in management are not likely to be picking in the first round this year.
This is the second year in a row that the Coyotes do not have a first-round pick. Last year, they traded what became the 18th overall pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Taylor Hall deal. This year, the league forfeited their first-round pick due to the Coyotes violating the league’s combine testing policy.
Despite this, the team has managed to recoup some of their lost draft capital in the second round. So here is a preview of the first NHL entry draft of the Armstrong era.
Round 1: As mentioned previously, Arizona does not currently have a first-round pick.
Round 2: Arizona has three picks in the second round. At 37th overall, Arizona has Columbus’ second-round pick that they acquired from Ottawa in the Derek Stepan trade. Then, Arizona has their own pick at 43rd overall. They also pick 60th overall with Colorado’s second-round pick that the Islanders used as a sweetener to entice the Coyotes to take on Andrew Ladd’s contract.
Round 3: Washington obtained Arizona’s third-round pick from New Jersey. This was also part of the Taylor Hall trade, but the conditions were not met to upgrade the pick ahead of the third round.
Round 4: Arizona will pick twice in the fourth round (107th overall and 122nd overall). They have their own fourth-round pick and Pittsburgh’s from the Phil Kessel trade in 2019.
Round 5 and 6: Arizona kept their two picks and did not acquire any others for round 5 and round 6 of the draft. They are slated to pick 139th overall and 171st overall.
Round 7: Arizona swapped their 2021 7th round pick for New Jersey’s 2020 7th round pick. In 2020, they selected Elliot Ekefjard 192nd overall. As a result, they do not own a pick in the 7th round this year.
Potential Players Available
Since the Coyotes do not pick until the second round, it is difficult to predict which available players Armstrong will consider. The various rankings of this year’s prospects have added even more uncertainty to this year’s draft.
Many players have lost a year or more of development due to their league shutting down during the pandemic. This has made it inconvenient for scouts to evaluate players, and some even deem it a weaker draft class than previous years.
However, these strange circumstances could benefit the Coyotes. A talented player having a smaller sample size of games could increase their chances of slipping through the cracks to the Coyotes.
While the Coyotes could go several ways with their picks in the second round, they will likely choose the best players available.
Take a glance at the top 32 #NHLDraft prospects for 2021, via @NHLdotcom. https://t.co/Cd908ZcbQo— NHL (@NHL) January 23, 2021
If they instead choose to focus on drafting by position, Armstrong has stressed the need for defensemen and left wings.
2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 left wings https://t.co/vFDxU6PnnC via @NHLdotcom— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) July 17, 2021
2021 NHL Draft: Top 10 defensemen https://t.co/rXpxLianZp via @NHLdotcom, @umichhockey— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) July 15, 2021
General Manager Bill Armstrong has not hesitated to make a deal so far this offseason. He has already made three trades and hinted that there are more to come before the draft.
Management has had a lot to deal with this offseason as the team begins to rebuild. However, despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, Armstrong has spoken positively about the upcoming draft.
“Our ownership has invested in [scouting] and allowed us to go out in a pandemic and scout, so we feel comfortable with the draft,” said Armstong in a video released by the Arizona Coyotes on social media.
“I think for our scouts, they want to draft. That’s what they’ve done and the guys that we have on board, it’s really something to be excited about as an organization because of the quality of scouts we’ve hired,” Armstrong concluded.
How has our team prepared for this year's #NHLDraft?— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 22, 2021
GM Bill Armstrong explains: pic.twitter.com/Z4JsvLmLdJ
Armstrong has faith in director of amateur scouting Darryl Plandowski, associate director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski, and the rest of the scouting staff.
As for what they are looking for this offseason, there are a lot of needs. When asked about this, Armstrong listed some pieces.
“We’re looking to fill in, especially on the defensive side,” Armstrong noted in a video interview released by the team.
“We’ll probably need to add some left wingers as we move forward too,” mentioned Armstrong.
What's our biggest need in this year's #NHLDraft?— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 19, 2021
GM Bill Armstrong discusses: pic.twitter.com/FDvhSIRbGz
He will certainly have a chance to fill these holes through the draft, trades, and free agency. He may not be done using trades to gain even more draft capital before the draft on Friday.
Although the Coyotes do not have a first-round pick, management and fans have reason to pay close attention to the draft ahead.