The Arizona Coyotes will look for another Clayton Keller as they head into the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with the seventh overall pick. The Coyotes currently hold two first-round picks, their own and the Minnesota Wild’s pick, acquired earlier this season in the Martin Hanzal trade. Minnesota had an early exit in the playoffs after losing in the first round to the St. Louis Blues in only five games. Coyotes fans were happy to see this, as there is now a chance the Coyotes could have two picks in the top 20.
Receiving the seventh overall pick, the worst pick the team could have, came as a disappointment to many fans and the organization. This year’s draft looks to be the weakest in recent years, with no generational players like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but there are plenty of potential first-liners and depth players. Currently, Cody Glass is projected to be drafted seventh, which would bring him to Arizona if the Coyotes hold on to their pick.
Widely known for being one of the best players outside of the NHL for most of last season, Clayton Keller went to the Coyotes in the 2016 draft at seventh overall. Arizona would be thrilled to get another player with a similar skill set to Keller, who was an absolute steal at seventh.
Coyotes Have Late First Round Options
The Wild’s pick can prove to be very beneficial to the Coyotes, like the New York Rangers’ first-round pick in the 2016 NHL entry draft. The Coyotes drafted defensemen Jakob Chychrun 16th overall after a trade was made with the Detroit Red Wings for their first-round pick and the contract of Pavel Datsyuk. In exchange, the Red Wings received the 18th overall pick and forward Joe Vitale.
Chychrun made the team out of training camp and started the season playing extremely well, giving the Coyotes’ management no other choice except to keep the young defenseman. Chychrun hit a rough patch mid-season but began to show his true potential after the trade deadline, when top Arizona defenseman Micheal Stone was sent to Calgary.
Arizona can also use the second first-round pick as a trading asset to either move up in the draft or possibly bundle with another player to improve an area. The youth movement for Arizona will give the team a very young roster next season with only some NHL experience and even less playoff experience. A possible trade involving the Wild’s first round pick and a prospect for a solid veteran player could provide a strong leader in and out of the locker room.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan still has not made a decision on whether he will play or call it a career after this past season. Depending on what his answer is, the Coyotes could be in serious need of a leader who can work with the younger players. Veteran Radim Vrbata has made it very clear that he hopes to re-sign with the Coyotes; a trade for another player could keep that from happening this off-season.
The Arizona Coyotes have plenty of options moving into the NHL Draft and beyond. With the seventh overall pick, the Coyotes will look to draft another gem like Keller. Keller, who only played three games the Coyotes this season and registered two assists, will most likely start with the team at the beginning of next season.
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Chicago on June 23-24, 2017.
I am a college student in Arizona covering the Arizona Coyotes. I have spent most of inaugural season covering the Tucson Roadrunners. I am the operations coordinator for my university’s hockey team where I coordinate the games as well as fan experience.