The Arizona Coyotes are in the midst of a lengthy rebuild, and general manager Bill Armstrong has been very vocal about wanting to build a competitive team. The path to doing so for the Coyotes will begin Thursday night with the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and will offer the team a chance to get on the right track.
Arizona possesses 10 total picks in the draft, and seven in the first two rounds alone. The team’s highest selection, third overall, the third in franchise history, has the potential to have a huge impact on the team’s trajectory moving forward.
The top three candidates seem to be set — with Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Logan Cooley in everyone’s sights — and unlike in recent seasons, none of the three listed are the outright projected first overall pick heading into Thursday night’s draft. Today’s post will analyze what it would look like if assumed first overall pick Shane Wright falls to third and the Coyotes select him.
Wright Brings Sharp IQ, Playmaking Abilities & Leadership
At one time, it was assumed the Montreal Canadiens would take Wright first overall, with New Jersey taking Slafkovsky second, leaving Cooley at third for the Coyotes. Recent reports and rumors state that may not be the case, leading to speculation as to whom Montreal will select first overall. That may lead Armstrong to have to re-think his selection. He’s stated that they will take the best available player left, leaving Montreal and New Jersey to figure things out. The team needs a center that has all the makings of an NHL player. Who better than Shane Wright?
Wright, who played this past season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Kingston Frontenacs, had quite the season, logging 94 points on 32 goals and 62 assists in 63 games, good for second on the team. He also took home a Canadian Hockey League (CHL) end-of-season award as the top draft prospect.
While most players look to make the defender miss, it’s Wright’s hockey IQ, playmaking abilities, and leadership that have caught the attention of scouts, choosing to pass the puck instead to manage space. It’s the way he uses give-and-go’s and positioning to obtain the puck and extend offensive zone time. All of these characteristics, along with quick speed and a lethal and accurate shot, makes Wright so intriguing to not just the Coyotes, but the entire league.
Wright Can Be Franchise Center for Coyotes
Wright has all the makings to be a franchise player for whoever calls his name on Thursday night. He possesses the skill, leadership, and size that make him such an attractive prospect. Where he struggles is in offensive consistency. Despite this, he has everything going for him and could easily start in the NHL this upcoming season. While the Coyotes most likely would send him back down, as they go through a rebuild, they have no intentions to rush their younger core to win. Even so, it’s no secret that he would be a franchise player for the organization in the future.
The biggest debate heading into the draft is who Montreal takes. If they’re planning to go center with the first-overall pick, Wright is not a guarantee, with many believing the Canadiens could instead select Cooley, another center, with the pick. This has led to discussions as to who the better player is. Whatever the case may be, expect the Coyotes to take another pivot here.
As it stands at the time of publication, Arizona has just three centers signed beyond the 2022-23 season. Armstrong has a busy offseason ahead of him, which will likely include acquiring aging players on bloated contracts in exchange for future assets, and Wright, if selected, would finally give the Coyotes a franchise center.
The Coyotes’ rebuild begins with the 2022 NHL Draft, and if the team is looking to make a splash and select someone that has the ability to be a franchise player, and make them a competitive team, then expect Armstrong to select Wright with the third overall pick if he’s still available.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.