After surprising some with the selection of defenseman Victor Soderstrom in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft on Friday evening in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Arizona Coyotes and general manager John Chayka aggressively addressed the club’s biggest organizational need – forward depth – on the draft’s second day.
No. 76: C John Farinacci
Sitting out the second round after trading the No. 45 pick as part of the deal to move up to select Soderstrom, Chayka made his first selection of Day 2 at pick No. 76 in the third round. The Coyotes owned the No. 74 selection when the day began, but traded it to the Pittsburgh Penguins for picks No. 98, 151, and 207.
With the No. 76 pick, Arizona selected center and Harvard University commit John Farinacci, who entered the draft as the No. 1-ranked high school player in the United States.
Here at THW, Brandon Share-Cohen ranked Farinacci as the 96th-best prospect in the draft, while Ryan Pike and Larry Fisher had him slightly higher, at 86 and 73, respectively. Elsewhere, NHL Central Scouting had Farinacci as the No. 35 North American skater, while TSN’s Bob McKenzie had him as the No. 52 overall prospect.
Farinacci spent the 2018-19 season with Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, Massachusetts, where, as captain, he scored 12 goals and 21 assists in 16 games. In 2017-18, the New Jersey native recorded 26 goals and 27 assists in 27 games, giving him 86 points over his last 43 high school contests.
Dexter Southfield has seen its fair share of NHL talent pass through over the last handful of seasons – Boston Bruins second-round pick and current Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Donato played there from 2011 to 2015, recording 227 points across 115 games before moving onto Harvard.
Defenseman Jack Rathbone, the Vancouver Canucks’ No. 95 overall selection in the 2017 draft, also spent four years at Dexter before enrolling at Harvard, recording 91 points in 68 games across his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons at the school.
The Dexter to Harvard connection has produced some quality talent over the past few years, and the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Farinacci will undoubtedly be looking to follow in Donato’s footsteps and become an impact player at the NHL level.
No. 98: LW Matias Maccelli
A left-winger from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, Matias Maccelli was the first of two Coyotes’ fourth-round selections on Saturday.
Standing at 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 165 pounds, Maccelli was ranked as the No. 51 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting prior to the draft. At THW, Share-Cohen had Maccelli at No. 71 overall, Pike ranked him 78th, and Fisher had him at No. 98 – exactly where he was selected.
The 18-year-old from Turku, Finland, played in 62 games with the Fighting Saints last season, picking up 31 goals, 41 assists, and a plus-eight rating. He was particularly dangerous on Dubuque’s power play, collecting four power-play goals along with 22 power-play assists, the highest total among all forwards in the league. Maccelli’s 72 total points were good enough for third in the USHL, behind only 2016 fourth-rounder Brett Murray and fellow 2019 fourth-rounder Nick Abruzzese.
His NHL arrival is likely a few years out, but Maccelli has a good chance to rise up the ranks quickly in Arizona’s relatively shallow forward prospect pool. Look for him to make noise in the Finnish professional ranks next season before coming to North America in 2020-21.
No. 107: RW Alexandr Darin
With their second fourth-round selection of the draft, the Coyotes selected Russian forward Alexandr Darin. A 5-foot-11, 159-pound 18-year-old, Darin played Russian junior hockey in the MHL last season, scoring 20 goals and 15 assists in 47 total games for Loko Yaroslavl.
He also spent time in the NMHL, the second-tier junior league in the country, adding 10 goals and 12 assists in 18 games there.
Darin was ranked as the No. 348 prospect in this year’s draft by THW’s Fisher, while NHL Central Scouting put him as the 26th-best European skater available.
No. 151: RW Aku Raty
With his lone fifth-round selection in Vancouver, Chayka selected forward Aku Raty out of Finland with the No. 151 overall pick.
Raty played Finnish junior hockey in 2018-19 with Kärpät, collecting 19 goals and 26 assists to go with a plus-15 plus/minus rating in 52 games. Additionally, Raty played for his country at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Sweden, where he scored twice in five games and impressed many outside observers with his play at the tournament.
The 6-foot, 170-pound 18-year old was ranked as the 67th-best European skater by NHL Central Scouting. At THW, Share-Cohen had him as the 173rd-best prospect available, while Pike had him at 121. Fisher ranked Raty at No. 171.
No. 174: LW Danil Savunov
With the first of his two sixth-round selections, Chayka selected Danil Savunov, an 18-year-old from Sarov, Russia. Savunov played 45 games with Dizel Penza of the second-tier VHL (the Russian equivalent of the AHL) in 2018-19, recording six goals and nine assists in 45 games.
This was a curious selection, as the 5-foot-10, 148-pound Savunov was unranked by most publications entering the draft. He did not appear on Share-Cohen’s or Fisher’s rankings at THW, and was not listed on NHL Central Scouting’s list of European skaters. The only place I could find him ranked is at No. 66 among European players by Draftin Europe.
No. 176: C Anthony Romano
At No. 176 overall, the Coyotes selected Canadian forward Anthony Romano. Listed as a center by NHL Central Scouting, and ranked as their No. 52 North American skater, Romano played with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede in 2018-19, picking up 26 goals and 21 assists in 60 games there. He’s committed to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, for the 2019-20 season.
In THW’s draft rankings, the 5-foot-11, 182-pound Romano was ranked at No. 177 by Fisher, No. 194 by Share-Cohen, and received an honorable mention from Pike in his top-125 list.
No. 200: D Axel Bergkvist
As they did in the fourth and sixth rounds, the Coyotes also owned two picks in the seventh round on Saturday in Vancouver, using the first of these selections, at No. 200 overall, on left-handed defenseman Axel Bergkvist.
Bergkvist, a 5-foot-9, 201-pound defender from Insjon, Sweden, split time between Swedish junior hockey and HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-tier professional league in the country, in 2018-19.
Playing with Leksands IF, the same club current Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson played for in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Bergkvist posted three goals and seven assists in 36 professional games to go with 12 goals and nine assists in 23 junior contests.
No. 207: C Valentin Nussbaumer
The Coyotes’ final pick of the draft has the potential to be one of the most intriguing QMJHL players to watch in 2019-20. Valentin Nussbaumer, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound forward from the Shawinigan Cataractes, was Chayka’s choice at No. 207 overall.
Before the season, Nussbaumer was a highly regarded prospect – he received first-round grades from some publications and was invited to participate in the 2019 CHL Top Prospects Game as well. However, the 2018-19 season didn’t go well for him in Shawinigan – the Cataractes only won 14 games all season, leaving Nussbaumer with a gnarly minus-49 plus/minus rating to go with his 17 goals and 21 assists in 58 games.
Stuck on a bottom-feeding team in the QMJHL, Nussbaumer’s stock dropped significantly as the season progressed. He still has a lot of talent, though – he’ll be a player to keep an eye on in 2019-20. If the team around him improves, look for Nussbaumer’s stock to quickly rise once again.
Overall, the Coyotes did what many expected them to do on the second day of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft – they used six of their eight picks on forwards, and were able to get some pretty good value with those selections.
None of the players selected by general manager John Chayka will play in the NHL in 2019-20, barring a huge surprise, but we could potentially see Soderstrom, Farinacci, and Maccelli all suit up for the organization as soon as 2020-21 since none of them are restricted from playing in the AHL until their age-20 seasons due to the CHL-NHL Agreement.
A lifelong Phoenix resident, Louis has been following hockey since 2010, has covered the Arizona Coyotes since 2015, and has been playing hockey since 2020. So far, Louis has visited eight NHL cities, and one of his personal goals is to eventually make it to all 31 NHL arenas. For any questions or concerns, contact the writer via Twitter @LouisPannone.