The Arizona Coyotes and the Toughest Draft Decision

Dylan Strome, Erie Otters, NHL Draft
Dylan Strome is one option for an Arizona club in need of some offence. [photo: OHL Images]
It’s almost pointless to raise the question of who the top two picks are going to be come draft day later this month. After all, the debate’s been centralized around the discussion of Connor McDavid versus Jack Eichel for longer than any of us care to figure out.

But following these two “generational” talents is where the true questions start to come to life. What does Arizona do with the third overall pick? Who will be left for the Maple Leafs at number four? Where will Noah Hanifin end up going?

With these questions in mind, who’s got the toughest choice when their front office takes to the stage? It may seem like an easy answer, but the Coyotes may actually face the toughest task at the NHL draft – slated to pick third. Here’s a few options Arizona should be pondering as the draft draws closer.

Coming Out Party in Arizona?

While he’s still considered a top-five pick by NHL Central Scouting, Dylan Strome did play in the shadow of McDavid to some extent in Erie this past season. With a rough finish to his playoff season, Strome did impress during the regular season finishing as the OHL’s top scorer with 129 points (45g-84a).

Assuming the Coyotes hold onto their third overall pick, Strome is an interesting option for the offensively-challenged Arizona franchise. Sure, a goaltender and another solid defenceman should also be on the wishlist for Maloney’s team, but adding a player like Strome could solidify the building blocks the team needs up front.

Strome’s size and ability to read the game – while still not nearly at the level of McDavid or Eichel – would certainly compliment the young players the Coyotes have in the system. Adding the nearly six-foot-three forward to the core of Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Christian Dvorak gives the team a lot to look forward to offensively in the future.

Knights of the Desert

With the afore mentioned Domi and Dvorak already in their system, it’s not hard to believe the Coyotes might have some interest in acquiring the services of London Knights forward Mitch Marner.

While his size certainly raises some questions as to his transition to the NHL level, his pure skill set and ability to read the game could be inviting to a team like Arizona. Add to that his connection to the two other prospects already in the team’s system and Marner could be a viable option at number three.

Some might ridicule the thought of a forward of his size being that impactful for a team like the Coyotes, but the comparisons in his game to that of Patrick Kane should be highlighted at any table on draft day. With London this past year, he put up 126 points (44g-82a) in 63 games with the Knights – barely missing out on the OHL scoring title.

Noah Hanifin, NHL Draft
Noah Hanifin – a solid choice on the blue line – could shake up this year’s NHL Draft. (Photo: Ellen Delucia/USA Hockey)

“Patrick Kane, I’ve known about him my whole life. He’s been my role model. He’s a guy I’ve always wanted to image my game after,” said Marner in a piece by’s Corey Masisak. “He’s a special player. I love watching him. Every time he’s on, I’m trying to watch that game and learn from what he does.”

Building the Coyotes Blue Line

Finally, Arizona eyes will be on the two top-rated defensemen in the draft. Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorov are both over six-feet tall. Both weigh in at over 200 pounds. Hanifin has the ability to see the game and lead the rush when the play allows for it. Provorov is a solid back end player with the ability to also put his name on the score sheet when the game opens up for him.

Provorov recorded 61 points (15g-46a) in 60 games for the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, while Hanifin had a solid 23 points (5g-18a) in 37 games with Boston College. Both have the ability to add more offence to the Coyotes blueline after the departure of Keith Yandle, but is offence the only need for an Arizona team that was third worst in the NHL in goals against this season.

Following Arizona at third overall – again assuming the don’t move the pick – things will fall into place based on the player drafted to the desert. With a plethora of options, the Coyotes decision is actually tougher than if the draft wasn’t as deep talent-wise.

TheNextOnes006_01LG 23While it’s an early pick – with many more to follow – it’s not farfetched to call this year’s third overall pick one of the toughest decisions for the team who decides to make it. After all, it will define the direction of the rest of the NHL draft.

For more, follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes or his THW column at @Tape2TapeTHW.

Also, be sure to check out The Hockey Writers’ exclusive Prospect Guide here with over 150 prospect profiles getting you set for June’s 2015 NHL Entry Draft.