We already know the obvious.
Without much doubt, the Edmonton Oilers will draft Connor McDavid 1st overall. The Buffalo Sabres will draft Jack Eichel 2nd overall. The real draft begins at the 3rd pick with the Arizona Coyotes.
NHL Draft Begins With Arizona
Enter the Arizona Coyotes. The finished 2nd to last in the standings, meaning that they had the 2nd best chances at winning the draft lottery. However, the odds favored them to move down to 3rd, outside of McDavid and Eichel. Sure enough, that’s just what happened, thanks to Edmonton. The Coyotes have a real decision to make.
Arizona will get their choice of some amazing talent. If they want a forward, both Mitchell Marner and Dylan Strome will be available. If they want a defenseman, Noah Hanifin will be available. Which way will they go?
Regardless of which way they go, the Coyotes will define the remainder of the 1st round. If Arizona picks Hanifin, most likely Dylan Strome goes to the Leafs at 4th. If the Coyotes pick Strome or Marner, most likely Hanifin goes to the Leafs. Once Arizona’s domino falls, the rest of the draft will go with it.
Arizona also owns 3 of the 1st 32 picks, and 6 picks in the 1st 3 rounds. The importance of this draft for the Coyotes can’t be stressed enough. They have an opportunity to get back on the right track. They can’t miss with these early picks. They will be the team to watch in the NHL draft.
Arizona is not the only team that could have a major impact at the NHL draft. We will highlight 4 other teams (not Edmonton or Buffalo) that will help define what the day could bring. We already know the Oilers and Sabres will have a major impact. Don’t be surprised to see Buffalo’s other 1st round pick go in a trade at some point.
Columbus Blue Jackets
This team has the potential to be scary good after this NHL draft is over. The Blue Jackets have 6 picks overall in the 1st 69 picks (as of now), which include 3 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks. They’re also picking in the Top 10 at number 8. Considering how great the season ended and who is already on the team, Columbus is in prime position to be a force starting this upcoming season.
They have a chance to make a major impact at this draft, with 5 picks in the 1st 3 rounds, including 2 1st round picks. They pick 7th and 26th overall (as of now). When the draft is this deep, having multiple 1st round picks can have a dramatic effect on your team moving forward. For a while this season, the Flyers were in the playoff race. They are not as far away as some make it out to be. This draft could be the force that bumps them to the next level.
They are currently in the playoffs. Whenever those are done for them, their next target will be the draft. Like the Blue Jackets, the Flames have 6 picks in the 1st 3 rounds, including 3 2nd round picks and 2 3rd round picks. The young talent already on the roster will only get better. This draft could set the Flames up well for years to come. The battle of Alberta moving forward is going to be some must see TV. This draft will be a major reason for that.
The fact that the Jets made the playoffs came as a surprise to many, considering that they make their living in the dreaded Western Conference. But they did it. They have some nice pieces in place in Winnipeg. With 2 1st round picks coming in this draft, they will only get stronger. All of a sudden, Western Canada is becoming a stronghold for hockey. The Jets are not going away anytime soon.
This upcoming NHL draft will be one that is remembered for many years to come. The impact of this draft will go way beyond Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Which team makes a big trade? Which teams take advantage of their picks? Who does Arizona pick 3rd overall? There will be many storylines to follow. Buckle up. The real fun is only just beginning.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.