Coyotes hope third time’s a charm at NHL Draft Lottery
Coyotes general manager John Chayka isn’t bringing any good luck charms to the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday in Toronto. Charms didn’t help the Coyotes the last two seasons when they lost out on franchise centers Connor McDavid (Edmonton) and Auston Matthews (Toronto).
Instead, Chayka will accompany majority owner Andrew Barroway and Barroway’s son, Jake, to the annual event with little more than hope.
“Hopefully, Jake is our good luck charm,” Chayka said.
This is actually the Coyotes’ fifth straight year in the lottery, but their odds at the No. 1 pick have been higher the past three seasons because they finished with the league’s second, seventh and third worst records, respectively, in those seasons.
The lottery will award the first 15 picks in the 2017 NHL Draft from June 23-24 at United Center in Chicago. The number of teams in the lottery increased by one this season with the addition of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas has the same odds of landing the top pick as the Coyotes, who finished with the league’s third-worst record.
Chayka said the Coyotes’ draft board is “fairly set,” but the lottery, as well as trade talks surrounding the expansion draft and the actual draft, will impact the board.
“The lottery just helps you know where your starting position is and a lot of the time, it remains status quo and you actually pick at that spot, but you always go through all the different trade iterations and draft scenarios,” Chayka said. “We have organizational meetings midway through May which will give us a pretty good idea, but then we have the combine and interviews so it’s always changing, almost literally up to the final day.”
While there has been some buzz about other players, big, two-way center Nolan Patrick is the consensus No. 1 pick, although he is not considered the same caliber of player as McDavid or Matthews.
Beyond Patrick, Chayka and Coyotes director of scouting, Tim Bernhardt, said there is little consensus on the players who could go between the second and 15th picks.
“I see lack of consensus as an opportunity, but not an indication of weakness or strength of the draft,” Chayka said. “I’m encouraged about the data. There are a lot of good players who can play a long time.
“Honestly, from top to bottom, this draft is deep in centers, wingers, defensemen and goalies. There are a lot of quality players.”