ARIZONA COYOTES

Coyotes’ drafting has improved, but they are in need of more prospects

Jun 18, 2018, 6:14 PM | Updated: 7:44 pm
Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka is interviewed by The Doug and Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Ari...
Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka is interviewed by The Doug and Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 12, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)
(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

When the Coyotes traded left wing Max Domi to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Alex Galchenyuk on Friday, it left defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (No. 6 in 2009), forward Laurent Dauphin (No. 39 in 2013) and goalie Marek Langhamer (No. 184, 2012) as the only players drafted in 2013 or earlier that are still with the organization.

Even if you offer a generous career length of 15 seasons to find players that could still be in the league, that means that of the 65 players drafted between 2003 and 2013, less than 5 percent are still with the team. Some like Blake Wheeler, Kyle Turris and Keith Yandle have moved on to success with other teams. Some like Michael Stone, Mikkel Boedker, Connor Murphy, Jordan Martinook and Domi are still in the league, but the vast majority fall into a different category.

They couldn’t carve out NHL careers.

“We’ve had to rebuild for a reason,” said Coyotes general manager John Chayka, who will enter his third season in that role. “We haven’t drafted well enough. Now we’re trying to right that and make sure we draft better.”

One recent narrative surrounding the Coyotes has focused on its young core of players. Some of those drafted or acquired young pieces remain, such as Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, Antti Raanta, Clayton Keller, Galchenyuk, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer and Dylan Strome.

With more resources – both in man-power across Europe and North America and money – devoted to the lifeblood of scouting the past four years, the Coyotes hope they have turned a corner with their past four draft classes.

Two players each from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes have already logged at least 28 games, and five of them have logged at least 80, but all those lean years of drafting have left the Coyotes in need of more cupboard stocking.

“We’re getting stronger and stronger,” said Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt, who is entering his fifth season in that role. “You want to get depth in the organization. You know they’re not all going to make it. You get seven picks in a typical NHL year and if you get a couple NHL players and a couple more playing pro in your system, you’re doing a good job. For the first time, this organization is getting some depth in the minor leagues and we finally have our own team in Tucson having success that I think will breed success down the road.”

The Coyotes have a handful of players with the American Hockey League’s Tucson Roadrunners that could make their mark at the NHL level soon, including forwards Lawson Crouse, Nick Merkley, goalies Adin Hill, Hunter Miska and perhaps defenseman Kyle Capobianco.

Junior players Tyler Steenbergen, Brayden Burke and defensemen Cam Dineen and Jalen Smereck will likely make the jump there next season, but top 2017 pick P.O. Joseph, 18, is probably not ready for pro hockey yet and the team could still use an infusion of more top-end talent.

The Coyotes have seven picks in the NHL Draft June 22-23 in Dallas, including the No. 5 overall pick and five picks within the first 74, so there is opportunity.

“I don’t see holes any more. I don’t see major deficiencies where we don’t have belief in certain players in those areas,” Chayka said of the system. “When I came in, we were looking to accrue premium players at premium positions and we feel confident about that plan. We just won the Western Conference in the American League. That was on the backs of a lot of our draft picks and a lot of the work the scouts did. We’re thrilled about that, but that’s the first step, really.

“It’s always got to iterate itself and it’s always got to be coming in waves. Whether you’re a good team or you’re rebuilding, you’ve got to have a good system. Whether you’re picking high or picking late you’ve got to find ways to manufacture players.”

Arizona Coyotes

St. Louis Blues right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) celebrates with center Brayden Schenn (10) and cen...
Associated Press

Blues’ Buchnevich suspended 2 games for headbutting Coyotes’ Crouse

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich has been suspended two games for headbutting Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse.
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly battle for t...
Tom Kuebel

Coyotes drop home opener after 2nd-period barrage by the Blues

The Coyotes got out to a fast start in their home opener, but the Blues broke the game open in the second period to put it out of reach.
1 day ago
Arizona Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka (70) makes a save in traffic during the first period of an NH...
Associated Press

Coyotes get first point of the season in shootout loss to Sabres

Arizona Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves to help the team pick up a point against the Buffalo Sabres.
4 days ago
Conor Timmins #25 of the Arizona Coyotes controls the puck against Eric Robinson #50 of the Columbu...
Associated Press

Blue Jackets breeze past Coyotes in season opener

The Arizona Coyotes dropped the season opener and first game under coach Andre Tourigny 8-2 on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
6 days ago
Andrew Ladd #16 of the Arizona Coyotes at a faceoff during a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in ...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Coyotes name alternate captains for season opener

The Arizona Coyotes have named their alternate captains for the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
6 days ago
FILE - In this July 1, 2021, file photo, Arizona Coyotes new head coach Andre Tourigny speaks durin...
Associated Press

Arizona Coyotes enter 2021-22 with overhauled roster

With a slew of new faces, the Arizona Coyotes are hoping to reshape a franchise that’s been to the playoffs just once in the past nine years.
6 days ago
Coyotes’ drafting has improved, but they are in need of more prospects