Coyotes stick with premium positions on Day 2 of NHL Draft
DALLAS – Following Friday’s first round in which he selected center Barrett Hayton, Coyotes general manager John Chayka was asked if he felt the need to further address the team’s dearth of scoring on the wings this summer.
“There’s no perfect team,” Chayka said. “The teams that have won, they fill holes on the wing and we think there’s a myriad of different ways you can get wingers. It doesn’t have to always be through the draft. It doesn’t have to be in the top 10 of the draft.
“To get centers, to get elite, No. 1 defensemen, to get goalies, it’s tough to find those guys so you’ve got to draft them.”
Taken in sum, that’s exactly what the Coyotes did at the 2018 NHL Draft. On Day 2 of the draft at American Airlines Center on Saturday, Arizona selected four defenseman, two goalies and one wing in the second through the sixth rounds, before taking English born Liam Kirk with their seventh-round pick (No. 189).
“We’ll keep stockpiling,” Chayka said. “We know that if you play the odds, eventually they turn in your favor.”
With their second-round pick (No. 55 overall), the Coyotes selected 6-foot-6, 216-pound left-handed defenseman Kevin Bahl, 17, from the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League. In his second OHL season, Bahl had 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) in 58 games. He played on Ottawa’s top defense pair and was a leader on a young team.
Despite his size, Bahl is anything but plodding, giving him an attractive combination of mobility and a willingness to “blow people up” from time to time.
“The intriguing and appealing aspect of Bahl’s game are his skating and his hands,” Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “For a big defender, he’s quite an agile skater with deceptive quickness and speed when he has the puck and when he’s under forecheck pressure. He can handle and move the puck well at both blue lines and displays some unexpected moves and puck skills when having to negotiate his way through traffic.”
Bahl took up hockey after his soccer career went awry at age 5 or 6. He collided with another player and got a bloody nose.
“I told my dad, ‘I’m done with that. There’s no more soccer,’” he said, laughing. “My dad was like, OK, let’s try hockey.’”
Bahl said he took skating lessons with Coyotes skating coach Dawn Braid when he was a bantam.
“She was the first skating coach and she had a huge influence on me,” he said. “She really changed my mentality toward getting better and being determined.
“I remember being on the ice with her when I was 13 or 14, we were using no sticks. My mind just kind of dozed off and I kicked a puck. She said ‘how can you kick that puck?’ She told me a story of how John Tavares went out for a skate one time and he was playing with guys who were just screwing around and not focusing. He missed a skate with her for that and he said, ‘that’s the last time I’m going to do that.’ It really made an impression on me.”
With their first third-round pick (No. 65) the Coyotes took 17-year-old Czech wing Jan Jenik, who grew up playing for former Coyote Radim Vrbata’s hometown team, Mlada Boleslav, before moving to Bili Tygri Liberec. Vrbata, who moved back to Mlada Boleslav in May after retiring, called Jenik “one of Czech’s best prospects for this draft (behind Filip Zadina and Martin Kaut).”
Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt said Jenik was the youngest player in the draft. Jenik was born Sept. 15, 2000. If he had been born one day later he would have had to go into next season’s draft.
“That’s something that we understand and took into account,” Chayka said. “He’s a physical player around the net and in the dirty areas. He’s a bit of a different type of player but a guy our guys really enjoyed.”
Arizona drafted right-handed defenseman Ty Emberson, 18, with the 73rd overall draft choice in the third round. Emberson had four goals and 27 points in 61 games with the U.S. National U18 Team (USDP) last season. He moved into his dorm last week and will attend the University of Wisconsin.
“There’s nothing flashy about this guy,” Bernhardt said. “he just goes out there and plays. He can step up and hit guys, makes a good first pass, not going to be an overly flashy offensive guy but he can contribute.”
The Coyotes had another third-round pick (No. 74), which they traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round pick (87th overall) and a fifth-round draft choice (142). Chayka then flipped the 87th pick to San Jose for a fourth-round pick (114) and a fifth-round pick (145) from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the Coyotes’ 87th overall selection in the third round.
With the next four picks, the Coyotes chose two goalies – 6-foot-5, 175-pound Ivan Prosvetov (No. 114) from Youngstown of the USHL and 6-1, 172-pound, 18-year-old David Tendeck (No. 158) from Vancouver of the WHL – sandwiched around two 18-year-old defensemen: Youngstown 6-1, 191-pound left-hander Michael Callahan (No. 142) and 5-10, 188-pound, right-hander Dennis Busby (No. 145) from the Flint Firebirds of the OHL.
Bernhardt called Prosvetov, 19, a raw but intriguing prospect who wanted to get to North American to get the chance to play more regularly. Busby only played two games for Flint last year. He fractured his collarbone and was out an extended period of time, came back and played a game and a half before re-fracturing it. Despite that absence of data, the Coyotes felt he was a value pick in the fifth round, based on what they had seen.
With their final pick, the Coyotes chose English born wing Liam Kirk, 18, on whom The Athletic wrote a terrific profile in March. The Sheffield product is the first player born and trained in England to be selected in the NHL Draft.
“What our scouts have told me is with the natural skill level, in the seventh round, that’s a real good value,’ Bernhardt said. “You’re not going to find that kind of skill in the seventh round.”
The Coyotes will hold their prospect development camp at Gila River Arena from Monday to Friday. All of the draft picks are expected to attend.