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Coyotes trade up to 11th pick, select defenseman Victor Soderstrom

Victor Soderstrom poses for a portrait at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine on May 30, 2019 at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes entered Friday’s NHL Draft with the 14th pick, but they traded it with the 45th pick to the Philadelphia Flyers and selected Victor Soderstrom 11th overall.

The trade marks the ninth trade in four drafts for general manager John Chayka.

Soderstrom is a 6-foot, 183-pound right-handed defenseman from Sweden who plays for Brynas in the SuperElit and SHL.

“We got a core player for a long time,” Chayka said. “It’s almost like the list of shorter if you ask why not take him, because you have every reason to take him. He’s a right-shot defenseman, he’s playing against men, excelling against men, he’s a great person, great leader, great character, great physicality. He checks all of our boxes.”

TSN’s Bob McKenzie, speaking on the NBCSN broadcast of the draft, described Soderstrom as a finesse defenseman that passes the puck well and has good points, hands and hockey IQ.

The Athletic’s draft analyst Corey Pronman described Soderstrom as a “great puck mover, showing high-end IQ moving the puck and ice in his veins under pressure. Sometimes he’s a little too calm, letting guys close in on him and trying to be too cute, but typically he’s efficient on zone exits.”

“He’s smooth with the puck, but has very quick hands, and is able to make plays through defenders from a standstill and off the rush. There were several times this season his game popped with a wow-caliber skill play. For a smaller guy, his game could have more speed. His skating looks fine when he winds up and get going, but he lacks explosiveness and doesn’t have a ton of pace in his game. Despite his size, he’s a good defender. He closes gaps very well due to his IQ, using his body and stick to break up pucks, and makes a lot of stops.” — Pronman

Highly-touted forwards like Cole Caufield, Peyton Krebs and Alex Newhook were also available when the Coyotes got on the clock at No. 11, but Chayka instead opted to go with a blueliner.

Soderstrom marks the 10th defenseman the Coyotes have selected in their last 19 picks, going back to the start of the 2017 draft. The Coyotes could’ve opted to add to their forward group in the pipeline with this pick, but instead likely saw it as a “best player available” approach, as Chayka alluded would be the case earlier in the week.

This is also the third time in four years the Coyotes have taken a defenseman in the first round. Before taking center Barrett Hayton last year, the team drafted Pierre-Olivier Joseph 23rd overall in 2017 and Jakob Chychrun 16th overall in 2016.

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