Coyotes’ 5 selections in 2020 NHL Draft include D Mitchell Miller
The Arizona Coyotes selected defenseman Mitchell Miller with their first NHL Draft selection in 2020, a fourth-round pick at 111th overall.
Arizona traded its first- and third-round picks for this year’s draft and lost its second-rounder due to violating draft scouting rules, making Miller its highest selection of the five total it made in the draft.
Miller, 18, played for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League (USHL) and scored eight goals with 25 assists in 44 games in 2019-20.
At 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, the right-handed shot from Sylvania, Ohio, is committed to playing for North Dakota next season.
Miller said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday that he is 100% committed to the school and is already taking classes.
He is the first draft pick made under new Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong’s regime, though Armstrong is not working the draft due to an agreement with his former team, the St. Louis Blues.
Miller has played in the USHL since 2017, when he was drafted 17th overall in that junior league futures draft. He has experience playing for Team USA at the World Junior “A” Hockey Challenge the past two seasons. Over six games in the last event, he scored two goals to go with four assists as the United States won the silver medal.
Scouting services ranked Miller as high as 49th overall and as low as 201st, according to rankings collected by EliteProspects.com.
Miller is considered a strong skater who has a natural feel. Here’s a portion of what EliteProspects wrote from its 2020 NHL Draft guide:
Miller showed high-level off the puck instincts, keeping his feet moving at all times, making himself available, and anticipating developing passing lanes. His sense of timing is a big plus at both ends of the ice.
“I’m a two-way defenseman,” Miller said when describing his game. “I can play defense and break pucks up in tight areas but I can also join the rush and know when to be in the rush or when to stay back for defense.”
In the fifth round at pick No. 142, Arizona’s second selection of the day was left wing Carson Bantle. The 18-year-old American is committed to playing at Michigan Tech after posting 20 goals and 29 assists for the Madison Capitols “A” in the USHL this past season.
Bantle’s physicality at 6-foot-4 on the wing impressed EliteProspects.com.
His dexterity and puck control allowed him to slice through NTDP defenders with shocking ease. He combines his feet so well with his hands, setting up dekes with crossovers and mohawks. His strength was notable as he just kept throwing around players like they weren’t even there; really impressive stuff
Bantle said Wednesday he likes to play “north-south” by using his strength, a newfound part of his game recently after undergoing a five-inch growth spurt.
The sixth-round selection for the Coyotes with the 173rd pick was forward Filip Barklund. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, the 18-year-old had 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 43 games at the U-20 level in Sweden last season.
Barklund’s 2020-21 season is already underway, and he’s got a goal and seven assists through eight games for Orebro HK J20. The 6-foot tall forward makes his presence known by getting around the ice, according to EliteProspects.com.
He has a good push in his first steps and really accelerates over longer distances. He skates with open hips, which allow him to go fast sideways. His edge work while turning is good and enables him to change direction and shake off defenders along the boards. Barklund’s motor and drive really stand out. He can play physical and engage in board battles to win the puck back.
The Coyotes saw more than one prospect they liked in the seventh round, so they traded for another selection, No. 192 from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for their seventh-round pick in 2021.
With the 192nd selection, Arizona picked forward Elliot Ekefjard.
Ekefjard, 18, plays in Sweden. Like Barklund, he recently made the jump to the U-20 level. This season for Malmo Redhawks J20, Ekefjard has three goals and three assists for six points.
Arizona’s last selection with the 204th pick in the seventh round was forward Ben McCartney.
A 19-year-old Canadian, McCartney has spent the last three-plus seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). This past season, the 6-foot tall forward had 25 goals and 36 assists.
It’s a basic, effective package of a hockey player that EliteProspects.com sees in McCartney.
McCartney plays a simple, meat and potatoes sort of game. He spends a lot of time in front of the net and does a good job fighting for positioning. He also took the puck to the net on one occasion, dropping the shoulder and dragging a defender with him en route to the scoring chance.