Barring a trade, Scottsdale product Auston Matthews will not be an Arizona Coyote. The NHL held its Draft Lottery on Saturday and the Coyotes ended up with the No. 7 spot in the NHL Draft, June 24-25 in Buffalo. It’s the exact spot where the regular season standings had them slotted.
Toronto won the lottery, easing the minds of hockey fans who worried that Edmonton would somehow take home the top prize again after jumping Arizona and Buffalo last year to pick center Connor McDavid at No. 1. Edmonton will pick fourth despite finishing with the NHL’s second worst record. Both No. 3 Columbus and No. 2 Winnipeg jumped the Oilers to get into the top three.
Matthews is the presumed No. 1 pick in the draft, although some recent reports have Finnish wing Patrik Laine climbing the boards and possibly even supplanting Matthews.
Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi, Arizona born and St. Louis raised forward Matthew Tkachuk (the son of former Coyote Keith Tkachuk), forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois, Alexander Nylander and defensemen Jakob Chychrun, Mikhail Sergachev and Olli Juolevi are also considered top-10 prospects.
Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc attended the lottery along with co-owner and alternate governor, Gary Drummond.
“I’m grateful that we didn’t slip. We went through that process last year and that’s a difficult pill to swallow,” LeBlanc said. “Obviously, this was a more emotional one because of the connection to the presumptive No. 1 pick. We would have loved to be top three. The good news is we have two (first-round) picks this year.”
Here is the full selection order for the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs this season.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Calgary Flames
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Montreal Canadiens
10. Colorado Avalanche
11. New Jersey Devils
12. Ottawa Senators
13. Carolina Hurricanes
14. Boston Bruins
LeBlanc insisted three weeks ago that not having a GM in place does not impact the Coyotes’ ability to evaluate prospects. Much of that information has already been gathered and the team still could have a GM in place well before the draft.
“We’re going to pick at No. 7 which means we’re going to pick a quality future NHL player,” said LeBlanc, noting that the Coyotes also own the New York Rangers’ first-round pick. “We’re going to have two very good picks.”
LeBlanc offered some insight into the Coyotes’ thinking when he noted how many good defensive prospects should be available around the time the Coyotes pick. While Arizona has depth at the forward position in its system, it lacks that depth on defense — both at the NHL and minor league levels.
The only other time the Coyotes/Jets franchise has picked No. 7 in the draft was in 1995. They selected Shane Doan.
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