Arizona Coyotes Draft Sanctions Jeopardize Team’s Future

Arizona Coyotes draft sanctions

Yesterday the NHL announced the draft sanctions for the Arizona Coyotes, who were accused of having draft-eligible players undergo physical fitness tests outside of the official NHL Combine. It cost the Coyotes dearly. They have now lost their second-round pick this year and their first-round choice in 2021. As of right now, the Coyotes have just one pick in the first three rounds of the next two drafts, a 2021 second-round pick. Good luck trying to build a team with that.

Arizona Coyotes Draft Sanctions Implications

If the Coyotes had intended to build the prospect level of their team, not having two essential draft picks definitely hurts. This team is suffering from a front office turmoil with former general manager John Chayka abruptly abandoning the team. It is still unclear how much Chayka was involved in the training violations. However, he was the general manager and should have been aware of what was happening.

The team put out this statement concerning the decision:


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – The Arizona Coyotes issued the following statement today.

“We were advised today of the NHL’s ruling regarding the allegations of physical fitness testing of draft prospects and respect the League’s ruling. Under new leadership, we have added thorough internal controls and compliance measures to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again in the future. We will have no further comment.”

What Now?

Not having the formerly available draft picks can really deter any prospect pool a team may have intended to build. Now, Arizona is forced to make some trades if they want to obtain additional draft picks from other teams. Will they talk to Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs about obtaining their 15th overall selection they just received from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the deal for Kasperi Kapanen? And if so, who do the Coyotes have to interest the Maple Leafs to give up that pick? Perhaps a young defenceman in the Coyotes’ system such as Kyle Capobianco? You never know. Capobianco has 62 points in 89 games over the last two seasons with the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate.

Interim general manager Steve Sullivan already has his hands full with determining how to get some better players on the roster to get them back to the playoff again. He is also uncertain as to his status of becoming the new general manager from his current interim status. According to Coyotes insider (subscription required) Craig Morgan, Arizona was to meet yesterday to discuss the general manager slot. Then, the sanctions hit them.

The Arizona Coyotes Are in Disarray

With all the negative things that have happened to this team over the years, this is no surprise. Fans unfortunately are accustomed to it. Even if the team’s management group wanted to do a slight rebuild, this decision taking away valuable draft picks will be harmful to that goal.

Certainly, the Coyotes new owner, Alex Meruelo doesn’t want this kind of negative publicity as he attempts to bring this franchise to the next level. Many (this writer included) have wondered why the Arizona Coyotes are not respected enough in the league. Well, this kind of behaviour doesn’t warrant respect. It should have NEVER happened! It still seems that Chayka didn’t control his scouting team very well if this occurred.

Luckily the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t see fit to monetarily fine the team for this illicit act. They could have been fined up to $250,000 per violation. That would have hurt Meruelo’s bank statement and heads would have been flying. We don’t know if Meruelo knew if Chayka didn’t do his job on this. But it’s all water under the bridge now. Chayka skipped town before the sanctions were issued. Very convenient of him… right? In addition, individuals could have faced punitive actions as well, but Bettman thought the taking away of draft picks was enough punishment. I’ll say.

Moving Forward

The current atmosphere in the Coyotes’ front office and perhaps the locker room has to be one of doubt. Does this hurt the chances of the team signing free agents for next season? You bet it does. Just as when the team was rumoured to be relocating numerous times, this puts a cloud over a potential free agent coming to Arizona. Don’t think that any player (including the present roster) would feel shame that an organization would allow such behaviour.

So, now it’s the huge task of rebuilding respectability for the team, and one person who could do that would be Shane Doan. When Arizona names a  new general manager… even if it is Sullivan, they will need an ambassador to bring back the fans’ support of the team.

Arizona Coyotes draft sanctions
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 24: Shane Doan waves as he walks out onto the ice during a pregame ceremony to honor Shane Doan and retire his jersey at Gila River Arena on February 24, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Who better than the always smiling, always positive Doan? It would be a long-overdue move to heal relations between Doan and the team. He’s been working in the NHL office and could easily fulfill this role. Will ownership see fit to do what’s right towards the way Doan was unceremoniously not offered a contract for at least one more year? The jury is out on that, yet it would definitely discharge the negativity of the sanctions and turn it around to something positive and uplifting. Doan is good at uplifting. Give him a shot.

At this point, what have you got to lose?

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