The Disappointing Arizona Coyotes Draft History

arizona coyotes draft history

With the 2021 NHL Draft happening within days, it seems apropos to dig into the Arizona Coyotes draft history. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that successful NHL teams build from the draft. When one researches the Arizona Coyotes draft history, it becomes clear why they haven’t won a Stanley Cup. Or why they haven’t even gone to the playoffs much since arriving in the Valley of the Sun in 1996.

One draft in particular sticks out in memory for the Desert Dogs. In the 2015 NHL draft, the Coyotes had the third overall pick and went with Dylan Strome. Who went at #4? None other than Mitch Marner. That could have been a franchise-changing draft selection seeing as how Marner is quite the superstar player now. He has collected 103 goals and 255 assists for 358 points in 355 games. That offensive firepower is certainly missing in the current Coyotes’ lineup.

This was the same draft that Mikko Rantanen was selected 10th by the Colorado Avalanche. Oh wait, it gets better. How about Mathew Barzal, who was selected 16th by the New York Islanders? Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse. Kyle Connor, chosen 17th right after Barzal by the Winnipeg Jets. Of all these available players, then-general manager Don Maloney selected Dylan Strome? At a point where any one of the above-mentioned players besides Strome was available on the board, for some inexplicable reason, the Coyotes failed to choose the right player. Was it poor scouting or miscommunication that led to that fateful decision? In any case, it certainly hasn’t helped the Yotes move in the right direction.

Arizona Coyotes Draft History Leaves Much to be Desired

Even if Maloney and his scouting department felt that Marner’s size was an issue (which it certainly wasn’t), they had Rantanen (333 games, 129-G, 187-A, 16.9% shooting) who stands 6′-4″, weighing in at 215 pounds. While Strome comes in a 6′-3″, 200 pounds, that shouldn’t have been a reason to select Strome over Marner. Currently, Strome has 204 games played with 45 goals and 77 assists, good for 122 points. Mathew Barzal, on the other hand, has 289 games under his belt with 76 goals and 176 assists for 252 points. He shoots at an 11.6% accuracy rate. Connor, another player who could’ve lit the lamp for the Coyotes, has gathered 131 goals and 120 assists for 251 points in 305 contests.

The logic of selecting Strome escapes most hockey experts. Of course, at the time Maloney must have had some pretty good feelings about Strome being the future centre that the franchise has always needed to be a contender. Most Coyotes fans can only imagine what their team would look like today, or even a couple of years ago, with any other player listed above instead of Strome. Would they have won another Pacific Division title? Or even a Western Conference banner? It’s all history now.

Previously Drafted Players Don’t Stick Around Long

Even recent examples of the Arizona Coyotes draft history shows that only nine players dating back to the 2009 draft still remain with the organisation. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was drafted #6 that year and is still on the team — for the time being, at least. His trade rumours have been very active and it seems his time here in the desert has elapsed.  Christian Fischer who was drafted #32 in 2015, still remains on the roster today. He has, however, not been protected by the team in the upcoming expansion draft, so he too could be gone.

Another name in the 2015 draft, taken just a few picks after Fischer, is quite significant. Sebastian Aho was taken at #35 by the Carolina Hurricanes. Aho has outshined Fischer and most of the picks in 2015, tallying 145 goals and 175 assists in 366 NHL games and shooting at an accuracy rate of 14.3%. Fischer, meanwhile, has 38 goals and 36 assists in 265 games and is a 9.3% shooter. A case can be made in favor of Fischer, who is known more for his big frame and bigger hits. It boggles the mind to think what Aho could have been doing in the Arizona lineup. The Coyotes drafted Max Domi in 2013, with their #12 pick and he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June of 2018 for Alex Galchenyuk. To put it lightly, this was not a good trade.

Recent Draft Picks Have Remained

In that same 2015 draft, quite a few players have made the team and remain with them. Kyle Capobianco (#63), Adin Hill (#76) who was recently traded to the San Jose Sharks, and the most memorable Conor Garland #123 who is rumoured to be on the trading block. In 2016 the Coyotes drafted Clayton Keller at seventh overall and Jakob Chychrun at #16 who are not only still with the team, but starters who were protected in the expansion draft. Moving on to 2018, the Coyotes actually had the fifth overall selection and went with Barrett Hayton. He has not been playing like a top-five draft selection thus far in his career.

The other players in the 2018 draft still with the team include forward Jan Jenik at #65 who made his NHL debut in May with a goal in each of the two games he played. Goalie Ivan Prosvetov was selected at #114 and has been playing in the AHL with the Tucson Roadrunners. The 2019 draft saw the Desert Dogs select Victor Soderstrom at #11. He, too, got a glimpse of NHL play by participating in four games with a goal and an assist to his credit. Both Jenik and Soderstrom look to be attempting to make the 2021-22 roster, but will likely require more experience before making the next big leap.

The 2020 Draft Was Nothing Short of a Disaster

With only five draft selections starting with the fourth round, the team suffered dearly to build future prospects. That was due to training violations punishing the team for breaking the rules. The embarrassing 2020 draft was displayed by the epitome of their selection of Mitchell Miller at #111. His selection was eventually renounced after his history of assault and racism as a juvenile were spotlighted in a newspaper investigation. So, as it turned out, the team’s lowest draft selection was a wasted choice. They did however draft and sign forward Ben McCartney at #204. He was assigned to the AHL where he had one goal and four assists in five games.

The 2021 Draft is Full of Hope

This year new general manager Bill Armstrong will be able to participate in the draft process. Still, without a first-round pick (barring a trade), the team will have picks 37, 43, and 60 in the second round. They also possess two fourth-round selections, a fifth-rounder and a sixth-round pick. It’s a start to replenish the bare cupboards the team had before Armstrong’s arrival. With the team in a hybrid kind of rebuild, getting some draft picks is the way to go for building the team.

It’s unknown how many more draft picks Armstrong can pry away from other teams, but he is at least seeing the importance of having draft assets. His prowess was demonstrated explicitly by getting what he got in obtaining Andrew Ladd and a second-round 2021 pick in addition to two conditional picks for 2022 and 2023. It seems that the future drafts of the Coyotes will be upgraded extensively with Armstrong in charge.

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