The Arizona Coyotes will select 14th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft and the team must go forward-heavy with their picks across the board.
It is a shame the hockey gods were not kind enough to see the Arizona Coyotes leapfrog into a top-three pick, but there are plenty of solid options throughout this year’s draft class.
The team is coming off the back of a season that saw them miss the post-season by just four points, thanks to some stellar defence and heroics from goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
Rick Tocchet‘s team performed exceptionally down the stretch and finished the season boasting one of the top defensive corps in the entire NHL.
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The Coyotes finished the season with the joint-best penalty killing unit, which had an 85% success rating across 82 games, tying with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets – both now competing in the playoffs.
Tocchet’s side allowed the joint-fifth fewest number of goals against across the 2018/19 season, seeing opponents beat their goaltenders just 220 times (tied with the St. Louis Blues).
The biggest issue for the team, however, has been their offence – or lack thereof.
The team registered the joint-third lowest amount of goals for this season, with just 209, and had the sixth-worst power-play unit in the entire league with success coming just 16.3% of the time.
The Coyotes are set at defence for quite some time, with Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Noel Hoefenmayer and Kevin Bahl currently developing in juniors while they have the likes of Kyle Capobianco and Robbie Russo beginning to emerge in the minors.
The biggest concern is the team’s lack of forward prospect depth, with Barrett Hayton currently the biggest name prospect in the team’s system.
With the team now knowing where they will be picking in the 2019 draft, general manager John Chayka now needs to focus his attention on building up the team’s depth of prospects on offence.
The past three drafts have done much to build the Coyotes’ defensive depth, with a couple of top forward prospects sprinkled in there.
In last year’s draft, the Arizona Coyotes had nine total picks and spent four of them on the blueline, with only three going on forwards and two going on goaltenders.
The previous draft, the Coyotes again had nine picks but spent five of them on defence (include their first rounder on Joseph) and the remaining four on forwards.
2016 saw the team have just five total selections, with all-but-one of them going to help build their blueline – with one pick going on Jakob Chychrun and the solitary forward selection being Clayton Keller.
With 13 out of a possible 23 picks going solely on defence over the past three drafts, it’s time for Chakya to focus his energy on finding the very best forward prospects he can in this year’s draft.
The team’s first-round pick must certainly be used on a goalscoring forward, but throughout the draft, a strong focus on forwards with goalscoring upside and potential must also be a top priority.
There are plenty of promising players that could be available in the middle rounds, so it would be nice to see the team take advantage of a fairly deep draft class and truly bolster their future options.
What do you think Coyotes fans? Should the team favour offensive picks or should they stick to a ‘best player available’ mentality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!