Coyotes GM Colin Small gives a detailed first-hand accounting of his club's Dispersal Draft, including the aftermath and projected opening night lineup.
Arizona entered the draft well-prepared with multiple spreadsheets of ranked players and a lengthy draft board listing out what players were wanted for each position, from top-pairing defensemen to fourth-line left-wing. We planned to pick position-by-position and work our way down from the first line and first pairing, to second line and second pairing, and so on.
But as soon as the draft was underway, all bets were off. Owing to the variety of draft strategies general managers were employing on draft day, we saw players that we had marked for the third line going in the top 5 rounds, and players we had marked for the first line going after the 10th round.
We realized quite quickly that sticking to our original plans was not going to work. It pays to be agile, and we’re quite happy with our draft despite abandoning our original strategies after the first few rounds. That said, it was always our plan to draft with speed and skating as a priority, and we believe we stuck to that plan well.
We were always planning to pick our number one center with our first pick in the draft, but we weren’t expecting Brayden Point to fall to us at the 24th pick. We wavered between picking Point and Mark Scheifele, but opted for the younger Point.
With our number one center set, we wanted to establish a strong top-pair on our backend. We picked the young offensive dynamo Quinn Hughes with our second pick in the draft, and we are excited to have him locked up at $2,500,000 for four years to come. We were also delighted to pick defenseman Alex Pietrangelo next, giving Hughes a steady veteran partner.
It was at the next pick that our draft strategy started to fall apart. We certainly weren’t expecting to pick Anze Kopitar with our next pick, but we couldn’t pass up the best player available at our pick. Picking Kopitar gave us the versatility to either run Kopitar and Point down the middle 1-2, or run Point on Kopitar’s right wing.
After picking Kopitar, we caught the tail end of the goalie run and unfortunately missed out on our top ranked goalies John Gibson and Matt Murray. We ended up taking a risk on Pavel Francouz, who has shown promise but has yet to establish himself as a bonafide starting goalie.
We were quite happy with how our team was shaping up at this point in the draft despite straying from our original strategy, but we soon suffered in rounds seven and eight as a result of doing so. We panicked in round seven, having been caught off-guard by the draft clock and being away from our draft list at that time.
We picked defensive prospect Henri Jokiharju with our seventh-round pick, and while we are happy with the pick, he wasn’t who we had at the top of our now-fluid draft list. Neither was our next pick. Disaster struck in round eight, and we missed our pick in the round entirely. We were awarded forward David Perron at the end of the round, but we’re actually quite happy with this pick. Perron fits well in our top-6, and we hope to re-sign him this coming season.
The next few rounds saw us fill out our top-6 with forwards Filip Chytil and Phil Kessel, establish our third-line center with Derek Stepan, Craig Smith, and Daminik Kahun, fill out defense with Brandon Montour, Nate Schmidt, and Shayne Gostisbehere, and pick up our backup goaltender Casey DeSmith. We happily filled out our AHL team, draft picks, and prospects with the rest of the picks in the draft.
We were active post-draft too, filling some holes in our roster and addressing some of our team’s weaknesses via trades with the other general managers.
At the end of the day, we brought in:
F Clayton Keller
F Tyler Pitlick
D Marc-Edouard Vlasic
COL 6th 2020
MTL 6th 2020
COL 7th 2020
MTL 7th 2020
In exchange for:
F Filip Chytil
D Shayne Gostisbehere
F Philip Tomasino (P)
F Isak Walther (P)
G Tomas Vomacka (P)
ARI 7th 2021
The expected opening night lineup for the 2020-2021 Arizona Coyotes is:
Phil Kessel - Anze Kopitar - Clayton Keller
David Perron - Brayden Point - Robert Thomas
Dominik Kahun - Derek Stepan - Craig Smith
Mattias Janmark - Jujhar Khaira - Tyler Pitlick
Quinn Hughes - Alex Pietrangelo
Nate Schmidt - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Henri Jokiharju - Brandon Montour