By Tom Hunter (@)
**Of course, a little over 12 hours after I post this John Chayka makes a trade to bring in another pick, the Coyotes received 120 overall in exchange for prospect Maxim Letunov.
Back in May, when John Chayka was hired as the new General Manager of the Arizona Coyotes, it marked an organizational shift. Chayka is now the youngest general manager in NHL history and will go into next weekend’s draft hoping to prove he is the perfect fit for the job. With the trade for the negotiating rights of Alex Goligoski this past week, Chayka showed that he is not averse to moving draft picks in order to help his team immediately.
That said, Chayka’s background in hockey suggests that he is a guy that understands the value of drafting and developing. This year’s draft will be his first opportunity to take the reigns and add some high-end prospects to the organization that fit exactly with his vision.
Like the Maple Leafs, the Coyotes have two first-round picks – their own at 7 and the 20th overall that they acquired from the Rangers in the Keith Yandle trade last year. With the compensatory pick they received from the night signing Connor Bleakley, the Coyotes have four picks in the top 53, and another at 68 overall. After that early third round pick, Chayka & Co will have a lot of waiting to do as they don’t pick again until 158 overall.
The Coyotes will be doing a lot of their heavy lifting early in the draft. This is the new management team’s first opportunity to build in their image so we’ll have to wait and see just what sort of philosophy John Chayka goes with.
Here are the prospects I would target with the seven picks the Coyotes currently own.
7. Jakob Chychrun – D – Sarnia, OHL
Chychrun began the season as the consensus top defender in this year’s draft. Through the year, he has fallen to 2, 3 or even 4th best on some draft rankings but with very little cause. He is by my estimation they best defensive prospect in the draft and a lot of the warts found on his game are a result of being overplayed in Sarnia. Chychrun was played in every situation, against the top opposition and logged minutes that will run down any 17-year old.
Ollie Juolevi was sheltered through most of the season in London in a way Chychrun certainly was not. Of the two, Chychrun has a much higher floor to his potential.
He’s a big, talented defender that has the makeup and talent that makes him the kind of guy you can see on a team’s top pair in the not too distant future. The one question mark is his shoulders. A team drafting Chychrun in the top-10 will have to make sure they have all their due diligence done from a medical standpoint.
20. Max Jones – W – London, OHL
There is a very good chance that Jones doesn’t make it to the 20th pick, but if he does it’s hard to see the Coyotes passing on him. He is a big, tough, incredibly skilled winger that will look amazing in the NHL.
His offensive numbers were a bit stunted this year as a result of playing behind so much talent in London, but when their top line was away, Jones stepped up and dominated. He plays with an edge that often overshadows just how talented he actually is. Jones would instantly become the team’s top wing prospect and might only be a year or two from the NHL.
You’ll hear a comparison to Milan Lucic because os the tough style he plays with, but that should instantly be ignored as Jones is a far better skater and has much more skill than Lucic has ever had. I’ve said it on Twitter – I think Max Jones outscores Matthew Tkachuk in London next season and I stand by that prediction.
37. Adam Fox – D – USNDT
Adam Fox is a guy who has been flying up the draft boards recently thanks to a tremendous performance at the U18 tournament this spring. He had a great season playing with the USNDT and is destined for Harvard in the fall.
Fox is a right-handed shooting defender that is incredible with the puck on his stick. He’s smart, poised, and makes decisions with the puck that usually only come from much more mature players.
He’s small for a defender but his hockey IQ has him always in sound defensive positioning to counter any lack of reach he might have. His skating is only above average and not what you usually expect from a defender his size but his mind more than makes up for it. He’s a great powerplay quarterback but a guy that might have to adapt his offensive game slightly to be successful at the next level.
53. Jonathan Dahlen – F – Timra IK, Sweden
Dahlen is very impressive with the puck on his stick. He drives the zone well and even though he is a little undersized, he does a great job of shielding the puck. He doesn’t have then best acceleration but his lateral movement makes him very elusive as a puck carrier.
Dahlen has a good shot with quick release and was very impressive from an offensive perspective at the 2015 U18 tournament for Sweden. He gives the impression of a player that will develop into a very good secondary player that plays well off of a guy like Max Domi.
Dahlen would look pretty good learning the ways of North American hockey in Tucson next season.
68. Noah Gregor – F – Moose Jaw, WHL
Gregor averaged over a point per game in his first full season in the WHL. Gregor is a speedy, offensively gifted player that can play any forward position.
He is a tremendous skater both from a speed and agility perspective. He has elite acceleration and top-end speed but also excels with his lateral movement. He’s got great instincts for when he should be a playmaker but also has a great shot with a quick release.
Consistency and physicality are two things that Gregor is going to have to work on as he continues to develop.
120. Domenic Commisso – C – Oshawa, OHL
Commisso is an undersized center that had a great second half to his rookie season in Oshawa. When watching him play, you instantly notice how great a skater Commisso is. He has incredible speed and an elusiveness needed to keep possession against bigger defenders. He has great vision and is a wonderful playmaker.
Commisso is more than an offensively gifted forward has he as a very strong two-way game for someone his age. He will kill penalties and plays responsible in all three zones.
He is a candidate for a breakout draft+1 year in the OHL next season.
158. David Quenneville – D – Medicine Hat, WHL
Quenneville is small for any position but especially by defenseman standards. At 5’8, 180lbs, he will fall this far in the draft because he has trouble when the game turns physical and scouts will believe that he’ll never be able to compete against NHL forwards.
That said, Quenneville is an incredible offensive defenseman. He had 55 points – 41 assists – from the blueline and shows a poise with the puck that if he were 6’2 would put him in the conversation for the first round.
He has good vision and a great first pass to lead the breakout. He doesn’t shy away from physicality but his size often leaves him on the short and of many confrontations. His puck-moving ability and offensive game will give him a shot to be in the NHL one day.
188. Tyler Wall – G – Leamington, GOJHL
Drafting a goalie named Wall, is there anything that makes more sense?
Tyler Wall had an incredible sv% this season while playing against far lesser opposition that many in the draft. He’s destined for the NCAA and will need to prove next season at UMass-Lowell that he is a legitimate NHL prospect.
He’s a big quick goalie that could go undrafted for a year before he can prove himself against a higher caliber of opponent, but he has the potential that is likely worth a flier late in the draft.
To learn more about this year’s draft prospects check out our extensive consolidated rankings post here.