The Arizona Coyotes 2017 campaign was once again disappointing. After losing their first 11 games of the season, the Coyotes were destined for a high draft choice and another long, dreadful season in Glendale.
The season was not a total failure, however. In the later months of the season, the younger crop of players such as Clayton Keller and Christian Dvorak continued to show promise as Coyotes fans are now starting to have hope for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. While still finishing with the third-lowest point total in the NHL at 70, the desert dogs are looking ahead to the NHL draft, and who they could select with their prime lottery position. Arizona has a 33.9% chance at a top-3 pick, and an 11.5% chance to select #1 overall. Who will be on the board when the Coyotes are on the clock?
Rasmus Dahlin, Defensemen, Sweden
Similar to the 2015 and 2016 NHL Drafts, there is little doubt about who will be selected with the first overall pick. Rasmus Dahlin of Sweden is considered to be a generational talent by almost all NHL scouts. His skillset is being compared to that of future NHL Hall of Famer Niklas Lidström and fellow Swedish defensemen Erik Karlsson. He was the named the best defenseman at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship and played for Sweden in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
The Coyotes would be a perfect fit for Dahlin, as fellow Swede and top defensemen Oliver Ekman Larsson has made it clear he wants a contract extension to stay in the desert. Dahlin will see NHL time immediately with whatever team selects him, and adding a generational defensive talent to go with the blossoming forwards on the team may be enough to push the Coyotes into a 2018 playoff spot.
Andrei Svechnikov, Right Wing, OHL
With rumors of Max Domi needing a change of scenery, Arizona may be inclined to further help their forward depth. Most NHL scouts have him ranked as the top North American player because the 18-year-old forward spent his amateur season in the OHL where he scored 72 points in 44 games. He is described as a silky-smooth skater with a great ability to finish off scoring chances. Svechnikov did suffer a hand injury during the season, but he played well enough after the injury to not concern any potential draft suitors. He is almost certainly going to be selected 2nd overall, after Dahlin.
Brady Tkachuk, Left Wing, Boston University
Brother to current NHLer Matthew Tkachuk, Brady Tkachuk is a 6-foot-3 power forward who is described to play the game “physically, aggressive and with a significant amount of skill.” His best work comes from using his sheer size to be a net-front presence, but he will not necessarily blaze by you in a foot race. Tkachuk is also from Scottsdale, making him a prime target for the Coyotes. He is sure to be an entertaining player, who is not afraid to use his body to create scoring chances for either himself or his teammates.
Filip Zadina, Left Wing, QMJHL
After an impressive showing at the 2018 World Juniors, Filip Zadina has been rising up many draft boards. Playing in the QMJHL for the Halifax Mooseheads, the same team that has other top picks such as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Timo Meier, there is a reason to trust the Halifax development program, making Zadina more of a safe-pick compared to others. He is very similar to Brady Tkachuk, as his offensive ability is undeniable, but still lacks the fleet-footedness that you would hope to find in an elite-winger. Despite this, he is regarded as one of the best stick handlers in the draft, dicing and twisting his way around defenders rather than skating by them.
Adam Boqvist, Defenceman, Sweden
While there is a debate about who the second-best defenceman is after Dahlin, one of the favorites is Adam Boqvist. Similar to other Swedish defensemen, Boqvist is a slick skater with a ton of offensive upside. He has the ability to dangle and weave around the offensive zone, but has shown discipline in keeping his game simple and not trying to force passes. His shot is quick and accurate as he much prefers to quick wrister compared to a large slap shot.
His defensive game is where you hear questions. His lack of size means he has to use his stick in order to disrupt attacking forwards. He simply does not have the physical strength to push NHL attackers off the puck. If the Coyotes draft him, it may be a season or two before he makes a direct impact in the NHL. However, in a league where the need for offensive-minded defensemen continues to grow, Boqvist may be a nice compliment to Oliver Ekman Larsson.
The 2018 draft class is one of the more deep-classes in recent memory. After a strong showing during the second-half of the season, the Coyotes need a little luck with the lottery and some key offseason moves in order to compete for a playoff spot next season. Regardless of what happens in the lottery, there is not necessarily a bad pick for the Coyotes to make.