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Winning the 2022 top overall pick isn't as important to the Coyotes as you think

Craig Morgan Avatar
May 10, 2022

Before the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago, experts were split on which player would go first overall. Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick each earned a large share of votes, with no other player really coming close.

There’s a lesson from 2017 that can be applied to the 2022 draft, said Chris Peters, an NHL Draft and prospects analyst for Daily Faceoff and his Substack, Hockey Sense

While Hischier and Patrick did go first and second overall to New Jersey and Philadelphia, respectively, neither player would likely be among the top three choices in a re-draft of those prospects five years later. That honor would likely go to the players selected at No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5: Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen, Colorado defenseman Cale Makar and Vancouver center Elias Pettersson.

“Shane Wright is an excellent player,” Peters said of the presumed 2022 top pick. “He’s a high-end prospect, but relative to the guys that we’ve seen go number one in the last few years, you’re not getting a sure-fire, franchise-changing prospect and I think you could probably say the same thing about whoever you take in that number one spot. ”

Remember that as you watch the NHL Draft Lottery at 3:30 p.m. (Arizona time) on Tuesday on ESPN. Sure, it would calm some conspiracy theories to see the Coyotes land a top-two pick for the first time in Arizona franchise history, but it’s not nearly as important as you think; at least not at this early stage of evaluation.

If Coyotes fans are hoping for a one-time dose of luck, they might want to hold off on those prayers, talismans or crystals until 2023 when Regina Pats center Connor Bedard, SKA St. Petersburg forward Matvei Michkov and Chicago Steel center Adam Fantilli sit at the top of the draft.

“I’d rather have a crack at Bedard, Michkov and Fantilli than any of the top three this year,” Peters said. “Plus, there are some other guys that look like a big deal for next year.”

We’ll see about 2023, but the Coyotes have the second-best odds at landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft, and they can fall no further than fourth. The widespread consensus among scouts is that the top handful of players — perhaps even seven or eight deep — is comparable in ability at this early stage of their development and projection. Whoever the Coyotes get in the top four, they’re going to get a good player and we won’t know if he’s one of the best player for several years.

Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright is the consensus top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. (Getty Images)

“The odds are that Shane Wright is a number one center in the NHL,” Peters said. “He’s a good two-way guy with good hockey sense, but he’s not especially dynamic. So then you look at Logan Cooley, who is dynamic and fast but he’s not big; a 5-11 center, probably 5-10, and not a ton of those guys are No. 1 centers in the NHL.

“Juraj Slafkovsky had an incredible Olympics, he’s got size, he’s got shooting ability and he’s got skill, but when you look at his numbers throughout his pro season this year in Finland, guys that go in the top five tend to produce at a level that’s much higher than he produced. Šimon Nemec couldn’t get into the lineup in the Olympics, but he had a big season in Slovakia. All of these guys have traits that suggest that they could be high-end players in the NHL, but there is not a single guy in this class where you say, ‘That guy’s a superstar.’”

Peters thinks there may even be an advantage to picking after No. 1, and he’s not alone.

“Shane Wright continues to be the default number one because no one has seized that crown from him, but let’s say you are picking number one,” Peters said. “What does the pressure say you have to do? Who does the public say you have to pick? It’s always Shane Wright and in the conversations that I’ve had with scouts, that pressure is a factor in who gets to go number one, even if you’re not sure he’ll be the right guy a few years down the road.”

This is not meant to diminish Wright’s abilities, but there are real concerns about his ability to be a star.

“To put it in perspective, Shane Wright’s points-per-game production among first overall picks from the OHL is the lowest we’ve seen since Rick Nash (2002),” Peters said. “He’s a little bit ahead of where Rick Nash was in his draft year and Rick Nash was playing in a time where scoring was not as high in that league. 

“There’s a real concern with Wright among people that I’ve talked to that after having lost that year of development during COVID, he didn’t necessarily take a huge step forward from two years ago like some other guys did. So how much of that is tied to missing a year of development? Or is he closer to his ceiling than we think? That was one of the arguments about Alexis Lafrenière a couple years ago as well. How close is he to his ceiling? How much better can he get?” 

The Coyotes may not have to worry about that question if they don’t land the No.1 pick but they will have to make a choice with one of the next three picks. Here are eight players most widely viewed as possibilities among the top four picks where the Coyotes will choose.

HC Plzeň’s David Jiříček (left) is considered one of the top two defensemen in this draft. Here, he battles 2023 presumed No. 1 pick Connor Bedard in a preliminary game of the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton in December. The event was eventually postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. (Getty Images)

Shane Wright
Position: Center
Age: 18
Height/weight: 6-1, 187
Shoots: Right
Team (league): Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
2021-22 stats: 63 games, 32 goals, 94 points
An analyst’s take: https://www.thedraftanalyst.com/2022-nhl-draft/2022-draft-profile-c-shane-wright/

Logan Cooley
Position: Center
Age: 18
Height/weight: 5-10, 174
Shoots: Left
Team (league): USA 18/NTDP (USHL)
2021-22 stats: 75 games, 40 goals, 111 points
An analyst’s take: https://www.mckeenshockey.com/nhl-blog/2022-nhl-draft-report-usa-logan-cooley-c-ntdp/

Juraj Slafkovsky
Position: Wing
Age: 18
Height/weight: 6-4, 218
Shoots: Left
Team (league): TPS U20/TPS (Liiga, Finland)
2021-22 stats: 11 games, 6 goals, 18 points; 31 games, 5 goals, 10 points
An analyst’s take: https://dobberprospects.com/player/juraj-slafkovksy/

Šimon Nemec
Position: Defense
Age: 18
Height/weight: 6-1, 192 
Shoots: Right
Team (league): HK Nitra (Extraliga, Slovakia)
2021-22 stats: 39 games, 1 goal, 26 points
An analyst’s take: https://www.thedraftanalyst.com/2022-nhl-draft/2022-draft-profile-rhd-simon-nemec/

Joakim Kemell
Position: Wing
Age: 18
Height/weight: 5-11, 176
Shoots: Right
Team (league): JYP (Liiga, Finland)
2021-22 stats: 39 games, 15 goals, 23 points
An analyst’s take: https://www.mckeenshockey.com/nhl-blog/2022-nhl-draft-report-finland-joakim-kemell-rw-jyp-liiga/

David Jiříček
Position: Defense
Age: 18
Height/weight: 6-3, 190
Shoots: Right
Team (league): HC Plzeň (Extraliga, Czechia)
2021-22 stats: 29 games, 5 goals, 11 points
An analyst’s take: https://draftprospectshockey.com/draftpro-get-to-know-david-jiricek/

Matthew Savoie
Position: Center
Age: 18
Height/weight: 5-9, 179
Shoots: Right
Team (league): Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
2021-22 stats: 65 games, 35 goals, 90 points
An analyst’s take: https://dobberprospects.com/player/matthew-savoie/

Cutter Gauthier
Position: Center/wing
Age: 18
Height/weight: 6-3, 194
Shoots: Left
Team (league): USA 18/NTDP (USHL)
2021-22 stats: 76 games, 53 goals, 93 points
An analyst’s take: https://www.thedraftanalyst.com/2022-nhl-draft/2022-draft-profile-lw-cutter-gauthier/

USA NTDP forward Cutter Gauthier is one of the fastest rising players on NHL draft boards. (Getty Images)

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