The Coyotes’ focus in this year’s daft was plain to see: Forwards! Forwards! Forwards!
When the final tally was in Saturday evening, Arizona had selected seven forwards (two centers, four left wings and a right wing) along with two defensemen.
"It wasn’t by design per se," General Manager Don Maloney said. "But I’m really happy certainly that with our earlier picks we were able to get a couple more center icemen and then add some intriguing prospects."
None of the picks is expected to make a push for a roster spot next season, but they will be on display for the public when the Coyotes hold their prospect development camp July 8-10 at the Ice Den in Scottsdale.
When that takes place, another trend will be clear to the fan base. The Coyotes added size and speed this weekend. Eight of the nine players selected are 6-feet tall or bigger; five of them had scouting reports that noted their strong skating ability.
"We all saw the Western Conference playoffs with Anaheim and San Jose and certainly the Stanley Cup champions (Los Angeles)," Maloney said. "If we want to get to that level, those are areas we need to look at."
The team’s first two picks of on Day 2 were 6-foot-3 center Ryan MacInnis and Max Domi’s London Knights’ teammate, Christian Dvorak, who is listed as a left wing, but whom the team views as a playmaking center.
MacInnis is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis who won a Stanley Cup with Calgary in his 23-season career. His size could be a big advantage given his top notch passing skills. Dvorak suffered a torn ACL in mid-December and missed half the season, but will be fully healthy when he returns to juniors next season. Maloney compared him to the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan, calling him a "cerebral player."
Adding centers was important for the organization, but perhaps the two most intriguing picks came in the third round (right wing Anton Karlsson) and the seventh round (left wing Edgars Kulda).
Karlsson was the youngest player on Sweden’s silver medal winning team at the 2014 World Junior Championship and he earned that right by playing a physical, in-your-face style that surprised Maloney when he watched the tournament.
"I like to be a little bit of a pain in the ass for the other team," Karlsson said. "I like crashing the net. I like to bang bodies and I want be a leader."
Kulda was the MVP of the Memorial Cup for the Edmonton Oil Kings — an honor some thought might elevate his draft stock.
"At that stage in the seventh round, to find a kid with that skill level, you say, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it,’" Maloney said.
Not much was accomplished on the trade front on Saturday. Maloney said almost every manager he talked to agreed to table those discussions for a day to focus on the draft.
The Coyotes would like to add a center, though it will more likely be of the third-line variety to play behind Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal. They’d also like to add a scoring wing, which could mean bringing back Radim Vrbata if the demand doesn’t drive his price too high. And Maloney said he has several candidates for the backup goalie position and expects to fill that spot soon.