PHILADELPHIA -- With no obvious No. 1 overall pick, the 2014 NHL Draft promises to be a fascinating one.
And with eight total picks, including No. 12 overall and three of the first 58, the Coyotes can’t wait for the curtain to rise at Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.
Only five teams – Dallas, Los Angeles, the N.Y. Islanders, St. Louis and Washington – will enter the weekend with more picks than the Coyotes at this draft; each have nine.
Round No. 1 is Friday (4 p.m. AZ time on NBC Sports Network) with Rounds Nos. 2-7 set for Saturday (7 a.m. AZ time on NHL Network).
The Coyotes currently own the following picks: Nos. 12, 43, 58, 73, 133, 163, 191, and 193.
Tim Bernhardt, whom the Coyotes announced as the team’s new Director of Amateur Scouting on June 19, says the scouting staff is prepared for the hectic weekend and has its eyes on two or three players it believes will still be available when the Coyotes pick 12th overall on Friday.
Experts are predicting lots of wheeling and dealing before and likely during the first round, and Bernhardt said the Coyotes would be ready.
“We're well prepared," Bernhardt said. "We've gone through many situations ... and hopefully everything falls where we want it to fall and we can go from there.”
General Manager Don Maloney has said because the talent in the first round of the draft is so comparable after the elite prospects will be chosen with the first four or five picks, the Coyotes can be very flexible with the No. 12 selection. He has suggested the team would seriously consider moving down as low as No. 20 if the right offer comes along for No. 12.
“From No. 5 down to No. 20 there are real good players there,” Maloney said.
Barring a trade, this year marks the second consecutive year the Coyotes will pick 12th overall in the Draft. Last year, the team selected forward Max Domi 12th overall.
Bernhardt, who spent 14 years as Director of Amateur Scouting for the Dallas Stars from 1998-2011, is known for his track record in the later rounds of the draft. For example, the Stars selected Coyotes goalie Mike Smith and current Stars captain Jamie Benn in the fifth rounds of their respective drafts on Bernhardt’s watch.
“The key is to try to work through seven rounds of the draft because there are players there and you just have to find them,” Bernhardt said.
Maloney was asked if the Coyotes’ draft philosophy is one of drafting by positional need or by taking the best player available, regardless of position.
His response: “Because we’re dealing with players who are 17, 18, maybe 19 years old, you go for the best talent. You’re looking at least a three- to four-year development period. If there is a present need factor, that normally does not enter into the immediate selection process.”
He added, the Coyotes covet young players who are fast.
“We need more speed into our lineup,” Maloney said. “You start looking around at the teams we’re playing against all the time, and speed is vital.”