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'Best Player Available' Drives Coyotes 2019 Draft Strategy

John Chayka's Hockey Operations Staff Looks To Supplement And Add To The Team's Already Strong Foundation

by Arizona Coyotes @ArizonaCoyotes

Sometimes there's a glaring void that needs tending to.

Sometimes there's not. Sometimes, as the case is with Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and GM John Chayka's hockey operations department leading into the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21 in Vancouver, B.C., there's a foundation that's already been laid through years of meticulous work -- a strong foundation -- one that calls for the security of an up-and-coming support system.

Relatively rich in all areas of the game: goaltending, defense, and forwards, the Coyotes' clear deficiency during the 2018-19 season was their struggle to stay healthy.

"Ultimately we've got a lot in this group [right now]," Chayka said. "We've got a lot coming too, and with that, plenty of ability throughout this group to score more, and that's been my assessment as I work through all of the options and alternatives."

To accurately gauge last season's roster, one that was among the league leaders in man games lost due to injury, would be rather complex. If there's anything to come of what would have, could have been, it likely would center around a stark increase in scoring, more games won, and a not-so-far-fetched belief that a playoff spot would have been attained.

"We're in a position where we've got a lot of depth across all areas of our team, we've got a team in place now where we're not looking to add four, five, or six pieces," Chayka said. "The majority of our team is in place, and in place for a very long time."

Now, it's about adding to an already fairly balanced roster, to selecting #14 overall, where the mindset, which will likely ring true with their seven additional picks to come thereafter, will harp on going after the best player available on the board.

"When you're looking at the draft, you're looking at 'are there assets that we can add to our organization that would otherwise be very difficult to trade for'," Chayka noted. "As we look through the possibilities at #14, there are a lot of talented players there, and depending on how it shakes out with the first 13 picks, we know that we're going to get a good player regardless of how that works."

Chayka and his staff can look at the recently completed 2019 Stanley Cup Final to find three examples of star NHL players who were selected with the 14th overall pick in previous drafts. The Boston Bruins boasted two of such; Jake DeBrusk (2015) and Charlie McAvoy (2016), while the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues featured the highly impactful Jaden Schwartz (2010).  

That player selected in the first round, and the handful to follow in the later stages of the draft, will not serve as instant fixtures on the NHL roster, but a future piece to a strong core that, Chayka stressed, "needs to be supplemented and added to."

To build a Stanley Cup-caliber roster means consistent work to fit its needs. "In order to achieve our goal and be a contending team for a long time, we've got to keep building without a doubt."

"We're excited about the foundation we've laid, we're excited about the players that are coming up, we think there may be a few special opportunities that might present themselves to add to this group and the draft's the best time," Chayka said. "We anticipate on being very active and we hope to execute."

The Coyotes currently have eight picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, including two selections in the third and sixth rounds: Round 1 (#14), Round 2 (#45), Round 3 (#74, #76), Round 4 (#107), Round 6 (#174, #176), Round 7 (#200).

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