GLENDALE -- The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is fast approaching and the Coyotes, who currently own four of the first 73 picks, are ready to go.
“There’s just a lot of good-looking players at every position. So, we’re excited… we’re in pretty good shape going in,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said.
NOTE: See chart at right for a list of the Coyotes' picks by round:
Many draft enthusiasts are comparing the high level of talent available in this year’s draft to the talent in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft which featured current NHL stars Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and others.
“That draft in ’03 was a terrific draft so time will tell, but certainly as we sit here today it looks good,” Maloney said. “We’re picking at No. 12. … We think we could move down to as low as No. 22 or No. 23 and still get a very good player. We’ll see how things shake out.”
Unlike recent two-day drafts, this year’s draft will be a one-day event that takes place on Sunday, June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
“It’s going to be quite different because you don’t have that reset night after your first round to see who went, review your list and gear up again,” Maloney said. “That will make for a little more intrigue. I think it’ll be a little longer, quite frankly, because teams will need to spend more time and make sure they have their ducks in order.”
Seth Jones, a defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), is the No. 1 ranked prospect by NHL Central Scouting heading into this draft. He is followed by Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) teammates center Nathan MacKinnon at No. 2 and left wing Jonathan Drouin at No. 3.
The Coyotes selected a defenseman with their first pick for three drafts in a row until last year when they picked a forward - Henrik Samuelsson - with the 27th overall choice. Logic suggests that will happen again as Phoenix looks to complement its collection of talented young defensemen in the system with another scorer. Then again, if a talented, highly-touted defenseman slips to the Coyotes with their No. 12 pick, a la Brandon Gormley in 2010, they could pounce.
“There’s certain things we like in players,” Maloney said. “We like intelligence, compete, speed, size. If you look at our (realigned) division next year … it’s not getting any slower and it’s not getting any smaller.”
NOTE: Click here to view final prospect rankings.
Rick Knickle, the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Coyotes, and his staff have been preparing for this year’s draft for nearly a year. Recently the staff gathered in Glendale for a week to prepare the team’s list of players it would consider drafting. Interviews with about 100 prospects followed at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto. The amateur scouting staff will gather again in New Jersey a few days before the draft to finalize the list.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of running around, and a lot of nights away from home, but it’s really the pipeline of your whole organization,” Maloney said. “If you draft well, the manager looks great. If you don’t draft great, I’m probably looking for another job. So, that’s how valuable the draft is. We feel like we’ve done a good job, but we need to do a better job going forward and just find more players.”
Trades are often part of the annual draft and this year likely will be no exception.
“Last year we came up a little short so we’d like to be better,” Maloney said. “We’d like to add some pieces and that starts now. You don’t wake up on June 30 and think, ‘OK, let’s make some deals.’ It’s been busy, and needless to say it’ll be very busy leading up to the draft and beyond.”