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LeBlanc Grateful Coyotes Didn’t Lose Ground at NHL Draft Lottery

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

TORONTO – The Coyotes entered the NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday night owning the seventh overall pick in the upcoming draft, and they left the annual event at the CBC headquarters with that seventh pick still in pocket.

“I’m grateful that we didn’t slip,” said President & CEO Anthony LeBlanc, who represented the Coyotes at the lottery. “We went through that process last year and that’s a difficult pill to swallow so I am glad that we stuck at seven… We’re going to pick at No. 7 which means we’re going to pick a very quality future NHL player.”

Under the lottery format, Arizona had a 6.5 percent chance to move up from No. 7 to win the No. 1 pick, a 6.9 percent chance to win the No. 2 pick and a 7.2 percent chance to win the No. 3 pick. However, Arizona also had a 27.9 percent chance to stay at No. 7 and that’s exactly what happened.

The Coyotes were hoping to win the top pick because the player most experts believe should be drafted first is Scottsdale native Auston Matthews, who recently said he began playing hockey because he was a fan of the Coyotes when he was a kid.

“Obviously, this was a more emotional (lottery) because of the connection to the presumptive No. 1 pick,” LeBlanc said. “…We would've liked to have received it, but we're going into preparing for this draft with two very good (first-round) picks.”

In addition to picking seventh at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in June in Buffalo, the Coyotes also will pick 20th thanks to the trade that sent defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers last season.

With junior stars Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini waiting in the wings, the Coyotes are in good shape at the forward position with regards to prospects. Defense is another story, and may be the focus of this year’s draft strategy.

“What we as the Coyotes front office and our fan base needs to look at is where are the areas that we really need some help as a club,” LeBlanc said. “I was talking with all these gentlemen that I had the pleasure of sitting with for the (lottery) broadcast, and everybody talks to us and says you’ve got just an amazing crop of young prospects coming up, in particular in the forward position. Look, there’s some really exciting defensive prospects in this draft right around where we’re going to pick (at No. 7). So while we're all sitting here disappointed because of the fact that we didn't get No. 1, from a fan-base perspective and from what we’re going to do as a team, this is going to work out OK. We’re going to get two very good players this year.”

The Coyotes/Jets franchise has picked seventh only once before at the NHL Entry Draft. That happened in 1995 when Winnipeg selected Shane Doan.

Here are the final results of the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery:

1. Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Calgary Flames
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Montreal Canadiens
10. Colorado Avalanche
11. New Jersey Devils
12. Ottawa Senators
13. Carolina Hurricanes
14. Boston Bruins
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