GLENDALE – General Manager Don Maloney was on a flight to Europe on Saturday night when the Edmonton Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, knocking the Coyotes from the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft to No. 3. When Maloney’s flight landed in Switzerland, he quickly learned of the news via multiple messages. He was not surprised.
|Don Maloney. Photo by Dave Vest. |
"Honestly, I didn’t stress or overthink it," Maloney said. "The odds were against us winning the lottery or even staying at No. 2."
Indeed. The Coyotes had only a 13.5 percent chance to win the lottery and just a 20 percent of staying at No. 2. Neither happened, and now the Coyotes can focus on what they will do with the No. 3 pick at the draft on June 26.
Centers Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are expected to go first (to Edmonton) and second (to Buffalo), respectively, at the draft. The consensus is both are immediate impact players.
Maloney said picking third at this year’s draft still is great news for the team because there are a half dozen or so high-quality prospects available beyond McDavid and Eichel.
Dylan Strome, a high-scoring center playing for Erie in the OHL, and defenseman Noah Hanifin, a solid two-way defenseman who starred for Boston College, attended the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto. Both are expected to be available when the Coyotes take their turn at No. 3 – if they indeed keep the pick. Other prospects include forward Mitch Marner (London, OHL), forward Lawson Crouse (Kingston, OHL) and defenseman Ivan Provorov (Brandon, OHL).
"There’s still work to be done… but we have a pretty good idea of who we want," Maloney said. "But we still have the NHL Combine - physical testing, interviews and spending time with the players… If the draft was today, that’s one thing. We’ve got two months to poke and prod and make sure who we’re getting fits."
Head Coach Dave Tippett watched the NHL Draft Lottery with other members of the team’s Hockey Operations and training staffs. While disappointed the lottery did not go Arizona’s way, Tippett said it's not a catastrophic turn of events and it does not change the team’s mind-set moving forward.
"We’ve been able to thrive when we’ve had the most adversity," Tippett told Arizona TV station 12 News. "…You’re still going to get a very good player at No. 3."
He added: "There’s a lot of work to be done. We fully expect to be competitive and compete for a playoff spot next year. To do that there’s going to have to be a lot of work done this summer, and not just talking about it, we’ve got to start doing some things."