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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Opted for Offense at NHL Draft

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

NEWARK, N.J. – The Coyotes added four forwards, a defenseman and a goalie with a familiar last name to the organization on Sunday at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft at the Prudential Center.

“I think it went really, really well,” Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle said afterward, noting that the Coyotes came to this one-day draft focused on selecting offensive players.

Phoenix used its first three picks on forwards.

Max Domi

First up was center Max Domi, whom the Coyotes claimed with the 12th overall selection.

Domi notched 39 goals and 48 assists in 64 games for London of the OHL last season. His 87 points were the most on the team. He also was plus-33.

“Max has excelled and scored at every level he has been at and been a leader on his team everywhere he’s played,” Knickle said. “He’s a really mature player who plays at both ends of the rink.”

Domi, who is the son of former NHL tough guy Tie Domi, is the third consecutive player the Coyotes have drafted with their first pick in the first round whose father was an NHL player. Phoenix picked Connor Murphy, son of Gord, in 2011, and Henrik Samuelsson, son of Ulf, in 2012.

“We’re very close and we talk every day, and he’s always giving me his input on what to do on and off the ice,” Max Domi said of his dad. “He didn’t have the easiest job (as an NHL fighter) and he stuck around 17 years. He was a great teammate and he worked hard on every shift and every game and he showed up to the rink with a smile on his face and he’s just kind of influenced me in that term. He’s really brought me up in a hockey environment, so I’ve been pretty privileged.”

Regarding his style of play, Domi said: “I like to compete every shift and do whatever it takes to win hockey games, and I like to have fun out there, too. And score lots of goals.”

So does center Laurent Dauphin, whom the Coyotes moved up three spots in the draft to claim, from No. 42 to No. 39, via a trade with New Jersey.

Laurent Dauphin

Dauphin posted 25 goals and 32 assists in 62 games for Chicoutimi of the QMJHL in 2012-13.

“I think it’s a really great moment,” Dauphin said of being drafted. “It’s my dream to play in the NHL and this is the first step today.”

Dauphin said he models his game after Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron.

“I’m a two-way forward that competes every shift and has good hockey sense, good offense and good defense,” he said.

The Coyotes used the 62nd pick to nab forward Yan-Pavel Laplante, a center who notched five goals and eight assists for Prince Edward Island of the QMJHL last season after coming back from injury.

“I had my shoulder ligament torn and I only played 18 games and the playoffs, but I had a pretty good year and a pretty good playoffs,” Laplante said.

Yan-Pavel Laplante

Laplante was ranked No. 50 among North American Skaters in Central Scouting’s final draft rankings.

“It’s the best day of my life,” Laplante said after being drafted. “It’s exciting, it’s fun, its perfect… This is just the beginning of the trip. I’m far from the NHL right now and I have to work every day and at camp and have a good season next year.”

Asked to describe his playing style, Laplante said: “I’m the guy who plays with two-way sense. I’m the guy who’s going to play with character and I can play the PK.”

After picking Laplante in the third round, the Coyotes did not select again until the fifth. That’s when they grabbed defenseman Connor Clifton, who grew up about a 30-minute drive from the Prudential Center.

Clifton is only 5-foor-11, 176 pounds, but he’s tough.

“He is a really, really hard player to play against,” Knickle said. “Don’t be fooled by his size. He hits harder than any defenseman I’ve seen in my years of drafting, for his size… He’s a hard guy to play against and that’s what we need - to add a little bit more grit on the back end.”

Clifton, a product of the USA Hockey Development Program, is eager to prove he can play at the next level.

“I’m a physical defenseman and I like to jump up in the play, too,” Clifton said. “My size really doesn’t really affect the way I play the game. I like to hit guys; I don’t care how big they are. It really hasn’t stopped me.”

Connor Clifton

Being drafted so close to his home in Matawan, N.J., was special for Clifton.

“It’s pretty unbelievable and I’m truly honored,” he said.

The Coyotes later selected goalie Brendan Burke, the son of Goaltenders Coach Sean Burke, with the 163rd overall pick.

Burke played last season for the Portland of the WHL, and is on track to be that team’s No. 1 goalie next season.

“He’s a kid that’s been around the rink and in an NHL dressing room since he was two years old,” Sean Burke said before the draft. “He learned a lot when he was younger just by being in that environment and by watching NHL games and practices. It’s in his blood.”

He added: “He’s a very coachable kid. He’s been around the rink so he understands the hard work that goes into it and the commitment needed, and he’s never been afraid to work hard. His biggest asset is that he’s got a real good head on his shoulders to complement his natural ability. He knows what he wants to do and he’s going to work hard at it.”

With their final pick at No. 193, the Coyotes selected forward Jedd Soleway, a 6-foot-2 forward with soft hands.

Knickle compared the way Soleway plays to Henrik Samuelsson, whom Phoenix selected 27th overall at last year’s draft.

Soleway is headed to the University of Wisconsin after notching 14 goals and 15 assists playing for Penticton of the BCHL last season.

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