"This is where organizations can be built, changed."
John Chayka is well aware of the weight decisions bear this weekend, and there many to make. Taking on the next chapter in his quest to supplement his build of a sustainable contending team, the Arizona Coyotes' General Manager and President of Hockey Operations does so with a staff he firmly believes is ready to execute.
Diligent, traveled, around-the-clock work for the team's hockey operations department comes to a head this evening when the opening round of the 2019 NHL Draft begins at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.
Chayka's staff, from the outset, has a total of eight selections in the seven-round draft, which amasses 217 picks between all 31 NHL teams over a two-day period.
For the Coyotes, the headliner, as it stands every year, is their action taken in the first round. Tonight, with the #14 overall pick, they'll be under the spotlight on the draft floor operating with a year's-plus worth of analysis, assessment, and cohesive direction.
"It's obviously a unique experience, there's adrenaline running for sure and I'd be lying to you if I didn't say there was a certain degree of nerves," Chayka said of the first round draft floor experience.
"It's a year's worth of work, a lot of miles traveled, there are a lot of people that sacrifice a lot for the organization to try to put ourselves in the best position to make this pick," he added.
There is an air of confidence and assuredness as Chayka expresses his view entering his fourth draft with the Coyotes, and it's justified, as he approaches with a bolstered staff, highlighted by last July's addition of Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting Lindsay Hofford, who readies to take part in his first prospect selection with the team.
"Our view is that we're as well prepared as anyone in the draft, we've got all of our plans in place, and now it's just about executing," Chayka stated. "It's no different than going in to write an exam. If you feel like you're prepared and you've done your work, then typically the results are very good, and that's what we anticipate it to be."
The draft is where a lot of behind-the-scenes work is finally showcased, where the tireless efforts of many are given a premium platform, a platform that's been known to welcome invaluable assets that have monumental effects on organizations for years to come.
Chayka is more than satisfied with the work put in to prepare.
"I'm proud of our guys and I think they should be proud as well, this is their chance," he noted firmly. "Again, they travel a lot of miles, they stay in some bad hotels across the world, and they make a lot of sacrifices: family, personal, professional, so to get the chance to go to the draft and showcase what they've done in their work I think is very fitting for them. I'm proud of the staff and I'm excited to get it going here."
It's the "Superbowl for scouts", some say of the draft; it's also, through Chayka's eyes, the foundation for success.
"If you look at the teams that are consistent contenders, that's what they do, they draft well, that's how they build their team. That's what we're trying to do, we're trying to modernize our infrastructure, modernize our process of evaluation and get as many people aligned together as possible to achieve that common goal."
Some may call the draft process a science, an art. If one thing's known, it's an ever-evolving challenge, one that continues to adapt with the constant rejuvenation of the ideal core NHL player.
"As a General Manager it's been a really enjoyable process, a really enlightening process as well as we go through and continue to learn new things and work toward trying to attain that elusive perfection."
Perfection; that is, in fact, elusive. It doesn't mean you can't chase after it, though.
"But I can tell you we're confident that there's no stone left unturned in our efforts to draft the best players for the Coyotes."