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NHL Draft

Coyotes aiming to add to young core in NHL Draft

Arizona has five of first 78 picks, will take best available player regardless of position

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka said the plan for the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas is to take the best player available, regardless of position, with their seven picks.

A group of young forwards, among them Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller, will be the headline pieces as the Coyotes try to build a consistent Stanley Cup Playoff contender. But Chayka said he's also happy with some of the young defensemen that are part of the mix.

"We added [Jakob] Chychrun last year, we traded for [Anthony] DeAngelo, another young defenseman," Chayka said. "We've got Connor Murphy … Kyle Wood in the [American Hockey League]. We've got lots of young defense. It's best player, 100 percent."

The first round at United Center is Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). Rounds 2-7 is Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

Chychrun, who turned 19 on March 31, was the 16th pick in the 2016 Draft. He finished his first NHL season with 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) and averaged 16:40 of ice time in 68 games.

Video: DET@ARI: Chychrun pots long shot through traffic

Chayka said there were no expectations that Chychrun would make the team last season and that he won't close the door on another player going straight from the draft to the NHL.

"We didn't expect him to necessarily jump in at 18 [years old]," he said. "We got him at 16 in a good draft, and I think this is a good draft as well. There are going to be players that play and play sooner than later, and some that take some time. … Each player is unique."

The Coyotes have two picks in the first round for the second consecutive year; their own choice is No. 7, and they have No. 23, which was acquired from the Minnesota Wild in a trade for forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White on Feb. 26.

They have seven picks in all, including five of the first 78 selections.

"I think you want to have as many draft picks as possible in any draft," Chayka said. "I don't think this draft is any different from that. There's pockets of really high-end, elite players. You hope you can time it and get in the right position to get those players you really feel passionate about and really believe in."

Chayka also feels he has the draft-pick ammunition to move up or down to get a particular player he and his staff think will help.

"I think with two first-round picks, that gives you the option," he said. "There's a grouping there, if that really is what you're looking to do. I think we can find guys we really like at the right spots, and that's what we're trying to do at the draft."

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