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Coyotes load up on talented prospects at 2019 NHL Draft

 

GLENDALE, AZ - JUNE 27:  Arizona Coyotes defenseman Victor Soderstrom (77) skates during a drill during the Arizona Coyotes Development Camp on June 27, 2019 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The first thought is to fill an immediate need, and teams tend to approach the draft from that perspective.

That is, if you run an NFL franchise or an NBA team. Officials associated with these leagues approach the draft much differently than Major League Baseball and the NHL. Football and basketball personnel draft players for immediate impact, while baseball and the NHL select players for development.

That’s why the Arizona Coyotes’ recent 2019 draft seems appealing.

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While offense gains headlines, it’s goaltending and defense that wins Stanley Cups. For that reason, the Coyotes’ top pick in the recent NHL Draft comes from the blue line. In selecting Victor Soderstrom from Brynas IF (Sweden), the Coyotes hope to secure their future with an accomplished and productive defenseman. If one dimension is obvious from any 18-year old, like Soderstrom, it’s that development and education remain paramount.

“I think I’m a two-way defenseman with an offensive upside,” Soderstrom said. “Good hockey sense, good hockey IQ. Good skater. I need to develop my defensive game. I have to get stronger in my own zone. Last year, I played against grown men. They were bigger and lot stronger. In the NHL, everybody’s stronger, so that’s priority No. 1. I have pretty much my own style and taken parts of several players’ game and put that in mine. Yeah, the (Sedona Red with the Coyotes logo) jersey and looks pretty good. Hopefully, I can wear this for many years.”

2019_NHL_Entry_Draft_logoTo select Soderstrom (pictured), the Coyotes moved up from pick No. 15 and struck a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. In trading their two picks, at No. 15 and No. 45, the Coyotes acquired the Flyers’ pick at 11 and selected Soderstrom, who subsequently signed a three-year contract.

Right behind, Arizona selected center John Farinacci from the Dexter School in Massachusetts. Committed to Harvard, Farinacci scored 12 goals and assisted on 11 others in 16 games and was chosen in the third round (37th overall).

“It’s really a dream come true,” Farinacci said. “Have to thank my parents and my whole family who have been so supportive in this entire process. My biggest asset is my two-way game. My hockey IQ is probably my biggest attribute. Off of that, like I said, I’m a good two-way player, can win faceoffs and play at both ends. With other players like me right now, I need to get bigger, faster and stronger.”

During the last week of June, the Coyotes held their rookie development camp and those drafted on June 21, along with selected players from recent drafts, were invited to camp.

First-round selection from last year, center Barrett Hayton, appeared to bulk up and ready to jump into the NHL. Last season, Hayton started the campaign with the Coyotes but after scratched for the first two games, Hayton was returned to juniors. Immediately, Hayton was named captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and proceeded to produce a 66-point season (26 goals, 40 assists) in 39 Ontario Hockey League games.

Yet, the Coyotes have a recent history of trading No. 1 picks.

Since selecting Max Domi (12th overall) in the 2013 draft, Arizona dealt four top picks, including Domi, over the past six years. Also dealt was Brendan Perlini (12th overall in 2014), Dylan Strome (third overall in 2015) and Pierre-Olivier Joseph (23rd overall in 2017). As well, the Coyotes traded away a second-round pick, Laurent Dauphin, who was selected right behind Domi in 2013.

In addition to Soderstrom and Farinacci, the Coyotes selected seven other players in the 2019 draft, including forward Matias Maccelli (fourth round, 98th overall), forward Alexandr Darin (fourth round, 107th overall), forward Aku Raty (fifth round, 151st overall), forward Danil Savunov (sixth round, 174th overall), forward Anthony Romano (sixth round, 176th overall), defenseman Axel Bergkvist (seventh round, 200th overall) and forward Valentin Nussbaumer (seventh round, 207th overall).

Photo/Norm Hall

— Mark Brown

(Aug. 23, 2019)