In an article appearing on Today’s Slapshot – a division of The FanRag Sports Network – Craig Morgan, who also covers Arizona for AZSports.com, discusses several topics that relate in some way to the Coyotes. Interestingly, Morgan writes about Keith Gretzky, who was recently hired as an assistant GM in Edmonton and who was the director of amateur scouting for the Coyotes from 2007 – 2011 and oversaw the team’s drafts during that time. Gretzky was hired by the Oilers in part due to his scouting experience and success running the drafts for Arizona and more recently Boston. But Morgan says Gretzky’s successes at the draft may be overstated.
Despite success in the first round, where the Coyotes selected the likes of Kyle Turris, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mikkel Boedker and Connor Murphy, the team has struggled to find NHL talent in the lower rounds. According to Morgan, new Coyotes GM John Chayka has said a team’s ability to draft is measured in the later rounds. Clubs need to be able to identify and develop prospects outside of the draft’s first round in order to sustain on-ice success.
During his tenure with the Coyotes, the team selected 29 players in rounds two through seven, according to the article. Of that group, only four have made it to the NHL and just two are still in the Coyotes organization.
Teams typically need to draft and develop two or three NHL contributors every year in order to keep the pipeline of affordable young talent flowing. Even if your first-round pick pans out, clubs need at least one more of their selections to hit for the draft to be considered fruitful. If you aren’t hitting on your draft choices then it’s likely the team will have to go the free agent route to flesh out its roster and consequently put themselves in a salary cap bind. Teams like the Coyotes simply can’t afford to do that.
Now Morgan does go on to say Gretzky’s track record with Arizona does not necessarily have anything to do with the job he did in Boston. Nor is it an indicator of how he’ll perform as the assistant GM in Edmonton.
For more from Morgan and elsewhere in the NHL:
- Even though they were not awarded an expansion franchise for 2017-18, the group behind the Quebec bid is not giving up on bringing an NHL franchise to Quebec City. Quebec likely will eventually get a franchise, though it may not be via expansion. I believe the league wants to also place a team in Seattle and that would probably be through expansion. Quebec would then be in a position to take in a club looking to relocate. Most of the teams that have been recently linked to relocation currently reside in the East. In order to gain balance between the two conferences, expanding from 15 – 16 clubs in the West is the simplest solution, while keeping Quebec as a fallback in the event of relocation.
- In a piece for The Players Tribune, San Jose forward Logan Couture lists the six defensive players he considers the toughest to match-up against. Not surprisingly, all of his choices reside with him in the Western Conference, including one who also suits up for the Sharks. It’s hard to argue with any of his choices and it’s easy to understand the apparent western bias since he sees the guys in his own conference at least two times more often during the regular season, to say nothing of the playoffs. Brent Burns and Duncan Keith are elite players who impact the game in all three zones. Roman Josi is rapidly developing into one of the top blue liners in the NHL. Mark Giordano – Couture has a funny story about the Flames standout – might be a late-bloomer but he is undoubtedly a quality player. Finally, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews may well be the best two-way pivots in the game today.