The Arizona Coyotes will enter what feels like the eleventy billionth year of a rebuild. The perpetual rebuild in the desert comes as a result of poor drafting, player development, and asset management.
The Coyotes past decade of drafting includes first-round busts such as Henrik Samuelsson, Brendan Perlini, and Nick Merkley. The Coyotes have also traded away former first-round selections Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Dylan Strome, and Max Domi.
There have been some hits in there, however, Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychurn from the 2016 draft stand out. Chychrun has been in trade rumors for some time now and the Coyotes can’t lose out on that deal.
With three first-round picks from the 2022 Draft, the rebuild took a big step forward last year. Time will tell if the Coyotes’ scouting has improved or if their player development can turn picks into players.
1. Logan Cooley, C – USNTDP
Drafted: 2022 round one, third overall by Arizona Coyotes
Cooley is a dynamic offensive center with franchise player upside. Some scouts had Cooley ranked as the top prospect from the 2022 Draft class, including Chris Peters. The Pittsburgh native has committed to the University of Minnesota for the coming season. I suspect Cooley will be a one-and-done before he makes the jump to the pro level and steps into a top-six role with the Coyotes.
2. Dylan Guenther, LW/RW – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, nineth overall by Arizona Coyotes
The big winger scored at 2.0 PPG in his draft year in the short COVID season with 24 points in 12 games. His D+1 season had a larger sample size as he produced 91 points in 59 games and another 21 in 16 playoff games before an injury ended his season. The Oil Kings went on to win the WHL Championship and play in the Memorial Cup, Guenther was missed, and the Kings could have gone all the way with him in the lineup. Guenther has one more year of junior to play and will chase a Memorial Cup again.
3. Nathan Smith, C – Minnesota State University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2018 round three, 91st overall by Winnipeg Jets
Smith played four seasons in Mankato culminating with a 50-point season in 38 games as a senior. He leaves the NCAA with a CCHA Championship, the Forward of the Year, and a Hobey Baker finalist. Smith also represented USA at the Olympics scoring two points in four games in his first international tournament. The Florida native finished the year in the NHL with the Coyotes getting a good look in ten games and playing well scoring four points. The 23-year-old could step right into the roster out of camp and play in a top-six role as he begins his pro career.
4. Matias Maccelli, LW – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round four, 98th overall by Arizona Coyotes
Maccelli made his North American debut, and it was impressive. The flashy winger scored 57 points as a rookie in 47 AHL games. His play earned him a long look in the NHL with 23 games where he produced six points. The Finnish winger will try to secure an NHL roster spot out of training camp but could split time again as he remains waiver-exempt.
5. Conor Geekie, C – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Drafted: 2022 round one, 11th overall by Arizona Coyotes
The big 6-4 Manitoba native had a strong offensive season in Winnipeg with 70 points in 63 games for the Ice. Scouts had concerns about the big man’s foot speed and his ability to transition his offense to the NHL level. He will return to the WHL for two more seasons of development where he will work on his skating. He has top-six upside, but if he fails to reach his ceiling, he still could easily develop into a solid third-line center that plays a physical game, is a penalty-killing specialist, and has some offensive upside.
6. Jack McBain, C – Boston College (NCAA)
Drafted: 2018 round three, 63rd overall by Minnesota Wild
The Coyotes identified another NCAA player that was about to become a free agent after playing out four years in the NCAA and acquired the Toronto native for a second-round selection. McBain had a breakout season with 19 goals and 33 points in 24 games with the Eagles. McBain also played for Canada at the Olympics scoring two points in five games and finished the year in the NHL after signing with Arizona. His ten-game preview looked good as he had two goals and an assist. The 22-year-old is physically mature already but may require some seasoning at the pro level in the AHL before he breaks into the NHL.
7. Victor Soderstrom, RD – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, 11th overall by Arizona Coyotes
His first full season in North America was a good one. Soderstrom made the Coyotes out of training camp playing in the first nine games but was held pointless. He was sent down to the AHL for two months before being recalled in January for four more NHL games before being returned to the Roadrunners. Soderstrom played a total of 32 games in the AHL and produced 19 points. He finished the season in the NHL, playing 16 games in total but was held pointless. Soderstrom should see his time split again this year with the majority of his time in the NHL. His offensive upside is limited, but he could play big minutes for the Coyotes in the near future.
8. Jan Jenik, RW – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round three, 65th overall by Arizona Coyotes
With two full seasons of pro hockey development under his belt, Jenik has played 80 AHL games with 61 points, and 15 NHL games with five points. Jenik plays a strong physical game, and is aggressive on forechecks. Unfortunately for Jenik, most of his competition for an NHL job play a similar physical game – Liam O’Brien, Jack McBain, Nick Ritchie, and Zack Kassian are all bangers as well. Some have contracts that give them the edge for the NHL job, so he will have to outperform them as he is still waiver-exempt. Jenik should see a split-time role in a key season of his development in the coming season.
9. Josh Doan, RW – Arizona State University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2021 round two, 37th overall by Arizona Coyotes
If anyone thought the Coyotes reached drafting the son of Coyotes Shane Doan, they can forget those concerns. After racking up 70 points in 53 games in the USHL in his draft year, he played his freshman season in the NCAA for his home state Arizona. Doan continued to produce scoring 37 points in 35 games with the Sun Devils along with 54 PIM’s. Doan will wear the captain’s “C” as a freshman for the Sun Devils for the upcoming season.
10. Maveric Lamoureux, RD – Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Drafted: 2022 round one, 29th overall by Arizona Coyotes
The massive defender has a tremendous wingspan and combines his reach with quick mobility. He covers so much ice that he leaves attackers with little room to work with. He plays a physical game but has room to improve and use his size with more authority. His offensive upside is limited, but he could develop into a solid defensive defenseman and penalty-killing specialist.
Liam Kirk, LW – Kirk missed most of last season due to injury, limited to just eight games.
Julian Lutz, LW – The 2022 second-round pick will return to Germany for his D+1 season.
Artyom Duda, LD – Another 2022 second-round pick will remain in Russia. He is a gifted offensive defenseman.
Ilya Fedotov, LW – The 2021 second-round pick will try to break into the KHL full-time as a 19-year-old.
Mikko Matikka, RW – The third-round pick from Finland will play as a freshman at the University of Denver.
Ben McCartney, LW – The 2020 seventh-round pick is developing into a serviceable pro player with NHL bottom-six upside.
John Farinacci, C – Returning to Harvard as a sophomore and will be the Team Captain.