Arizona Coyotes set for NHL Draft with two first-round picks and plenty of options

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is taking a simple approach to the 2023 NHL Draft. “We take the best player and we figure it out from there,” he said Tuesday. (File photo by Rudy Aguado/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong is one of the most aggressive executives in the NHL, and that whatever it takes mentality will be on display this week in Nashville, Tennessee.

The 2023 NHL Draft begins Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena, where the rebuilding Coyotes have the opportunity to add two talented prospects to their deep pool of young players with the sixth and 12th picks, the latter coming from the Jakob Chychrun trade in March.

Armstrong’s two coveted picks provide the flexibility to take chances but not without exercising caution.

“We always look at the best player. We take the best player and we figure it out from there,” Armstrong said Tuesday. “Now you don’t want to draft seven defensemen in one draft. There are some small details of positional play that you want to make sure don’t overfill the bucket with one.”

The Coyotes have a vacancy on defense and will likely take a defenseman with one of their two picks. Gabe Foley, the Head of North America Scouting for Recruit Scouting, predicts the team to select David Reinbacher, a 6-foot-3 playmaking defenseman who totaled 19 assists in the 2022-23 National League season. The Austrian native was a staple for the world junior tournament while playing over 26 minutes per game and ranks eighth on Foley’s 2023 NHL Draft Rankings.

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“He just had maybe the best U18 season out of Switzerland’s top league, the National League,” Foley said. “That’s the same league they got J.J. Moser from just a couple of years ago. Obviously that has turned out to be very successful, so that makes sense to hear them (the Coyotes) tied to Reinbacher.”

The Coyotes made splashes during last year’s draft, trading up to pick Conor Geekie 11th overall and selecting Logan Cooley third overall instead of projected top player Shane Wright. Cooley decided to go back to the University of Minnesota for his upcoming sophomore season after scoring 22 goals with 60 points in 39 games in his first year.

The Coyotes already have a young and talented infrastructure. Now with a chance to add two top prospects in this year’s draft, the future of the team looks bright. Coming off his best season, Coyotes forward Clayton Keller still has his best days ahead of him at 24 years old. The three-time All-Star is also joined by Matias Maccelli, who broke out last season with 49 points in 64 games.

In addition to two first-rounders, Arizona has 10 picks in Rounds 2-7.

“We are doing everything in our power to change the culture,” Armstrong said. “The one thing that changes culture is finding the right players, players that can win you championships that are impact players.”

Daniel Pike dan-yul pike
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Daniel Pike expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, a minor in history and a certificate in sports ethics and diversity. Pike is the station manager for Blaze Radio and an intern for KTAR News in Phoenix.