After the Arizona Coyotes finished the 2021-22 season with a 25-50-7 record, the team was awarded the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft on July 7.
With the Coyotes having their sights on what’s set to be a busy offseason, they prepare for free agency and what do to with that coveted top-three pick in the draft.
While Arizona has the No. 3 overall pick, it’s not the only selection card they are set to turn in on draft night. The Coyotes also own the No. 27 overall pick and either the No. 31 or No. 32 pick that belongs to the Colorado Avalanche.
In his latest mock draft for Bleacher Report, Lyle Richardson thinks the Coyotes use their first pick in the draft on American center Logan Cooley.
After Richardson has the Montreal Canadiens taking Shane Wright with the top pick and the New Jersey Devils grabbing Slovakian forward Juraj Slafkovsky No. 2 overall, he thinks Arizona will take Cooley next to help build its future center depth.
Playing for the U.S National Team Developmental Program, Cooley tallied 75 points in 51 games. He’s the second-ranked North American draft prospect on NHL.com behind Wright, but some think Cooley may have closed that gap.
Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr believes the margin between Cooley and Shane Wright narrowed during the season, per Mike Morreale. Though Wright got the nod as the top North American prospect, Marr praised Cooley’s abilities.
Cooley is known for the offensive skillset he possesses along with the pace he plays with. After playing with the developmental program, he’s off to play his collegiate hockey at Minnesota, a top program that Richardson thinks can help prepare him for the NHL.
LOGAN COOLEY PULLS A MICHIGAN!
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 28, 2022
That will give him an opportunity to hone his skills at the NCAA level. He would be a terrific fit with the Coyotes’ long-term plans. The young center could be ready to make the jump to the NHL within a couple of years.
Richardson would go on to mock the rest of the first round, having the Coyotes continuing to bolster their center depth with the No. 27 overall pick taking Frank Nazar.
Also playing for the U.S. National Team Developmental Program, Nazar is the No. 21 ranked North American prospect.
Nazar enjoyed a fine season with the USNTDP Under-18 squad, finishing third with 7o points in 56 games. He also had nine points in six games played for the USA in the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Wrapping up the first round, Richardson has the Coyotes picking at No. 32 overall, a pick that belongs to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche are currently in the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, where the result determines the Coyotes pick.
Should Colorado lose, Arizona will pick No. 31 overall whereas an Avalanche Stanley Cup win would give the Coyotes the No. 32 pick.
With the pick, Richardson has the Coyotes using it on defenseman prospect Sam Rinzel.
The 6-foot-3, 181-pound skater’s size and potential could attract the Coyotes.