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Arizona probably doesn’t have a first-round pick at the upcoming draft, but what if they did.
To acquire Taylor Hall the Coyotes needed to send the Devils a lottery-protected first-round pick for the upcoming draft. Right now we don’t even know what the draft is going to look like, or what the pick would have been if the season had continued.
For simplicity’s sake in this scenario, the Coyotes sent this year’s second-round pick and an unprotected first-round pick for next year’s draft. We are also going to just end the season right now, with the Coyotes drafting 10th overall.
First-round picks do have a much better chance of making the NHL, but not all first-round picks are created equal. There is a noticeable drop in skill as the round continues, and the chances of making the NHL get smaller and smaller. It is by no means a guarantee, nothing with regards to drafting ever is, but it is useful at understanding what is likely to have happened.
Other than the first few picks, most players need to spend a few years developing after being drafted. NHL prospects are drafted at 18 years old and they need time to further develop their skills and add size.
You would have to go back to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft when the Avalanche drafted Mikko Rantanen to find a 10th overall pick who had a major impact on their team. Ten of the thirty players drafted in the first round of the 2015 Draft have been NHL All-Stars though, so it is probably not the most representative draft.
Other than Rantanen, the tenth-overall pick for the past decade hasn’t been a game-changer. Valeri Nichushkin was able to make the jump to the NHL right after being drafted, while others took at least a season.
Other than that, the 10th overall pick has required a few seasons to develop. Evan Bouchard played seven games with the Edmonton Oilers before returning to the AHL and spent all of last season in the AHL. Owen Tippett had a seven-game tryout after being drafted but has spent most of his time in the OHL and spent last season in the AHL. Tyson Jost spent a season in the NCAA before making the jump and largely playing in the NHL. Nick Ritchie spent a season in the OHL before making the jump and split time between the NHL and AHL in his first season. Jonas Brodin spent a season in Sweden and then split time between the NHL and AHL his first season before becoming a steady NHL defenseman.
So if the Coyotes had kept their first-round pick, and they finished about where they did, fans shouldn’t have expected that player to make an impact next season or even the season after.