PHILADELPHIA — When NHL teams draft for future development, it’s difficult to project impact players.
After all, most return to their junior teams, and clubs hope to realize a player’s potential on draft day rather than their influence.
While the Arizona Coyotes had nine picks in the recently concluded NHL draft at the Wells Fargo Center, the projection of players actually skating for the Coyotes at the major league level remains slim.
That’s the conclusion of Tim Bernhardt, director of amateur scouting for the Coyotes, who told reporters after the draft that the success rate of players transitioning from draft day to the NHL is marginal at best.
“If we get two, three, four guys out of this draft and play in the NHL, we’ll be very happy,” Bernhardt told reporters at the conclusion of the draft. “That’s how is usually goes.”
At the end of the player selections, the Coyotes finished with those nine picks but chose only one defenseman. That’s because of need and also because, as Bernhardt pointed out, “this was not a strong draft for defensemen.”
“Every time you finish the draft, you think we’re the happiest person in the building,” Coyotes general manager Don Maloney told reporters after the draft concluded. “Essentially the draft is like throwing darts and you hope a few hit the bull's-eye.”
With the first two selections, the Coyotes went for forwards who they hope can make contributions through the development process. After choosing Brendan Perlini with their first selection Friday night, and 12th pick overall, the Coyotes utilized their second pick (No. 43) to select center Ryan MacInnis, a 6'3", 178-pound forward from Kitchener of the OHL.
MacInnis the son former NHL defenseman Al MacInnis, who, in his playing days primarily with the Blues, was considered to have one of the hardest shots in the league. His son is a essentially a playmaker and, unlike his father and his tough shot to handle, Bernhardt adds, “Ryan needs to work on his shot.”
With two years remaining of junior eligibility, MacInnis will return to Kitchener this fall and hone his skills. Still, the Coyotes like the bloodlines and the potential he brings to the center-ice position.
One curious pick was the Coyotes’ final selection.
With the 193rd pick, they chose forward Edgars Kulda, a 5'11", 177-pound native of Latvia. Kulda won the Stafford Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the recently concluded Memorial Cup in which his Oil Kings defeated Guelph, 6-3, on May 25.
Leading scorer in the final round of the Memorial Cup was Edmonton’s Henrik Samuelsson, the No. 1 selection pick of the Coyotes in the 2012 draft. Kulda finished second in scoring during the final series with four goals and three assists for seven points. Samuelsson led all scorers with eight points on four goals and four assists.
“Being from Latvia, Kulda has a somewhat difficult time adjusting to play and life in North America,” Bernhardt added. “That’s why I think he fell so low. When he became adjusted, he played well and we thought he was worthy of a pick.”
The nine players selected over the recent weekend, along with Samuelsson, last year’s No. 1 pick Max Domi and others commencing their NHL careers, are due to participate in Arizona's rookie camp July 7-11 at the Ice Den in Scottsdale.
The Coyotes' complete 2014 draft selections and where they were selected:
No. 12 — Brendan Perlini, Niagara
No. 43 — Ryan MacInnis, Kitchener
No. 58 — Christian Dvorak, London
No. 87 — Anton Karlsson, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden)
No. 117 — Michael Bunting, Sault Ste. Marie
No. 133 — Dysin Mayo, Edmonton
No. 163 — David Westlund, Brynas Jr. (Sweden)
No. 191 — Jared Fiegl, USA U-18
No. 193 — Edgars Kulda, Edmonton
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.