With just days until the start of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft, the buzz is starting to grow around the host city Montreal. Fans and media alike are going to pack the Bell Centre in eager anticipation of what the Canadiens are going to do with the first-overall pick.
That’s the biggest headline going to Thursday’s first round. Will it be Shane Wright? Will it be Juraj Slafkovsky? The Canadiens say they are still undecided and would take all the time needed in order to make their pick.
Related: Predicting the Canadiens’ Draft Plan
While that moment could be an iconic one for the city of Montreal, it’s what could happen soon after that could steal the headlines for the night. New Jersey is sitting with the second pick and is listening to offers. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Let’s set the scene for you.
Potential Draft Night Blockbuster
The Arizona Coyotes own the third pick of the draft. One look at their current situation says it all. They need help everywhere. They need as much talent as possible in order to rebuild their franchise.
Owning the third pick is a great start towards that goal. They also have two other first rounders at their disposal with picks 27 and 32. With the third pick, they are guaranteed to land one of the top-three players in the draft. This is believed to be Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky or Logan Cooley.
So this seems like an easy decision for the Coyotes, right? Well not so fast. Let’s assume the Canadiens take Wright and the Devils take Slafkovsky second. Suddenly, GM Bill Armstrong gets a call. It’s from Blue Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Here’s where things get very interesting for both the Coyotes and Blue Jackets.
Cooley is sitting right there for the Coyotes. It would take a big offer for them to move off the third pick. The Blue Jackets have quite the starting package for this kind of move. They own both the sixth and 12th overall picks.
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It’s no secret the Blue Jackets are looking for a top-end center for their team. Cooley would fit that description perfectly given his upside. The question here is would the Coyotes consider taking on 6/12 to give the Blue Jackets third?
This is where a draft value chart would help put some perspective on if this is a good and fair move. According to Michael Schucker’s chart, which helps put a value to each pick, you would see that owning 6 and 12 has a potentially higher value than owning three by itself.
- Value of third pick: 826
- Value of sixth pick: 702
- Value of 12th pick: 507
In this scenario, the Blue Jackets would need more in order to even out the values. So why would they consider this kind of move? It comes down to their targeted player in that spot. Is Cooley high enough on their list in order for them to justify trading both 6/12 to the Coyotes?
If the Blue Jackets got other picks back to even this out, then it’s a conversation worth having. In our example, here is the proposed blockbuster trade.
- Coyotes receive: Picks 6 and 12.
- Blue Jackets receive: Picks 3, 27 and 131.
From Schucker’s value chart, the value of the Coyotes’ picks is a combined 1209 while the value of the Blue Jackets’ picks is 1201. It’s almost even. Now the question becomes would both teams be interested in such a move? I believe the answer is yes. Here’s why.
Blue Jackets Side
As we mentioned above, the Blue Jackets need a top center. Many folks in the industry including Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters believe Cooley is the best prospect available in this draft. To add him to the young core of Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger and others would help expedite their reset.
The Blue Jackets would consider trading up if the right player is available. I believe if one of Cooley or Wright was available at three, they would have a long conversation about it. In addition, they’d get a back-end first rounder and an extra fifth rounder out of the deal. Scouts love extra draft bullets to fire from. They could still land a good player at 27 in this scenario.
The question on the other side to consider is if one of those two centers is significantly better than if they stayed put. The Blue Jackets could land players like Cutter Gauthier or Conor Geekie if they kept 6/12. In my opinion, Cooley is worth the deal. His upside is sky high.
The Coyotes Side
Here’s why I think trading down makes sense for the Coyotes. As we said at the beginning they need help everywhere. Owning two top-12 picks in this scenario is a tantalizing offer. They can land two top prospects instead of one and can address multiple positions. They’d also have a chance to address center in this range too.
Like the Blue Jackets, the Coyotes need to consider their target at three and if their upside is better than having 6/12. If the gap between Cooley and other players on their list isn’t big, then they have to consider this kind of move. To walk out of Montreal with two lottery players would be a huge win for this franchise.
In the end, this scenario gives everyone something to think about. The Blue Jackets need a top center. The Coyotes need multiple top prospects. This kind of trade benefits both sides while addressing key needs.
The question in the end will be if the teams believe the upside of the player is too good to pass up. Would the Coyotes rather have Cooley or 6/12? And do the Blue Jackets think one of the centers is good enough to justify the trade?
Montreal is ready to celebrate an unforgettable night. But if this kind of blockbuster happens, it will be the Coyotes and Blue Jackets who will have stolen the spotlight at the NHL Draft. It would be a night that would impact both franchises forever.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.