A failure to make the playoffs following the 2013 season will see the Phoenix Coyotes draft 12th overall this summer, and with a deep pool of prospects they may be wise to address their future between the pipes with that pick. The team still does not have a deal in place with star netminder Mike Smith and backup Jason LaBarbera is far from being a franchise goaltender.
Junior standout Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads is the top-ranked goaltender heading into the draft. Fucale was only beaten seven times between the regular season and playoffs, while posting a 2.35 goals-against average and helping lead the Mooseheads to a Memorial Cup championship. He may still be there when the Coyotes make the 12th selection, or the New Jersey Devils may beat them to the punch with the ninth overall pick. After Fucale, top options remain with Eric Comrie (Tri-City Americans, WHL) and Tristan Jarry (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL). On the international front, Juuse Saros (Finland) and Slovenian netminder Luka Gracnar are expected to be top picks.
The Coyotes used AHL netminder Chad Johnson this season (he’s also an unrestricted free agent), and he was able to experience some success. Former draft picks Louis Domingue, Mark Visentin and Mike Lee are in the system, but a player like Fucale may prove too good to pass up. The 2012 draft saw the Coyotes select Henrik Samuelsson with the 27th overall pick. After a 33 goal, 80 point season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL (69 games), Samuelsson has made that look like a great pick and also showed the Coyotes’ scouting staff knows what they’re doing. If they choose to pursue a goaltender this year, they’ll have plenty of options.