SCOTTSDALE – Two weeks ago, the Arizona Coyotes had a busy night in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft with three picks – tied for most in the league with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Coyotes are in full rebuild mode. Not only have they examined the future of their roster, but also of the franchise since the June announcement that a new arena will be built in Tempe after problems with the Gila River Arena. For now, they will play in the ASU Multi-Purpose Arena.
From the new location, the Coyotes will closely follow Logan Cooley’s career at the University of Minnesota. Arizona selected the center with the third pick in the draft. He already started training at the Ice Den in Scottsdale at the Coyotes’ development camp but will spend time in the NCAA before turning professional.
The other two picks come from Canada. During draft night, the Coyotes traded to move up for the 11th pick, choosing center Conor Geekie out of Strathclair, Manitoba. Arizona also traded up for the 28th pick to select Maveric Lamoureux, who went viral on social media for an awkward moment from his parents.
On July 11, all three players were introduced alongside Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, who showed excitement about the rebuild.
“We felt really, really good about the fact that Logan was there at (pick No. 3) for us,” Armstrong said. “Then, we were able to move to get to Conor and then Maveric was our last one where we moved up with the Edmonton pick and it all worked out. You want to walk out of the draft with players that you love, not like, and we were able to do that.”
After the introductory press conference, Cooley and Geekie suited up on the ice for the first time as Coyotes players during the development camp.
“I’ve been looking forward to getting on the ice since the draft,” Cooley said. “I’ve been wanting to skate with all the other prospects and the people that have been invited to this camp and getting to know everyone, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”
Lamoureux did not practice due to undisclosed reasons but took advantage of the opportunity “to watch the guys” and “try to learn.”
It was not an easy start to his NHL tenure for Geekie. The Canadian prospect was injured in the first practice of development camp after bumping into the boards on a challenge with a teammate. Before going on the ice, he showed excitement to reunite with someone from his province.
“I think for me rooming with Ben McCartney is pretty pretty cool to me being a Manitoba boy,” Geekie said. “He’s gone through it, he knows what it takes. One of the hardest workers I’ve known and played against so again, like Bill (Armstrong) always says, you got tons of resources here. It is a very special place and I’m looking forward to using them all.”
Geekie certainly took advantage of his time and the Coyotes resources in camp and signed a three-year entry-level contract Monday, the team announced Wednesday.
While Coyotes fans will not see some of their latest draft picks in team gear this season, Armstrong told Cronkite News what he expects from the three players while they still develop and the franchise goes through its rebuild.
“They’ve gotta grow a little bit, they’ve gotta go back to their junior clubs and college clubs, have good years, and then we’ll evaluate after the season,” Armstrong said. “We were really excited just about the potential that all three of them can have. Logan Cooley has got the ability to be the No. 1 center, and Geekie a No. 2, and the big man Maveric Lamoureux on the back side, at 6’7 … They’re hard to find.”