PHOENIX - The repercussions of the NHL lockout are still pulsating through the hockey world five months after it ended.
The NHL draft goes today in New Jersey and instead of the usual two-day event, all seven rounds will be conducted in one day. The picking gets underway at noon Arizona time.
Already this draft has been more intriguing than the ones in recent years. Not only is it considered to be brimming with talent - "Since I've been here, this is as probably as deep of a draft I've seen," Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said - but there's been plenty of drama surrounding the first pick.
For months, defenseman Seth Jones (Portland of the Western Hockey League) has been tabbed the No. 1 pick. He's ranked as the first overall prospect among North American skaters by NHL.com and NHL Central Scouting and headlines a slew of mock drafts by hockey insiders.
But the Colorado Avalanche has tipped its hand in recent weeks by saying it's not interested in Jones. Newly-named coach Patrick Roy suggested center Nathan MacKinnon would be the guy. MacKinnon was utterly impressive in the Memorial Cup, guiding Halifax (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) to the championship over Jones' Winterhawks by scoring a hat trick in each game against Portland.
MacKinnon also tops ISS Hockey's final rankings.
It's unclear who will go first overall, but Jones, MacKinnon, left winger Jonathan Drouin (Halifax) and center Aleksander Barkov (Finland) are the expected top four.
As usual, the Coyotes are seeking skilled forwards but would grab a top defenseman if he was the best player at their No.12 pick. Based on most projections, centers Sean Monahan and Hunter Shinkaruk are expected to go in the top 10, although TSN analyst Craig Button has the Coyotes taking Shinkaruk.
Both would be smart additions to the Coyotes organization. Monahan is a big body at 6-foot-2 and the type of center that thrives in today's game. He has a strong two-way game, wins faceoffs, is active on the power play and the penalty kill and, above all, is a scorer. He had 31 goals and 78 points in the Ontario Hockey League this season.