There is very little, no, let's be honest, there is no question who the first two picks of tonight's NHL Draft will be. But ever since the NHL Draft lottery, an interesting situation has developed with the third overall pick.
Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin is widely regarded as the third-best player available in this year's Draft. But the Arizona Coyotes hold the third overall pick and many have speculated that the Coyotes may not be as interested in selecting the potential franchise defenseman.
That has led to a bevy trade talk surrounding the Coyotes and the third overall pick. Earlier this week, Coyotes GM Don Maloney said publicly that had fielded some very serious offers about the third overall pick. On Tuesday, TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted out the following:
ARI GM Don Maloney says he has two firm offers to trade outright the No. 3 overall pick in draft that give him "pause to consider."— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
By Wednesday evening, Maloney the number of interested trade partners had ballooned to "four or five legitimate offers and three or four more 'tire kickers'" in an interview with Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona.
This morning, Toronto Maple Leafs beat writer for the Globe and Mail and former SBN hockey boss James Mirtle reported that the swirl of interest around the third overall pick was specifically for Hanifin:
Multiple teams are trying to trade ahead of the Leafs to the No. 3 spot specifically for Hanifin. Could change their pick.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 26, 2015
If Arizona can't trade the pick, Mirtle reports the Coyotes are likely to select Dylan Strome at third overall, forcing the Leafs to make a tough decision between Hanifin and Mitch Marner.
Columbus is rumored to be the team most aggressive in wanting to trade up to the third overall pick. That makes sense given that the Blue Jackets are looking for a young, skilled puck-moving defenseman after losing Mike Reilly to free agency. Any deal between the Coyotes and Blue Jackets would include Columbus' 8th overall pick, which would make closing the gap between the two sides a little easier. The Boston Bruins are also among those rumored to be interested.
Will a deal get done in time? It's hard to say. Very few trades have been pulled off in the top five of the Draft in recent years because the asking price is so high. But Hanifin is a special player and with the Coyotes not being interested, they may be able to leverage their position at third overall into a nice return for the pick.