In a move that stunned many, the Coyotes take the first “reach” of the draft in selecting the 6’4” mobile defenseman out of Russia.
Reasons for optimism
Simashev immediately steps into the role of Coyotes top defensive prospect. The only guy they have with top-pair upside was definitely a position of need. Arguably the highest upside at the position in the draft, with both his size and skating, has some great potential. Good defensive instincts.
Reasons for caution
Lack of production at both the MHL and KHL levels leaves worries about his future offensive ceiling and to be a true top pair guy playing top minutes, you can’t be a negative on that end. Was going a defenseman the best route with some of the elite forward talent still available? Russian contract for at least two seasons and Russian teams don’t care as much about development, especially of players that they know will go overseas. There will always be a question mark on any Russian player coming over.
Simashev is a very high-risk/high-reward swing. If he hits, the Coyotes will have a top-pairing defenseman or defensive anchor of a second pair. If he misses, there will always be questions about why they passed on some of the forward talent taken in that range.