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Checking in on Coyotes’ 2023 first-round picks

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Rewinding back to the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville, there were certain locks going high while surprises came from teams like the Arizona Coyotes along the way.

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Connor Bedard was always going to end up being a Chicago Blackhawk after they won the lottery. Then it was up in the air with who the Anaheim Ducks were going to select, ending up with Leo Carlsson before handing Adam Fantilli to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

From the third pick onwards, it was a toss up with what the order would be and who was going to be chosen.

On the clock in the sixth spot, Arizona went for defenseman Dmitriy Simashev from Loko Yaroslavl.

Then as a result of trading Jakob Chychrun before the NHL Trade Deadline, the Coyotes also received multiple draft picks, including the 12th overall last year from the Ottawa Senators.

To keep up with a common theme, the ‘Yotes grabbed another Russian and teammate of Simashev’s, forward Daniil But.

Both were projected as reaches back then by multiple fans and media members since there were many unknowns and question marks surrounding their names.

But since going back to their native homeland, how have they been after the draft and when could they realistically become a Coyote?

Dmitriy Simashev

Jun 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Arizona Coyotes draft pick Dmitriy Simashev puts on his sweater after being selected with the sixth pick in round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As the second highest defenseman to be selected after Montreal Canadiens’ David Reinbacher (5th overall), Simashev walked onto the stage in Bridgestone Arena to greet officials and staff from the Coyotes.

Simashev was under contract in Russia, but could have been bought out of the agreement by Arizona. Instead, the Coyotes believed his development was more important and didn’t want to rush him to the U.S., disregarding the clause.

Listed as 6’4″ 215 pounds, he returned to the MHL with the Loko Yaroslavl, the junior equivalent of the CHL in Eurasia.

However after a single game, Simashev earned a promotion to the Loko Yaroslavl’s KHL pro team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. He played 18 games last season for Lokomotiv with zero points.

So far this season, Simashev has earned a major role on the main team by competing in 54 games, posting three goals, four assists, seven points and a plus/minus rating of +7.

His elite skating for a tall defenseman caught the eyes of Arizona and with him playing in the second-best hockey league in the world, this experience will only help him once the Coyotes feel he is ready for the jump to the NHL.

Daniil But

Jun 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Arizona Coyotes draft pick Daniil But puts on his sweater after being selected with the twelfth pick in round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When looking at the rest of the projected first-round picks, Arizona saw another player from Loko Yaroslavl on the draft board and took a shot on him.

But, pronounced Boot, is a massive forward in stature at 6’5″ 203 pounds.

One of the hockey stereotypes is if the player is taller, they are usually slower. To compensate for that assumption, though, he has defied the odds as his IQ, shot and playmaking have all improved as he has grown older.

Like Simashev, the 18-year-old left wing in But played just three games this season for Loko Yaroslavl before Lokomotiv called him up.

In the KHL this year, But has nine goals, nine assists and 18 points in 46 games.

While his numbers haven’t been anything significant, he only averages 9:36 time-on-ice in a bottom-six role.

If he does get a larger opportunity on a higher line as the year progresses, But’s production could see an incremental increase before the conclusion.

But’s development will be slower paced than Simashev as the defenseman is expected to be NHL-ready by either next year or the 2025-26 season. For But, it could be two years from now or even more.

It is unknown exactly when both of them will come overseas, but things are looking promising for the Coyotes in the future.

Avalanche placed former Coyotes G Ivan Prosvetov on waivers

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Alec Cipollini is a reporter of the Arizona Coyotes and Cardinals for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account @AlecCipollini

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