As we saw with the Conner Bleakley trade, the Arizona Coyotes simply have too many top prospects who man the center position, so now they’re cashing in. The latest cash in is on Russian center Maxim Letunov, who has never featured in an NHL game. The San Jose Sharks paid a 2016 4th round pick and a 2017 3rd round pick to acquire him. The Yotes also had to send a 2017 6th round selection with Letunov to balance the books. Originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 2nd round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Maxim Letunov has been performing very well in the youth leagues. He amounted to 44 goals and 107 points in 118 games for the Youngstown Phantoms, in the USHL. Last season, the 6’4’’ 170lbs center led the Connecticut Huskies with his 40 points in 36 appearances.
The 20-year-old jumps right to the top of San Jose’s center prospects pile and joins an incredible set of budding Sharks, alongside the likes of Timo Meier, Jeremy Roy, Nikolay Goldobin and recently signed goaltender Mantas Armalis. Maxim Letunov is quite a lanky forward but has been adding muscle mass with each season. He’s offensively gifted but needs to work on the defensive side of his game, which is expected to improve as he bulks up and becomes more of a physical presence. Arizona brought in Letunov as a part of the trade that sent Zbynek Michalek to St. Louis in 2015, and as the Coyotes have drafted so well themselves, Letunov comes in as one of their weaker prospects at center, despite actually being very talented. With the added 2016 pick from San Jose, Arizona now has eight picks in this year’s draft. In these, the Yotes have two first round selections (pick 7 and 20 overall), two in the second and another in the third. Another mighty year of drafting will help Arizona to extend the duration of their immense prospect pool whilst they continue to build their team through the draft. So the San Jose Sharks get to add another intriguing talent to their pool but sink to having just five picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The Arizona Coyotes have done well to cash in on the talented Maxim Letunov and extend their powerful youth dynasty with even more picks.