Coyotes GM Don Maloney is taking the slow build from the ground up approach with the Coyotes, and after several years of patience, the payoff is within sight. The Coyotes have shown great resistance with their young prospects and keeping players like Max Domi in junior allowing him to develop slowly and correctly.
It is a model tried, tested and true as proven by Ken Holland in Detroit, but it seems easier said than done. Stick tap to the Coyotes organization for sticking to this philosophy and Coyotes fans should be excited for the very near future which looks very bright.
1. Max Domi: Right Wing – 5′ 10″ / 200 lbs Drafted: 12th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Coyotes.
It caught many by surprise when Domi was returned to the London Knights for the season, but in hind sight it was the right move. Arizona struggled all season and it could have had a negative impact on Domi’s confidence and development. Instead, he enjoyed a monster coming out party on one of the biggest stages at the World Junior Championship, as he led Canada to a Gold medal. While his junior career is over, don’t rule out the possibility he sees some time in the AHL adjusting to the pro game. There is no sense in rushing this blue-chip prospect until his performance demands a top-six roster spot with the NHL club.
2. Dylan Strome Center – Center – 6′ 3″ / 185 lbs Drafted: 3rd overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Coyotes.
The top two selections were a foregone conclusion and everybody knew that the draft really started with pick number three. In that sense, Strome was a first overall selection. Arizona had several trade offers for the third overall selection, but elected to retain the pick and select “their guy” in Strome. He addresses an organizational need at centre perfectly, as the OHL scoring leader is a bona fide franchise calibre player. Expect Strome to be returned to Erie where he will centre last year’s rookie of the year and 2016 draft prospect Alex DeBrincat.
3. Brendan Perlini: Left Wing/Center – 6′ 2″ / 212 lbs Drafted: 12th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Coyotes.
Perlini was so impressive in camp last year, he was in serious contention to make the team until an injury cost him his chance. He was returned to Niagara where he catapulted the struggling Ice Dogs offence, centering a dominate line with Josh Ho-Sang and Carter Verhaeghe. He already possesses NHL size, skating and shooting attributes and is a legitimate contender to crack the opening night roster. It is not so clear that he will see more than nine games and like Domi was, could easily be returned to junior. He is close.
4. Anthony Duclair: Left Wing – 5′ 11″ / 185
Drafted: 80th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Rangers.
Acquired: The Coyotes acquired Duclair, John Moore, a 2016 1st round round pick and a 2015 2nd round pick from the Rangers for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 2015 4th round pick.
Duclair was the key piece in the Keith Yandle trade and will be reunited with Max Domi, where the two looked sensational together winning Gold with team Canada at the World Juniors. Duclair was impressive in his early season audition with the Rangers before being returned to junior. He is a streaky scorer who has a tendency to endure long streaks of all-or-nothing type goal scoring.
5. Christian Dvorak: Center/Left Wing – 5′ 11″ / 185 lbs Drafted: 58th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Coyotes.
American born Dvorak (No relation to former NHLer Radek Dvorak) is the Coyotes fastest rising star after enjoying a breakout season playing on London Knights top line with teammate Max Domi and fourth overall selection Mitch Marner. An injury the previous season cost him most of his draft year and perhaps allowed him to fly under the radar. He should be returned for a final season of junior with London who have been loading up on talent like Max Jones and Matt Tkachuk and will be Memorial Cup favorites.
6. Henrik Samuelsson: Right Wing – 6′ 3″ / 210 lbs Drafted: 27th overall in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Coyotes.
The big two-way forward made the jump from junior to pro last year and didn’t look out of place, even earning a three game cup of coffee with the big club. With 40 points in his rookie season, he may return to Portland for more seasoning, but offense is not his first priority. Samuelsson projects as more of a physical complementary player who can bring a heavy game and good defence with some offensive support. His skating ability will likely determine which league he spends more time in.
7. Nick Merkley: Center/Right Wing – 5′ 10″ / 191 Drafted: 30th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Coyotes.
The final selection of the first round in the 2015 draft found the spotlight in the Memorial Cup with the Kelowna Rockets, where along with Leon Draisaitl, Rourke Chartier, Madison Bowey and Josh Morrissey, they came up just short to the Oshawa Generals. Merkley is a little guy at 5’10 and 191 lbs, but has great wheels and offensive skills. With the Johnny Gaudreau’s and Tyler Johnson’s having as much success in the NHL as they are, Merkley offers a lot of potential.
8. Ryan MacInnis: Center/Left Wing – 6′ 3″ / 185 lbs Drafted: 43rd overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Coyotes
The son of NHL Hall of Famer Al MacInnis, he nearly doubled his point totals from his rookie OHL season jumping from 37 to 62 in only one more game played. He has always been tall and at 6’3” is starting to add to his lean frame and now weighs in at 185 lbs. He will need to continue to add muscle mass to his frame and will get another season of development in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers.
9. Brendan Shinnimin: Center – 5′ 10″ / 185 lbs Drafted: Was not drafted
Signed as a free agent in 2012, the Coyotes have found money in Shinnimin. The former Canadian Major Junior player of the year and leading scorer is small, but has great offensive abilities. He finished 47th overall in AHL scoring with 47 points in 64 games and made his NHL debut playing in 12 games, registering one assist.
10. Klas Dahlbeck: Defense – 6′ 3″ / 207 lbs Drafted: 79th overall in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Blackhawks. Acquired: Arizona received Dahlbeck and a 2015 first round draft pick from Chicago for Antoine Vermette.
Dahlbeck was acquired from Chicago in the Vermette deal and was inserted into the roster seeing 19 games on the Coyotes blueline. It remains to be seen if he can hold down a regular roster spot as Brandon Gormley will push the competition, but he will see plenty of NHL playing time this season as injuries always create opportunity. The former 79th overall selection of the Hawks was seen as a defensive defenseman, but he has begun to show an offensive upside as well.
Recent roster graduates: Connor Murphy, Brandon Gormley, Lucas Lessio
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling
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