The 2018-19 season is over. Now is the time to take a look at some of the Arizona Coyotes prospects (Barrett Hayton, Nick Merkley, and Kevin Bahl) and what they have been up to this year. Have some taken a step forward or backward?
Prospect wise, Arizona picks in the 14th slot this year. The Coyotes garnered eight picks in the 2019 NHL Draft.
2018-19 Top 10 Arizona Coyotes Prospects
1. Barrett Hayton, C – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Drafted: 5th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft by Arizona.
Hayton shows why he is the number one prospect on this roster with every game he plays in the OHL. Furthermore, his camp last season warrants an extended look into this year. The center expects to be inserted into the middle-six and maybe receive some power play time for Arizona. They desperately need a player with his touch to help boost goal totals.
Debate exists as to whether his goal scoring can translate to the NHL level but his playmaking should. The 66 points in 39 OHL games are quite impressive though. When one gets down to it, the 26 goals is something to keep an eye on. With a little more work, Hayton could be quite the dual threat in the NHL and yes a top-line center.
2. Nick Merkley, C/RW – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 30th pick in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft by Arizona.
The forward carries good upside and even showed flashes of middle and maybe top-six offensive talent. Merkley still has work to do when it comes to achieving on the NHL level. Sometimes his skating technique and decision making can be questionable but for the most part, he has improved on those aspects of his game.
Again, some argue that Merkley may plateau as a middle-six forward. There are still some who disagree and believe there is room for the center to hit that top-six level. It depends on who one talks to. One thing is clear, he plays well enough to be good. It is a question of does he put in the work this summer to improve on his skating and shot. Those skills still need a little tweaking.
3. Kevin Bahl, D — Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Draft: 55th overall in the second round of the 2018 draft by Arizona.
Bahl scores far too little or so that was the thought. However, for his size, he plays well enough defensively and features some offensive upside. That booming shot is something which can be harnessed. His physical play comes to the forefront and quickly. Bahl is never afraid to assert himself into that arena.
So, the question becomes can Bahl continue to improve after his playoff performance for Ottawa (11 points in 15 games)? A significant reason to watch Bahl now is to see how he builds upward from here. There is a lot of raw skill in him which maybe some did miss in the original scouting of him.
4. Pierre Olivier-Joseph, D – Drummondville (QMJHL), Charlottetown (QMJHL)
Drafted: 23rd overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Arizona.
Olivier-Joseph traded to Drummondville after being captain of Charlottetown was interesting but he adapted well enough. His frame is a bit lanky but the defenseman excels on the transition game. Drummondville needed that desperately and Oliver-Joseph was able to deliver that into a deep playoff run for the Voltigeurs.
His upside is that of a second-pairing defenseman. That may fluctuate some but based on what has been seen, the defenseman possesses the room to grow. He shoots the puck a bit more now. He needs to add some more weight without sacrificing that lightning quick first step. Next year may be crucial to his overall development.
5. Kyle Capobianco, D – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 63rd overall in the third round of the 2015 draft by Arizona.
The defenseman scored a few more goals in his second season with the Roadrunners. He did play only 40 games which raised a few concerns but also leads to wonder what could happen next. Capobianco tallied 32 points in 40 contests and that number could have been higher. He has morphed into quite a nice two-way defenseman for Tucson from his days in Sudbury of the OHL.
One of his biggest assets Capobianco shows is his ability to get involved in the play. Rarely, does he get caught out of position and warrants an extended look with the Arizona Coyotes in 2019-20. It would not be surprising if Capobianco makes the Coyotes out of camp.
6. Tyler Steenburgen, W – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 128th overall in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by Arizona.
Steenburgen transitioned decently into the AHL with nine goals and 22 points in 63 games for Tucson. There were some awkward moments at times where the forward made some classic OHL mistakes but those began to fade later in the season. This season coming up expects to see some improvement in the goal scoring department for Steenburgen.
Nonetheless, Steenburgen remains a middle-six possibility for Arizona in what feels like a sea of middle-six talent. Could he be more than that? There’s always a slight chance but right now, it is not something that looks likely.
7. Cam Dineen, D – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 68th overall in the third round of the 2016 Draft by Arizona.
Dineen is a New Jersey native who rose from the New Jersey Rockets system straight into the OHL. He made a transition to the OHL and thrived immensely averaging over a point a game at times. His first foray at the AHL level was more of an introduction — 12 points in 57 games. Dineen showed flashes of why he was a third-round pick with upside.
The defenseman shows an ability to want to improve and then deliver on that. However, his ceiling may be limited to a second-pairing defenseman at the NHL level. Time will tell there but Dineen must work on upper-body strength at the AHL level and battles in corners, etc.
8. Noel Hoefenmayer, D – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Drafted: 108th overall in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft by Arizona.
Hoefenmayer blossomed into one of those explosive two-way defensemen for Ottawa two seasons ago but then put together a magical season in 2018-19. He fired in 16 goals and 62 points in 68 games. Then, Hoefenmayer totaled 19 points in 18 playoff contests. That included eight goals and several on the man advantage.
Fortunately, this is a classic case of letting a player just develop in the OHL. Does he wind up playing for Tucson next season is the question? There lies an increasing chance of that occurring. It will be intriguing to see how he adapts to the speed and pace of the Western Conference of the AHL.
9. Filip Westerlund, D – Timra IK (SHL)
Drafted: 44th overall in the second round of the 2017 Draft by Arizona.
Westerlund continues to meander a bit showing a few glimpses of upside even in the Swedish elite leagues. His vision and puck control have translated to the highest level but not quite the playmaking some have seen, even internationally at times.
Also, what has not been seen is a leap as far as decision making. Westerlund tends to make the same mistakes as he has in the lower levels. That becomes more costly as the level of competition rises. There is time for that to improve but not as much as some think.
10. Ty Emberson, D – Wisconsin University (NCAA)
Drafted: 73rd overall in the third round of the 2018 draft by Arizona
Emberson presents as a long-term project who is working on his offensive upside at Wisconsin. He mostly saw a more defensive role in his freshman year, however. Do not read too much into that. The Wisconsin native expects to see a bit more prominent role in his sophomore season.
The promising defenseman showed his ability to play with talent at or above his level which was encouraging. He did not get completely overwhelmed with the competition in the Big 10. Emberson looks like a defenseman who expects to play all four years at Wisconsin as he works on all aspects of his game.