Arizona Coyotes’ Clayton Keller May Be Yotes’ Top Prospect

As the Arizona Coyotes prepare to make tough decisions regarding which prospects make their NHL roster, the franchise’s best prospect may be the one suiting up for Boston University.

For John Chayka, it went something like, “with the 7th overall pick, the Arizona Coyotes select Clayton Keller.”

Meanwhile, for Coyotes fans in Gila River Arena and in homes throughout the Valley, there was a bit of head scratching going on.

The immediate reaction went something like, “Clayton Keller? Who?” A forward from the U.S. NDTP. “Not a defenseman? Did I hear that right?” Yes, you heard it right.

Chayka threw a curveball early in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The rest of the league bit on it, and after some nifty maneuvering involving the contract of Pavel Datsyuk, the Yotes’ new GM had secured the U.S. NDTP’s all-time scoring leader and Jakob Chychrun, a defenseman who was once projected as the best defenseman in the 2016 draft class.

As fans dug  into Keller and Chychrun’s background, the Arizona Coyotes’ 2016 draft class began to look better and better.

Chychrun is now the talk of training camp in Glendale, beating out the likes of Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak for accolades and rave reviews. He may well start the season in Glendale.

Clayton Keller, on the other hand, is about to begin a different season altogether.

He is part of a highly touted Boston University squad that has championship aspirations.

While BU coach David Quinn might be in the locker room telling the Terriers, “I’m sick of hearing about how good we’re going to be,” it’s highly likely that Keller is going to challenge for the Hobey Baker Award given to the nation’s top player.

The prevous three winners? Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, and Jimmy Vesey. That’s decent company.

Keller’s level of skill is dizzying. The kid himself has noticed the comparisons to fellow American forward Patrick Kane and even encourages them.

“I try to compare my game to Patrick Kane’s,” he said. “He’s probably the same height as me. I think I can be as good as him one day.”

Confidence is viewed on a quickly sliding scale in the eyes of a fan base. If all goes well, the young man looks driven to excel. If he should flop, the Kane quote will come back to haunt him.

There’s no real in between. Keller likes that pressure.

Belief seems to permeate the 18-year-old forward. Regarding the Terriers’ chances this season, he told the Daily Free Press, “I think we can win a national championship this year; there’s no doubt about it.”

As Boston University’s season kicks off on Saturday night, Keller will take the ice ranked as the second best player overall by ISS Hockey among freshmen.

The Hockey News has the youngster ranked as the second most anticipated player to watch in college hockey.

Keller expects this to be his only year at BU. “I’m not planning on staying for four years. I have other plans.”

Is he undersized? Sure. He’s also skilled nearly beyond compare even among the Coyotes’ vaunted prospect pool.

Will we see Clayton Keller wearing #19 in Gila River Arena in the near future? Not a chance.

There’s only one man who will ever wear #19 for the Coyotes. Sorry, Clayton.

#91 might look good on the back of a Coyotes’ sweater, though. Hope to see you next fall, kid.