Arizona Coyotes’ Prospect Clayton Keller Inspiring Optimism, High Praise


Embed from Getty Images

After a strong gold medal winning performance at World Juniors, Clayton Keller has solidified himself as the best prospect in the Arizona Coyotes’ stacked system.

The countdown to next season is on for the Arizona Coyotes.

There will be no playoffs this year, but there is still optimism.

The Yotes will have another high draft pick to help bolster their young organization, and their two best and brightest prospects are on the cusp of professional hockey.

Arizona needs game-changing talent. It’s something that’s all too often been missing.

That’s why Clayton Keller will be a member of the Coyotes next season.

You can bank on it.

Keller has played 22 games at Boston University this season, missing some time due to injury. He’s scored 16 goals and added 16 assists for 32 points. That’s good for third best among freshmen, and the guys ahead of him have played eight more and four more games respectively.

If Keller had played the full thirty games, he’d be sitting at 44 points on his current pace. That would put him 10 points ahead of the next closest freshman and only eight points off of the NCAA lead.

John Buccigross of ESPN proclaimed Keller was “the best (college hockey) player I’ve seen this season.”

More from Howlin' Hockey

And that’s not counting his team leading scoring performance at the World Juniors where USA took the gold. This kid is special.

Buccigross isn’t the only prominent voice singing the praises of the Arizona Coyotes’ 7th overall pick.

Corey Pronman of ESPN ranked Keller the number one prospect not in the NHL, saying that the youngster “has been electric, including a dominant performance at the World Junior Championship.”

He isn’t just effective offensively, however, he also kills penalties and has contributed four shorthanded goals for BU. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed.

Elliotte Friedman’s ’30 Thoughts’ had a great tidbit about a similar trait in Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel from their former US national team under-18 coach Danton Cole.

“The thing they had in common? They could both be driven,” he said last weekend. “They understood what it takes to be successful.” Eichel, asked about that, agreed. “I don’t mind being pushed. Neither did (Matthews).” Style-wise? “Similar,” Cole answered. “Eichel is more north-south, Matthews is more flamboyant. Both great players who wanted the puck and wanted to win.”

The final note in that section?

“Cole added that Arizona’s Clayton Keller is another one unafraid of being pushed.”

Can you hear Dave Tippett and company salivating? I’m champing at the bit.

Clayton Keller won’t be the savior of the Arizona Coyotes. That’s just not possible unless Tipp and Keller find some way to make his size work at center.

He was an amazing steal by John Chayka in the 2016 draft, however.

Next: Youth Developing Despite Coyotes' Struggles

Should the likes of Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, or even one of the highly rated prospects in the 2017 NHL draft turn out to be a true top line center, though…

…well, Keller may be the other piece that pushes this franchise into consistent playoff contention.