Coyotes’ Clayton Keller ranks No. 1 in ESPN’s NHL prospect rankings

Aug 16, 2017, 5:55 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2017, 11:21 am
Follow @AZSports...

A restructured front office and a flurry of trades around the Arizona Coyotes’ NHL Draft changed the team’s outlook for the 2017-18 season. But as far as the team’s stockpile of youngsters goes, not much is new.

The Coyotes are in a promising spot.

Corey Pronman, special to ESPN, released his top-100 NHL prospect list as of now, and two of the three Coyotes to make the list come with top-10 rankings.

Leading off the list is No. 1-ranked Clayton Keller, the 19-year-old who finished his freshman year with Boston University and joined Arizona for three games at the tail end of last season.

He was among the most dominant freshmen of the past 20 years, a top player for the gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Juniors and wrapped it up with some NHL games for Arizona. He is a dynamic playmaker who excites you anytime he’s on the ice. Keller gets plus grades with his speed and puck skills, but his hockey IQ pushes him into the top tier of players. He’s an extremely crafty playmaker who can also play on the defensive side of the puck well despite his smaller size, due to his awareness and speed. He should be a quality NHL player in 2017-18, and an early favorite for the Calder Trophy.

The center, who Arizona drafted seventh overall in 2016, scored 21 goals and added 24 assists in 31 games with Boston University before he recorded two assists in 38 minutes of ice time with the Coyotes.

Fellow Coyotes center Dylan Strome ranked sixth on Pronman’s rankings, which only includes prospects who have not played 25 games or more in any NHL season or more than 50 total in their career.

Strome, the Coyotes’ 2015 third overall pick, appeared in seven games with Arizona last year, recording one assist.

Strome got caught in CHL-NHL limbo; he wasn’t quite ready to play for the Coyotes, but when he was sent back, he cleared two points per game in the OHL. On a skills level, I haven’t seen a ton of progression from last season, but he was elite last season and remains so, even if he doesn’t seem as shiny. Strome is a tall center with incredible vision, a big shot and good puck skills. Improving his skating and strength remain key issues for him in terms of becoming a top-six forward at the NHL level, but with a big summer, it’s possible.

Also making the top-100 list is  Coyotes winger Christian Fischer, the 20-year-old who scored three goals in seven games last year.

He’s got a great skill level for a big winger, making creative plays at a pro pace, coupling that with a quality shot and a good power game. He also showed fine defensive play for an under-20 player. Improving his first few steps will be key going forward, but all signs are pointing up for Fischer.

The Coyotes drafted the now-20-year-old Fischer 32nd overall in 2015.

Penguin Air

Arizona Coyotes

Part of a mailer sent by the city of Phoenix and Sky Harbor to Tempe residents....
Kevin Zimmerman

Tempe mayor: Phoenix-sent mailers on Coyotes arena plan is ‘scare tactic’

Corey Woods took offense to Phoenix and Sky Harbor Airport sending residents of his city a mailer about the Coyotes' proposed arena.
15 hours ago
Goaltender Karel Vejmelka #70 of the Arizona Coyotes is introduced before the NHL game against the ...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Coyotes ranked with NHL’s worst goaltending tandem

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski deemed the Arizona Coyotes to have the NHL's worst goaltending tandem in his rankings for the 2022-23 season.
3 days ago
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes prepares for the first round of the 2021 NHL ...
Jordan Leandre

Arizona Coyotes add 2 former NHL players as development coaches

The Arizona Coyotes appointed former NHL veterans Kurtis Foster and Jeff Shantz to their player development staff on Monday.
5 days ago
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson (34) makes a save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes right wing...
Jordan Leandre

Arizona Coyotes claim goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers

The Arizona Coyotes added to their goaltending corps Friday, claiming Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.
8 days ago
Andre Tourigny (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Tom Kuebel

Arizona Coyotes face daunting early schedule with 2 long road trips

The Arizona Coyotes face the difficulties of playing 27 of its first 31 games on the road, including the preseason.
10 days ago
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes prepares for the first round of the 2021 NHL ...
Arizona Sports

Armstrong on new season for Coyotes: ‘We’ve got to take a step forward’

Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, entering the second year of a rebuild, explains his expectations for the 2022-23 season.
11 days ago
Coyotes’ Clayton Keller ranks No. 1 in ESPN’s NHL prospect rankings