ARIZONA COYOTES

Tocchet: Coyotes’ Clayton Keller ‘starting to find right path’ to greatness

Feb 17, 2021, 12:11 PM

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller burst onto the scene early on in his NHL career.

Known for his offense, Keller led the Coyotes in points in the first two years he played in the NHL. Keller placed third in the Calder Trophy voting as the NHL’s top rookie during the 2017-18 season.

But since his 65-point rookie season, Keller’s production has declined year over year. The lack of scoring was especially evident through the first 10 games of this season, as Keller registered just two goals and two assists.

Since Feb 6, however, it’s been a different story.

Looking at the previous five games, Keller has taken a big step forward, recording three goals, two of which were game winners, and three assists. He’s also posted four penalty minutes.

“Clayton’s a great kid. I’ve been hard on him this year. Two weeks ago we had some conversations that were tough on him but he responded,” head coach Rick Tocchet told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “Keller’s not the biggest guy but he’s got to play inside, he’s got to play situational hockey. He’s got to understand the right time to do things and the wrong time.”

“For these two weeks and especially the last five games, he’s doing most of the things right and that’s when you get rewarded. His battle level, you watch him and he’s getting in there and staying in there. When Keller gets in trouble he plays on the outside and he tries the fancy stuff at the wrong times. Then he gets frustrated and his effort level goes down.”

For Tocchet, the answer to Keller’s up-and-down season is simple. The forward certainly has the talent. It’s on him to make the most of his abilities when moments call for it.

“Young guys, they want to be the best. Sometimes they don’t know the path to get there,” Tocchet said. “They think other ways sometimes and I think it’s important that you find common ground with these kids to get there. He knows the path he was going he was never going to get there.

“I think he’s starting to understand he’s going to have to go down this path to be that great player he wants to be. He’ll do anything. The guy put a $50,000 shooting gallery in his house. I thought that was amazing. … It’s there, it’s just the matter of what path he wants to go on. I think he’s starting to find it.”

Arizona Coyotes

Goaltender Connor Ingram...

Associated Press

Utah’s NHL team may use placeholder name for 1st season after move from Arizona

The NHL team moving from Arizona to Salt Lake City will be known as Utah, at least initially, until a long-term name is determined.

1 day ago

Tucson Roadrunners...

Alex Weiner

Mullett Arena? Stay in Tucson? Plan for the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate Roadrunners remains unclear

The path forward for the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, remains unclear under owner Alex Meruelo.

3 days ago

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at Hyatt Regency Phoenix...

Kevin Zimmerman

Gary Bettman, Alex Meruelo blame Tempe voters for Coyotes’ relocation

Gary Bettman and Alex Meruelo are still stuck on a failed Tempe vote on an Arizona Coyotes arena project rather than any missteps.

3 days ago

Gary Bettman and Alex Mereulo speaking with Media in a press conference....

Bailey Leasure

‘We shall return:’ Gary Bettman remains committed to Arizona despite relocation to Utah

Gary Bettman remains supportive of NHL hockey in Arizona and Alex Meruelo despite the hockey team moving to Utah.

3 days ago

Alex Meruelo joins Burns & Gambo to discuss Coyotes move to Utah....

Bailey Leasure

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo says selling Coyotes is something ‘I tried at every cost to avoid’

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo joined 'Burns and Gambo' as he talked about the news of the sale and relocation of the team to Utah.

3 days ago

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo joins Burns & Gambo in studio after team is sold to Utah group o...

Damon Allred

Alex Meruelo: ‘I am the only one’ to bring hockey back to Arizona

Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo believes in actions, not words so he wants Arizona hockey fans focused on the June 27 land auction.

4 days ago

Tocchet: Coyotes’ Clayton Keller ‘starting to find right path’ to greatness