ESPN ranks Arizona Coyotes prospect system very highly among NHL teams
There is much to be excited about if you are a hockey fan in the state of Arizona, for multiple reasons.
You have Arizona State University going Division I for hockey, a huge milestone considering there are very few Division I hockey programs west of the Mississippi River.
Also there is Auston Matthews, a Scottsdale kid that is being projected as the first overall pick in next year’s NHL Draft.
And according to this story from Chris Peters of CBS Sports, USA Hockey membership rose from 4,860 to 7,329 in just a year. That is the fastest growth among any state in terms of playing membership last season.
The best part of all this hockey excitement is that could all just be an appetizer for what is to come with the Arizona Coyotes.
Yes, the team suffered through a tough injury-plagued 2014-15 season, but the past pains have set the franchise up nicely for plenty of future long-term gains.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Corey Pronman ranked every team by prospect strength and said the Coyotes have the fourth-best group of prospects in the NHL.
The Coyotes have long been an organization known for its emphasis on defense and goaltending, but the Coyotes have built a truly elite foundation of young forwards coming up the pipeline. Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini, Nick Merkley, and Christian Dvorak, among others, give the Coyotes a ton of projected firepower. Today, the team is known as a boring, trap-and-defend-style club. In five years, the Coyotes could be a run-and-gun team.
It’s fair to note that Pronman only put the Edmonton Oilers atop the list because of projected superstar Connor McDavid. Had the team not taken him in this year’s draft, the Coyotes would be higher on the list.
A five-year plan is something fans won’t have to fret about because the young and talented prospect core will begin to make their mark in Glendale this season, highlighted by 2013 first round pick Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.
Domi, the son of former NHL player Tie Domi, posted 102 points in 57 games last year with the London Knights in the OHL.
The 20-year-old has scored 32 goals or more in each of his past three seasons with London and earned captaincy with his team last year. He is offensively-gifted with tremendous puck handling skills and has the scoring instincts of an elite player.
Duclair is expected to be a player of the same offensive caliber.
The former New York Rangers prospect was traded to the Coyotes as part of the Keith Yandle deal at this past trade deadline. The 19-year-old surprisingly made the Rangers out of training camp last season before being sent down to play in juniors with the Quebec Remparts after a few games.
A very bright future is just around the corner for the Coyotes, and it may arrive sooner than people expect.