Ranking the Coyotes’ top prospects at every position

Jul 13, 2016, 4:15 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2016, 2:56 pm
Arizona Coyotes' Dylan Strome smiles during the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) ...
Arizona Coyotes' Dylan Strome smiles during the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) Rookie Showcase in Toronto, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

It’s generally wise for media members to stay away from player evaluations. Unless the analysis is obvious to the eye or general in terms, deciding which players look good and which do not is a recipe for misguided and often off-base conclusions — it’s a job best left to the trained professionals.

That said, in 20 years of covering the Coyotes, I am hard pressed to remember a more talented group of prospects. The group on the ice at the Coyotes’ development camp underscored that notion last week at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

With the possible exception of goaltender, the Coyotes boasted at least a pair of genuine NHL prospects at every position, thanks to a 2016 NHL Draft that focused heavily on defensemen.

“We were even missing (injured forward) Nick Merkley, who we think is a really good player,” general manager John Chayka said. “Usually, if you’re missing one of your first-round picks (2015) it shows, but there was still so much talent out there.”

The Coyotes’ prospect pool has been lauded by numerous analysts, with several outlets tabbing the Coyotes talent among the best, if not the best in the NHL. That got me thinking that it might be helpful to have a position-by-position breakdown of the top prospects in the system with some thoughts from Chayka.

Here goes…

GOALTENDERS

No. 1: Adin Hill

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6-4, 190

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Draft status: 2015 3rd round (76th)

2015-16 team: Portland (WHL)

2015-16 stats: 65 games, 32-27-6, 2.96 GAA, .917 SP

Chayka’s take: “So far, he’s been exceptional — even his approach off the ice. He’s got the right vibe for a goalie. He’s got real long limbs. You get so used to watching Mike Smith in goal that other goalies look small, but he almost looks like Smitty. He’s big and athletic and its just seems like pucks have to hit him because there’s no other place for them to go. We’re really high on him.”

No. 2: Marek Langhamer

Age: 21 (turns 22 on July 22)

Height/Weight:  6-2, 192

Hometown: Moravska Trebova, Czech Republic

Draft status: 2012 7th round (184th)

2015-16 team: Springfield (AHL)/ Rapid City (ECHL)

2015-16 stats: 19 games, 7-9-2, 3.80 GAA, .883 SP; 8 games, 5-2-1, 2.23 GAA, .935 SP

Chayka’s take: “He’s an interesting guy. He had a strong year in the ECHL and a lot of good goalies have come from that level. He’s still learning the craft, but both (development coach) Corey Schwab and (goalie coach) Jon Elkin rave about his work ethic.”

No. 3 Erik Kallgren

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6-2, 181

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Draft status: 2015 7th round (183rd)

2015-16 team: Oskarshamn IK (Swedish Elite)

2015-16 stats: 20 games, 9-10, 2.77 GAA, .897 SP

Chayka’s take: “It’s still a little too early to judge what he can bring. We’ll just have to wait and watch.”

LEFT DEFENSE

No. 1: Jakob Chychrun

Age: 18

Height/Weight: 6-2, 205

Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida

Draft status: 2016 1st round (16th)

2015-16 team: Sarnia (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 62 games, 11 goals, 49 points

Chayka’s take: “He came in and staked his claim as our best defensive prospect with his balance of size and skill and skating ability. With a little work, he should be in an Arizona Coyotes jersey for a long, long time. He’s a guy we envision playing 20 to 25 minutes a game and in all situations.”

No. 2 Cam Dineen

Age: 18

Height/Weight: 5-11, 183

Hometown: Toms River, New Jersey

Draft status: 2016 3rd round (68th)

2015-16 team: North Bay (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 68 games, 13 goals, 59 points

Chayka’s take: “He’s a skilled, puck-moving player. He’s not that big, but he’s super, super smart and that’s tough to teach. He’s just got it. He’s a little behind Chychrun in physical maturity so he’ll need some work in the gym, but he has a good work ethic.”

No. 3: Kyle Capobianco

Age: 18

Height/Weight: 6-1, 178

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Draft status: 2015 3rd round (63rd)

2015-16 team: Sudbury (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 68 games, 7 goals, 43 points

Chayka’s take: “His game has improved. He has good hockey sense and play-making ability so we look for him to continue to progress. He’s got to fill out physically, but he changed gyms and came into camp and was playing well.”

RIGHT DEFENSE

 No. 1: Anthony DeAngelo

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 5-11, 182

Hometown: Sewell, New Jersey

Draft status: 2014 1st round (19th by Tampa Bay)

2015-16 team: Syracuse (AHL)

2015-16 stats: 69 games, 6 goals, 43 points

Chayka’s take: “He would probably go to the top of the list on the right side. “He’s a high-end, skilled right-shot defensemen who could probably play on the power play in the NHL right now. He’s got some maturing to do both on and off the ice but when you get a chance to get a talent like that for the 37th overall pick, for me the risk profile was right.”

No. 2: Kyle Wood

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6-5, 209

Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario

Draft status: 2014 3rd round (84th, Colorado)

2015-16 team: North Bay (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 49 games, 8 goals, 39 points

Chayka’s take: “For a guy of his size to have his puck game and ability to run a power play is a rarity. He’s got to work on the defensive side of game, and he’s been working with (skating coach) Dawn Braid on his skating.

No 3: Dysin Mayo

Age: 19 (turns 20 in August)

Height/Weight: 6-0, 185

Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia

Draft status: 2014 5th round (133rd)

2015-16 team: Edmonton (WHL)

2015-16 stats: 71 games, 6 goals, 43 points

Chayka’s take: “There is nothing dynamic about his game that jumps out at you but he’s just solid in all areas. He’s a smaller-stature player but I like him a lot. He will play in Tucson next year and should have a solid year. For him, it’s about developing an identity of who he is in the NHL so coaches know in certain situations were they can use him. It was interesting, I asked him who he models his game after in the NHL and he said ‘I don’t know.’ I’d like him to choose a model.”

LEFT WING

No. 1: Brendan Perlini

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6-2, 205

Hometown: Guildford, England

Draft status: 2014 1st round (12th)

2015-16 team: Niagara (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 57 gams, 25 goals, 45 points

Chayka’s take: “There’s been some angst over his point totals at the junior levels, but I give him credit for focusing in on the areas of his game that needed improvement. We’re still asking him to work on the defensive side of his game, trying to create more speed through the neutral zone and being more aware of structure. The point totals will come.”

No 2: Michael Bunting

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 5-11, 183

Hometown: Scarborough, Ontario

Draft status: 2014 4th round (117th)

2015-16 team: Springfield (AHL)

2015-16 stats: 63 games, 11 goals, 25 points

Chayka’s take: “His improvement in the AHL was significant. He didn’t get a lot of ice time but I thought he had a great attitude and approach. People always worry about players’ confidence when they go through hard times but I think it’s good to go through some adversity and learn from it.”

No. 3 Brendan Warren

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6-0, 191

Hometown: Carleton, Michigan

Draft status: 2015 3rd round (81st)

2015-16 team: Michigan (NCAA)

2015-16 stats: 38 games, 5 goals, 17 points

Notable: Warren was named to USA Hockey’s national junior evaluation camp roster (along with Fischer).

RIGHT WING

No. 1: Christian Fischer

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6-1, 212

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Draft status: 2015 2nd round (32nd)

2015-16 team: Windsor (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 66 games, 40 goals, 90 points

Chayka’s take: “He’s a natural leader with all kinds of great playing attributes. He’s a big, heavy-skilled body and real possession driver. The thing that gets lost about him is he doesn’t just get to the net and score a lot of goals in tight areas off good shots and rebounds and deflections, he also makes plays in tight quarters and that’s impressive for a guy his size. He’s just one of those guys with the right mentality who will get better and better.”

No. 2: Nick Merkley

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 5-11, 192

Hometown: Calgary, Alta.

Draft status: 2015 1st round (30th)

2015-16 team: Kelowna (WHL)

2015-16 stats: 43 games, 17 goals, 48 points

Chayka’s take: “We still think very highly of him. He’s had some tough injuries (shoulder, ACL) the past couple years but he’s working hard to get back and we’ll just have to wait and see how he comes out of this.”

No. 3: Conor Garland

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 5-8, 163

Hometown: Scituate, Massachusetts

Draft status: 2015 5th round (123rd)

2015-16 team: Moncton (QMJHL)

2015-16 stats: 62 games, 39 goals, 128 points

Chayka’s take: “I supported drafting him heavily so there is a personal interest here. He led the (QMJHL) league in scoring back-to-back years and sometimes with players of his size, they can be a bit soft, but he plays with significant bite to game. He still has to learn to adapt his game to the pro level, but with that kind of production, he’s obviously an exciting player to watch.”

CENTER

No. 1: Dylan Strome

Age: 19

Height/Weight:  6-3, 187

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Draft status: 2015 1st round (3rd)

2015-16 team: Erie (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 56 games, 37 goals, 111 points

Chayka’s take: “He’s a lot like Max (Domi) in one respect. When you ask a player to address certain things in his game, you have respect when he does it and does it with the right attitude. For me it was about his physicality: Is he strong enough to handle NHL players? He came into camp and he looks thicker and looks quicker. He’s done everything we have asked of him and he came very close to making the team last season. Now it’s about proving he belongs at training camp.”

No. 2 Christian Dvorak

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6-0, 190

Hometown: Frankfort, Illinois

Draft status: 2014 2nd round (58th)

2015-16 team: London (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 59 games, 52 goals, 121 points

Chayka’s take: “Of everyone in development camp, he may have been the guy who made the biggest impression. He did a lot of things that made us think ‘this guy is NHL ready.’ We had the same feeling when we watched Domi and Duclair last year.”

No. 3 Clayton Keller

Age: 17

Height/Weight: 5-10, 163

Hometown: Swansea, Illinois

Draft status: 2016 1st round (7th overall)

2015-16 team: USNTDP

2015-16 stats: 85 games, 50 goals, 144 points

Chayka’s take: “It’s no secret we’re trying to build our team with speed and skill. He’s an exciting player, a dynamic player; smart and creative.”

No. 4 Ryan MacInnis

Age: 20

Height/Weight: 6-3, 185

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Draft status: 2014 2nd round (43rd)

2015-16 team: Kitchener (OHL)

2015-16 stats: 59 games, 38 goals, 81 points

Chayka’s take: “You see some of the moves he makes and the goals he scores and you forget he’s 6-4. You don’t typically see that from a player his size. Any other team would be dying for a 6-4 guy up the middle who could do what he does. He’s a high-end prospect and he’s a natural center in our mind. To find that in a 6-4 guy is a real advantage. It will take some time but we are committed because the prize at the end of that road is a big one.”

No. 5: Laurent Dauphin

Age: 21

Height/Weight: 6-0, 180

Hometown: Repentigny, Quebec

Draft status: 2013 2nd round (39th overall)

2015-16 team: Springfield (AHL)

2015-16 stats: 66 games, 11 goals, 24 points

Chayka’s take: “He’s a little bit different from our other center prospects in his style of game, but he plays with great pace and quickness. If he wants to force his way onto the team, I’ll be fine with that. He understands what it takes, and he added weight and strength. He’s a guy who models his game after Patrice Bergeron as a strong two-way player and that’s a great model.”

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Ranking the Coyotes’ top prospects at every position