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NHL Arizona Coyotes Draft Profiles: Dennis Yan takes difficult path to prominence

The Russian-American forward has not had the most straightforward development path, but he has skyrocketed into first round consideration.

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To make it to major-junior hockey is an extraordinary accomplishment. To make it to major-junior on the path Dennis Yan took is borderline miraculous. But after a breakout season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Yan has entered the conversation to take an even bigger leap to the NHL, and the Arizona Coyotes may be the one to help him make that leap.

#30 - Dennis Yan - Left Wing - Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

2014-15 Stats: 59 GP, 33 G, 31 A, 71 PIMs

The son of Russian parents, Yan was born in Portland, Oregon, but returned to Russia at an early age, where he began to play hockey competitively. He returned to North America at 14 to take advantage of the developmental programs available in the United States, and that proved to be a wise choice as he recorded 12 goals and 16 assists for the US Under-17 team in 2013-14.

Yan is the quintessential winger that has tremendous offensive upside, according to Shawn Reznik in his profile of the Portland native:

He’s a natural goal scorer with a lightning quick release and pinpoint accuracy. The finesse he shows is consistent from shift to shift. Yan’s hands are silky smooth which gives him time and space to use his shot. His skating is crisp and agile making him a speedy winger.

His first season in the QMJHL was a rousing success, as he put up 64 points in his first major-junior season. He also scored seven goals in seven playoff games for Shawinigan. The scoring touch is clearly there. His backchecking game still needs improvement though, which may slow his development with the Coyotes.

At 6'1" and 187 pounds, Yan has decent size for a winger. His size and his strong first season in Canada have shot him up many a draft ranking; Yan was not ranked by numerous scouting organizations through the months of February and March before ultimately landing at #30 on Central Scouting's final rankings in April.

Overall, Dennis Yan has a lot of room to grow, but has a high ceiling as a goal scoring winger in the NHL as well. The Coyotes could definitely consider taking a chance on Yan and rewarding his unorthodox path to professional hockey.