With the recent struggles of the Arizona Coyotes comes a ray of hope; the team has loaded up on some tremendously talented prospects, and is poised to build a strong, young core that should keep Arizona competitive in the Western Conference for years to come.
But with so many younger players vying for attention, it can be a little tough to keep track of all the spectacular talent the Coyotes have acquired. So with that in mind, we here at Five For Howling will embark on a journey over the next three weeks through the ranks of future Coyotes; looking at their strengths, their weaknesses, and the likelihood that we will see them in Sedona Red at some point in the future.
The criteria to be considered on this list was simple: the player has to be under 21 years old. Any player drafted, signed, or acquired by the Coyotes is eligible.
The rankings reflect the staff’s collective determination about where the Coyotes’ various prospects rank. When there are wildly diverging opinions, we will delve into the reasons why individual staff members reached differing conclusions.
There are currently 23 prospects under the age of 21 in the Coyotes system. The 24th - Anthony Duclair - will turn 21 on August 26th, and is therefore not considered in this series. Here are the other two players under age 21 who were just on the outside looking in.
#23 - Jared Fiegl - Left Wing - Cornell University - 191st overall pick, 2014 NHL Draft
Highest Rank: 17
Lowest Rank: 23
Entering his junior season at Cornell in the NCAA, Fiegl has a grand total of three points and 57 penalty minutes over 56 games. At 6’ 1" and 213 pounds, Fiegl’s size
Fiegl’s path to the NHL would likely flow through the penalty box, as a pugilist or enforcer unless his offensive numbers took a significant upswing. Unfortunately for him, the NHL game is moving rapidly away from the dedicated fighter type, which means his career ceiling in professional hockey gets lower with each passing year.
(Skip ahead to 1:45 to see Fiegl’s lone goal of the season, a nice piece of work on a rebound).
#22 - Jens Looke - Right Wing - Brynas IF (Sweden) - 83rd overall pick, 2015 NHL Draft
Highest Rank: 15
Lowest Rank: 23
Gauging productivity in European prospects is significantly more difficult due to the fact that young European players play against seasoned veterans and across multiple tiers of professional hockey. Oliver Ekman-Larsson produced 21 points in 47 games in his draft season.
Jens Looke recorded 18 points in 18 games with Brynas IF’s Junior-20 team, but only six points in 43 games in the Swedish Hockey League, Sweden’s highest level. In the 2015-16 season, Looke only played five games in the SHL, in which he recorded no points.
At 6’ 1", Looke has decent size. But at 181 poounds he is underweight for his frame. He also has good offensive instincts, which should serve him well no matter where he ends up. He certainly has promise, as he has four goals and three assists in fourteen career World Junior games, but right now, Looke needs to show that he can stick against the best in his league before North America becomes a realistic option for him.