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Arizona Coyotes 21 Under 21 - #21 - Dean Stewart

The 21st prospect in our 21 under 21 series is a long-term project, but one that the Coyotes hope will pay significant dividends in the future.

Ondrej Palat is one of the most successful 7th rounders in recent years. Late picks can pay off.
Ondrej Palat is one of the most successful 7th rounders in recent years. Late picks can pay off.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2016 NHL Draft had many great moments for the Arizona Coyotes. But one of the best has to be a throwback to many years ago, involving Arizona’s favorite captain:

That young face next to Shane Doan is Portage la Prairie, Manitoba native Dean Stewart. He clocks in at #21 on our countdown of the Coyotes’ best prospects under the age of 21.

#21 - Dean Stewart - Right-Handed Defenseman - University of Nebraska-Omaha - 188th overall pick, 2016 NHL Draft

Highest Rank: 10

Lowest Rank: 21

Stewart turned 18 just two weeks before the Coyotes selected him in the 2016 NHL Draft. In 42 games with the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Stewart had eight goals and twelve assists.

But perhaps Stewart’s best work came en route to the Terriers’ second consecutive league championship, where he recorded three goals and ten assists in thirteen games. Even in a Junior-A league, that kind of consistent production is tantalizing.

At just 170 pounds, Stewart has quite a bit of growing to do. But that is to be expected from a very young seventh round pick. At that stage of the draft, the main goal for organizations is to take a flier on an extremely young prospect in the hope that his raw talent eventually blossoms into something special.

In recent years, that strategy has yielded dividends for many teams. Players selected in the 7th round back in 2011 that have found a home in the NHL include Edmonton’s Iiro Pakarinen (16 points in 80 games), Calgary’s Jyrki Jokipakka (22 points in 109 games), Detroit’s Alexei Marchenko (13 points in 80 games), and most notably, Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat (166 points in 232 games).

That’s the long-game in mind with a pick like Stewart. He’s a 6’ 2" right-handed shot who has put up some promising numbers as a 17 year-old. Stewart does not have to be the next Pavel Datsyuk or Ondrej Palat to make his selection in the 7th round a good one. Even making the NHL in short stints would be a victory for the Coyotes.

So don’t sleep on Dean Stewart. He’s got a long way to go, but there’s a lot to like about him.