The Coyotes have one of the most impressive prospect systems in the NHL behind the likes of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Who did we think stood out this season, and who are we worried about? Today, its prospect talk on the round table.
Which prospect showed the most growth?
Sarah Hall- Managing Editor:
I think Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun get my votes for most growth this year. At the start of the season, I wasn’t sure what Dvorak would be able to bring to the Coyotes lineup since they had depth at center. Once Brad Richardson went down, Dvorak showed just how good he was at the position. I think he should at least get some Calder talk, but that’s just my opinion.
Jakob Chychrun, as the second youngest player in the league, impressed many by stepping into a third pairing role this season. Yes, he made young talent mistakes, but he was very impressive.
Carl Pavlock- Contributor
Brendan Perlini. I don’t think he had the best rookie season of the year, but he definitely was the most improved. At the start of this season, he was being written off by some as a draft bust who had a bad final season in Juniors, but finished with 14 goals in 57 games. Given a full season, I think he could definitely be a solid contributor for the team.
Michael Z. Morrissey- Game Day Contributor
Christian Dvorak: We saw Dvorak go from starting in the NHL, to being demoted to the AHL before being recalled, to solidifying his place in the NHL lineup and taking the #1 center spot after the departure of Martin Hanzal. I feel like he could have developed more offensively, but he was on Dave Tippett’s defensive development leash and ultimately it paid off. Bogus stat aside, he led the team in +/- as a rookie. And now that he’s learned a lot about the defensive side of the NHL, he can be let off the leash and show us his offense next season.
Taylor Clark- Roadrunners Contributor:
I have two answers here. In the NHL, Brendan Perlini. Perlini was written off by most people, borderline including myself, after a rough year with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs. Given some small development time in the AHL, he grew into what the Coyotes needed, a bonafide, NHL goal scorer. Sure, his numbers weren’t as great as Dvorak’s, but when you look at where the two stood before the season, Perlini showed the most growth and exceeded expectations.
Now, as someone who spent the season working in Tucson with the Roadrunners, I think it’s fair that Christian Fischer gets some praise. I mean, 3 goals on his first three shots? He was an unexpected gem in the Coyotes’ system and definitely impressed for a player in his first year of professional hockey. I think he could have stuck in the lineup in the NHL, but the AHL assignment is giving him more time to develop and to be a good force on the Roadrunners. It would be nice to see him in the NHL next season.
Joe Versen- Game Day Contributor.
As noted above, Christian Dvorak is solid, skilled, and seems to only be getting better.
Brendan Porter: Former Managing Editor
If the question is growth, the answer is Brendan Perlini. Perlini had an absolutely brutal final year in the OHL and went to Tucson with a lot to prove. He was positively stellar in the NHL this year, with 14 goals in 57 games. If there was a Tobias Rieder Award for best midseason call-up, Perlini would win it hands-down.
Which prospect are you worried about the most?
Nick Merkley and Dylan Strome. Merkley has had a good season in Kelowna with the Rockets, with 23 goals and 40 assists for 63 points in 63 games. Considering he’s coming off of an ACL repair and missing quite a bit time, it’s nice but it’s almost 30 points lower than his draft year totals of 20 goals, 70 assists for 90 points in 72 games. He has been a point-plus-per-game player in the last three years in Juniors.
Dylan Strome continues to confuse me. He’s dominating the OHL with 22 goals and 53 assists for 75 points in only 35 games, but he didn’t or couldn’t find his stride in the NHL and was sent back right as World Juniors came around. Strome was projected to be the new 1C for the Coyotes, but with the awakening of Dvorak’s talent, it could be in peril. Clayton Keller also showed what he could do at a college level at center. Strome will not have a spot handed to him and it will be hard fought next season.
Anthony DeAngelo: DeAngelo’s behavior is well documented, so I won’t go into detail about it here. DeAngelo is simply my biggest worry because his potential is so huge, and for it to be wasted by any means is my worry. If managed correctly, he will be a defensive superstar, but at the moment I’m not sure Arizona has the coaches he needs to develop appropriately.
Nick Merkley. Forget about him? Yeah, I thought so. Even though he was taken 30th overall in the same draft year as Dylan Strome, it seems like he has fallen through the cracks this past year. He’s had injury troubles galore but turning 20 this May, he’s eligible to play with the Roadrunners next season. It will be interesting to see if he develops under a heavier hand.
I trust that Dylan Strome will fulfill his destiny as an elite center like a Joe Thornton or a Mark Scheifele, but until it actually happens, I'll worry. Can't help it.
It has to be Dylan Strome, especially given the team’s glaring needs at center and the remarkable rookie season had by Mitch Marner, who went just one pick later to Toronto. The comparisons are going to be inevitable between the two, and right now Marner is looking like the better choice. Strome needs a big year next year.
Tomorrow we’ll be talking about coaching and the front office.
Who are your hits and misses when it comes to prospects?