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Top 25 under 25: Some new faces in Mayo, Garland, Bunting, Murphy and Hayton

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The Five for Howling crew have ranked the Top 25 players in the organization that are under age 25.

St Louis Blues v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Coyotes have a wealth of young talent spread throughout every level of the organization. In fact, 55 players were young enough to qualify for this year’s rankings, all of whom were still under 25 years old as of August 1.

These rankings are subjective, with each participant deciding for themselves what criteria was most important to inform their choices. Each of our staff members ranked the players they felt should be in the Top 25 and every player that didn’t make their individual list was considered tied at rank 26. The rankings were then averaged and sorted to determine the final ranking.

Here are the players that ranked 20-16:

20. Dysin Mayo

Highest Rank: 12
Lowest Rank: Not Ranked (26)
Last Year’s Ranking: 26

Dysin Mayo played his first full season in the AHL last season after splitting the season prior between the Tucson Roadrunners and the Rapid City Rush. In his first full season with the Roadrunners Mayo has progressed well, but he still has a lot of room to grow.

Mayo has never been an offensive defenseman, so it’s not too surprising to that he finished the season with only 5 goals and 11 assists in 66 games. While not much, it’s definitely an improvement over the previous season’s 1 goal and 2 assists in 25 games with the Roadrunners and 1 goal and 15 assists in the ECHL with the Rush.

As a defenseman Mayo is expected to take a bit more time to develop compared to a forward, and as a more defensive player his growth isn’t going to be as apparent by just looking at the stats line. But right-handed defensemen are assets in this league and his handedness could lead to Mayo getting a call up at some point this upcoming season. It will be interesting to see what he can do in the NHL, and if he can remain defensively responsible he could have a place with the Coyotes in the near future.

19. Conor Garland

Highest Rank: 15
Lowest Rank: Not Ranked (26)
Last Year’s Ranking: 19

In his second season in the AHL, Conor Garland almost doubled his points production with 8 goals and 19 assists compared to his 5 goals and 9 assists in the 2016-17 year. While doubling up on scoring is definitely nice, it remains to be seen if Garland can generate the same level of offense he did in the QMJHL.

Last year we described Garland as a low risk, high reward player being drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. We also predicted that he would have a greater opportunity to play as we expected Christian Fischer to spend time in the NHL (which he did), but unfortunately Mike Sislo, Nick Merkley, and Mario Kempe proved to be tough competition for time on ice.

It’s still too early to write off Garland, and if he takes the same big leap this upcoming season he could easily move up this list. But if he doesn’t continue to improve in the AHL he likely won’t be seeing consistent NHL ice anytime soon.

18. Michael Bunting

Highest Rank: 14
Lowest Rank: 24
Last Year’s Ranking: 20

The Tucson Roadrunners had three players score over 20 goals last season. Dylan Strome, who will be in a future post, Mike Sislo, who was traded to Buffalo this offseason, and Michael Bunting. In 67 games with the Roadrunners, Bunting finished with 23 goals and 20 assists, good enough for fourth on the team in points.

In addition to scoring, Bunting appears to have found his role as a pest. Pests tend to be rather divisive in the hockey world, you hate them when they play against you and you tend to love them when they are on your team. For a more extensive breakdown of how Bunting and this role check out Puck Prose’s Arizona Coyotes Michael Bunting Is The NHL’s Next Pest by Tyler Samson.

Last year we wrote that “Michael Bunting is probably one of the lowest ranked player on this list who has a good chance of seeing NHL ice this season”. Bunting didn’t see NHL ice last season, likely because the Coyotes signed Zac Rinaldo for that role, the sentiment remains the same and its pretty easy to see Bunting in Sedona Red next season.

17. Trevor Murphy

Highest Rank: 11
Lowest Rank: Not Ranked (26)
Last Year’s Ranking: Not Ranked

A newcomer to the desert, the Arizona Coyotes acquired Trevor Murphy along with Pierre-Cedric Labrie from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Tyler Gaudet and John Ramage. Murphy had gone undrafted but impressed the Predators at their prospect camp in 2015. He signed an entry-level contract and began playing with the Milwaukee Admirals that season.

Murphy has been playing in the AHL since the 2015-16 season and put up pretty decent numbers for the Admirals throughout the years. Last year splitting time with the Roadrunners and Admirals he finished with career highs in assists and points with 25 and 35 respectively.

Acquiring Murphy was definitely a move to boost their AHL team as the Roadrunners were preparing for a playoff run but Murphy showed that he may be ready for the next step. Murphy made his NHL debut on March 24th and played well enough for the Coyotes. In 8 games he notched 1 goal and 2 assists, not a lot but more than you would expect from a player who had, until then, only played in the AHL. The Coyotes defense has pretty much solidified moving forward, but if the end of last season is any indication Murphy could be one of the first players called up next season.

16. Barrett Hayton

Highest Rank: 10
Lowest Rank: Not Ranked (26)
Last Year’s Ranking: Not ranked

As of late the Coyotes have been no stranger to the question “what if they had drafted x player instead?” That question will probably follow Dylan Strome for possibly his entire career, especially when looking at how quickly Mitch Marner was able to start consistently producing in the NHL. But Strome had a whole season before people started thinking that way about him, Barrett Hayton barely had a chance to put on his jersey before some people treated Hayton’s drafting as a major misstep.

It’s important to note that the Coyotes and General Manager John Chayka were not alone in thinking that Barrett Hayton ranked as highly as he did. In his 31 Thoughts article Elliotte Friedman revealed that Hayton almost went higher and could have been selected 3rd by the Montreal Canadiens. Clearly the General Managers and scouts saw something that the people doing the draft rankings did not.

All draft drama aside how is Barrett Hayton as a player? On the whole he is a very solid prospect for the Coyotes who will be allowed to grow at his own pace. GM Chayka made a few transactions these past two offseason to strengthen the Coyotes down the middle and thus there is absolutely no reason to rush Hayton, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes.

Hayton is likely to spend the next season in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he will have a chance to get more ice time then he would with the Coyotes. Last season with the Greyhounds he finished with 21 goals and 39 assists in 63 games, not exactly eye popping numbers but he is likely to move up as Hayden Verbeek will likely be spending his season with the Laval Rocket.

The ceiling for Hayton at this point is a Selke caliber player, a center who can win their team games by being defensively solid and generating offense as needed. Its true that the Coyotes were starved for goals last season and Hayton is going to be adding a whole lot in that area next season, but next season when we do this list next season he could be much higher.