After drafting mostly defensemen in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes switched things up with their second pick of the fifth-round. From the Swift Current Broncos the Coyotes selected center Tyler Steenbergen.
Team: Tucson Roadrunners
Regular Season Games Played: 63
Playoff Games Played: N/a
Playoff Goals: N/a
Playoff Assists: N/a
In his first professional season, Steenbergen has taken some time adjusting. In the WHL Steenbergen was a solid goalscorer, finishing his last two seasons with 98 goals in 128 regular-season games. Last season he finished 13th on the Roadrunners in points with 22 points and he was 12th in goals scored.
The switch from Juniors hockey to professional hockey can be a tough one, and it’s not too surprising to see Steenbergen’s offense drop. But both the Coyotes and Roadrunners need more offense in the next few seasons and Steenbergen is a possible solution to that problem.
If you want a recent example of a player struggling in the AHL when they first made the transition look no further then Conor Garland. After two seasons which saw Garland score 5 and 8 goals, Garland would have a breakout season with the Roadrunners. Due to injuries he would get called up by the Coyotes, and his hard work earned him a roster spot and made him a fan favorite.
While things are far from guaranteed Steenbergen remains one of the Coyotes’ better prospects. In Corey Pronman’s ranking of NHL teams’ farm system, Steenbergen was listed 12th with Pronman noting:
He’s a very good skater and goal-scorer who can finish from mid-distance consistently. He has good offensive skill, but the question is if he’s dynamic enough with the puck to create enough offensive zone time to make the most of his scoring.
It remains to be seen if Steenbergen can replicate his success playing for the WHL in the NHL. But another season in Tucson can hopefully give the better a better idea of his offense can improve.
Like all players, Steenbergen is going to learn over the next few seasons that what worked in the lower leagues won’t work as you play in better leagues. But many players have shown you can still find success if you keep working and improving.