The Arizona Coyotes have not been great at drafting and developing talent. Even a cursory look at the Coyotes' draft history shows that there are a lot of misses in the early rounds, much less the later rounds. As the Tampa Bay Lightning showed, to be successful you not only need your first-round picks to work out, you need to get players in later rounds like the seventh-round selection Ondřej Palát.
Arizona has been getting better at drafting and development. Conor Garland going for fifth-round selection to the team's leading goal scorer is probably the best indicator of this, but Jan Jeník (3rd round), Matias Maccelli (4th round), and Ivan Prosvetov (4th round) are also progressing well.
Although they didn't draft him, the progress of forward Brayden Burke also indicates that the Coyotes are doing better at developing their players.
Brayden Burke signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Coyotes as an undrafted free agent on March 1, 2018. He played in the WHL with the Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Moose Jaw Warriors, and twice scored over 100 points in a season.
Since signing with the Desert Dogs, Burke has played with the Tucson Roadrunners. His first season was spent adjusting to the professional game, and he finished with a respectable 13 goals and 20 assists in 67 games.
This past season was a breakout season for the Edmonton, Alberta native. Shaking off the dreaded sophomore slump, Burke led the Roadrunners with 21 goals and 52 points in 51 games. He earned a brief call up to the Coyotes, although he didn't see any action, and was named to the AHL All-Star Classic. He also went with the Coyotes to the Edmonton Bubble for the post-season, although he again didn't get any action.
In two short seasons, Burke has gone from an undrafted WHL player to a player who seems poised to be given a shot in the NHL. Burke deserves a lot of credit for his growth as a player, along with Roadrunners' Head coach Jay Varady and General Manager Steve Sullivan.
Burke is in the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract. He has played well enough in the AHL that the team should not hesitate to re-sign him and give him a raise, even if they think he still needs more time in Tucson. But if he doesn't get the call up he is a player to watch.