The eighth-highest player to appear on our Arizona Coyotes top 25 under 25 list was a former first-round pick that has been a regular NHL player over the past four years: Lawson Crouse.
19/20 League: Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
Games played: 66
Highest rating: 8
Lowest rating: 9
Crouse was originally selected 11th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2015 NHL Draft but was acquired by the Coyotes over a year later when then-GM John Chayka sent a second and a third-round pick in exchange for the Mt. Brydges, Ontario native along with Dave Bolland’s contract.
After being traded to the desert, Crouse went on to make 72 appearances in the NHL during his rookie season (2016/17) and registered five goals and 12 total points while largely holding down a role on the team’s bottom line - averaging 11:53 while on the ice.
Despite burning a year on his entry-level contract, Crouse spent the majority of the 2017/18 season down in the minors with the Tucson Roadrunners - where he proved to be a more than competent offensive producer in the AHL, with 15 goals and 32 total points in 56 regular-season games.
He did feature 11 times for the Coyotes (1G, 10:56 ATOI) and had an impressive nine-game run in the playoffs, where he earned two goals and eight points.
Since then, Crouse has become a staple on the Coyotes’ bottom six, with back-to-back 25-point seasons (11G-14A and 15G-10A in 81 and 66 games respectively).
But it isn’t his offensive production that has made Crouse a valuable piece to Rick Tocchet’s puzzle, but rather the way he uses his imposing 6-foot-4, 220lbs frame.
Over the past two seasons, Crouse has combined for a whopping 489 hits - making him the big, physical hitter that Tocchet hopes he will have more of with recent additions Tyler Pitlick and Johan Larsson.
Crouse also puts his body on the line in front of his own net, with 73 blocked shots in that same two-year span, and his increased role on the team, with an average of 13:35 last season, sees him play an important part on a team that managed to defeat the Nashville Predators in the qualifying round of the playoffs this past summer.
If Crouse can continue to improve his offensive production, he could be viewed as one of the best-valued bottom six players in the league, especially if he continues to score 15+ goals moving forward.