The 2015 NHL Entry Draft will be remembered by Arizona Coyotes fans for the team missing out on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. But in the fifth round of the draft, the Coyotes got their own "Conor" when they drafted Scituate, Massachusetts native Conor Garland.
19/20 League: NHL (Arizona Coyotes)
Games played: 68
Highest rating: 4
Lowest rating: 7
In his final two seasons in the QMJHL, Garland had 30+ goals and over 120 points. He wore an "A" in his final season with the Moncton Wildcats, which seemed like it could be the start to a very promising career.
Conor Garland's first two seasons with the Tucson Roadrunners were pretty mediocre. He improved between his first two seasons, but not much and it looked like he may have hit his ceiling.
The 2018 offseason would prove to be a major one for Garland. He was able to change his game, and he was more willing to head to the net. In just 21 games of the 2018-19 season, he scored 12 goals, compared to the 13 goals he had in his first 110 games. This change didn’t come with a corresponding detriment to his defense, and he finished his final season with the Roadrunners as a +11.
Garland’s quick start in the 2018-19 draft earned him a callup for the Coyotes. In his first 47 NHL games, he scored 13 goals and showed a willingness to go to the front of the net and pay the price for goals.
His willingness to pay the price was most apparent on January 12th when he scored a goal when the puck was redirected off his head into the net. He would eventually score a second goal that game.
Expectations were high for Garland this past season. He had shown that he can be a goalscorer, something the team desperately needed.
Conor Garland would have a huge 2019-20 season. The prior season the team didn't have a single player hit the 20 goal plateau, Garland would finish with 22 goals in 68 games.
Unfortunately, things didn't go as well for Garland in the postseason. He went into the postseason as the team's top goalscorer but was limited to just a single goal and an assist in his eight games. He also sustained an injury in the team's second to last game, preventing him from playing in the final game.
Garland isn't afraid to go to the front of the net, and his willingness to go to those areas has rewarded him with goals. Earlier this month Craig Morgan wrote about his desire to be more of a playmaker, get more assists. If Garland can become a more complete player he will move from a very good player to an excellent one.