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Johnny Walker should be on Arizona Coyotes radar in the summer

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The Arizona native has impressed in college.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: DEC 28 ASU Desert Classic - Clarkson v Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the playoffs still a possibility, the Arizona Coyotes are very much focused on the here and now, but keeping one eye on the future can’t hurt.

The Arizona Coyotes are a team on the rise, with results improving since Rick Tocchet and John Chayka took the reins and there is a strong belief that the future of hockey in the desert is looking far more assured.

With the team firmly in the conversation for reaching the playoffs for the first time in eight years, all eyes are on the trade deadline and the immediacy of the team’s performances and personnel.

But there is a player that the organization should keep one eye on in the form of Arizona State Sun Devils forward Johnny Walker.

Walker, 23, is a 6-foot-1, 185lbs right winger hailing from nearby Phoenix, Arizona and has been in impressive form for the developing college program since arriving in 2017.

Over the past three seasons in the Maroon and Gold, Walker has 57 goals and 90 total points in 94 regular-season appearances, solid numbers after going undrafted out of the USHL, where he won the Clark Cup with Chicago Steel at the end of the 2016/17 season.

At the time of writing, Walker is ranked 10th in all of NCAA hockey for total points (32: 17G, 15A) and looks like he could have a promising career as a professional if given the chance to further his development.

This is where the Arizona Coyotes organization should come in. It would be a great story for hockey in the Copper State, to see a homegrown player, who began his fledgling career with the Phoenix Jr Coyotes (Major Bantam), play his college hockey in his home state and then turn professional with the Coyotes organization.

The Tucson Roadrunners would be the logical destination for Walker if he were to be signed by the organization, where he would have a chance to develop under the guidance of head coach Jay Varaday.

Being a local player would be something that young fans in particular would connect with and would be a storyline watched closely by those interested in the game of hockey in Arizona, with hopes of seeing Walker one day step up into the NHL.

The Arizona Coyotes are making the right moves with their long-term development and Walker could be another one of their projects that pay off in the long-run, with a number of lower-profile players going on to impress within the organization.