The 2021/22 season is fast approaching, so here at Five For Howling, we’re taking a look at this year’s Arizona Coyotes 25 best players under the age of 25.
One player that keeps his position from last year’s edition of these rankings is our pick for the second-best player the Coyotes have under the age of 25, Clayton Keller.
20/21 League: NHL (Arizona Coyotes)
Games played: 56
Highest rating: 2
Lowest rating: 3
Last year’s rankings: 2
Keller had an impressive 2021 season with the Coyotes and was playing at a pace close to that seen during his career-best rookie campaign.
In 56 games with the Coyotes, Keller netted 14 goals and racked up 35 total points - which both ranked fourth on the team respectively, with two of the players sitting above him in production, Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak, no longer with the organization.
Had Keller maintained his production over a full 82-game season, he would have scored around 20-21 goals and registered about 51 points.
This could have been the first time since his 2017/18 rookie season that Keller eclipsed the 20-goal and 50-point mark, with the Covid-shortened 2019/20 season also seeing him play at that pace after 70 games.
If Keller can put up 20 goals a season and hit 50 points consistently, his $7.15 million cap hit would become less of an issue, especially considering he only recently turned 23 years old and has plenty of his career still ahead of him.
Keller is a talented offensive player and is likely to find himself playing a more prominent role as the team undergoes a rebuild, with the expectation being that he can lead the line and be the top-line guy the Coyotes hoped he could become when they drafted him seventh overall in 2016.
Defenseman Victory Söderström is viewed as the team’s best prospect, with the likes of Keller having played significantly in the NHL, and there’s every possibility that the Swedish right-hand shot overtakes Keller in these rankings next year if the American forward does not take this opportunity with both hands.
Until then, however, Keller is still the best forward the team has under the age of 25 and will continue to rank highly if he maintains his solid production pace, as seen over the past two seasons.