Late in yesterday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller went awkwardly into the boards and stayed on the ice. He was stretchered off the ice and transported to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for a broken femur.
Keller joins a long list of Coyotes players who will be out for considerable time. Defenseman Conor Timmins and forward Dmitrij Jaškin have been out for months now, and Craig Morgan of PHNX has reported that forwards Lawson Crouse and Christian Fischer’s seasons are also over.
Forwards Andrew Ladd, Antoine Roussel, Liam O’Brien, Jack McBain, and defensemen Jakob Chychrun and J.J. Moser could potentially play this season, with Andrew Ladd and J.J. Moser reportedly being the closest to returning.
Andre Tourigny: "We won't replace him (Keller) as a player ... but we need to replace his energy and his leadership."— José M. Romero (@RomeroJoseM) March 31, 2022
Clayton Keller leaves a big hole in the Coyotes roster. Losing a player of Keller’s caliber could cost a team a playoff spot, although that is not a concern for the rebuilding Coyotes.
Keller embraced a leadership role this season, both by wearing an “A” and stepping up his game. He reportedly gained muscle this offseason, and he has put that to good use with a career-high 28 goals. He was also just two points shy of matching his rookie year high of 65 points.
But Keller’s game has evolved to so much more than just offense. Head Coach André Tourigny had been playing Clayton Keller on the penalty kill, and he has played a significant amount of time short-handed. Keller is third among forwards in short-handed time on ice, just three seconds behind the second-place Antoine Roussel. Additionally, Lawson Crouse has played the most time short-handed among forwards, playing 113 minutes and 26 seconds over 65 games, so the Coyotes will definitely be experimenting with their penalty kill as the season wraps up.
Keller being out could prove an opportunity for a young player to show what they can do, and the Coyotes have already recalled Hudson Fasching from the Tucson Roadrunners. Seven players who played last night have been recalled from the Tuscon Roadrunners during the season, as did the injured J.J. Moser