The Arizona Coyotes haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2011-12 season, a campaign in which they were still named the Phoenix Coyotes and reached the Western Conference Final.
In the years since, the Coyotes have struggled to attain both success and consistency. Mired by an inability to prevent and goals as well score them on a regular basis, the Coyotes have stood relatively stagnant over the past six seasons. However, signs of breaking out of this slump have begun to emerge, as Arizona holds solid young players throughout their lineup.
Although they arguably don’t have the pieces necessary to embark on a legitimate postseason run, the Coyotes are trending in the right direction and will be fuelled in the years ahead by their up-and-coming young talent.
Stanley Cups: One
2017-18 Record: 29-41-12; 70 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Clayton Keller; 23G, 42A, 65PTS
Farm System Grade: B
Top 10 Prospects:
- Barrett Hayton
- Nick Merkley
- Pierre-Olivier Joseph
- Kevin Bahl
- Kyle Capobianco
- Tyler Steenbergen
- Cam Dineen
- Noel Hoefenmayer
- Filip Westerlund
- Ty Emberson
The State of the Coyotes’ Farm System
Arizona’s farm system is relatively strong, as the franchise holds a number of prospects at varying positions of the ice who should play a role with the team in the years ahead. Unfortunately, the departure of Dylan Strome to the Chicago Blackhawks could sting for quite some time, as the former third-overall selection wasn’t given an adequate chance to breakthrough with the Coyotes at the NHL-level.
With the player once perceived to be the team’s first line centre of the future in the wind, Arizona will need to develop Barrett Hayton into a star centre if they hope to attain meaningful success in the future. Widely compared to Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Hayton plays a well-rounded and professional-style of game defined by its consistency at both ends of the ice.
In addition to Hayton, the Coyotes hold a trio of prospects in Nick Merkley, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, and Kevin Bahl who should see significant playing time in Arizona. In Merkley, the Coyotes hold a somewhat undersized yet incredibly capable offensive threat who can create plays with ease as well as blast the puck into the net. Further, in Joseph and Bahl, Arizona features two sizeable defenders highly regarded for their respective two-way games.
Outside of these four prospects, the Coyotes’ farm system dwindles rather quickly. Sure, the team’s #5-10 prospects could certainly become NHL players, however, their paths to hockey’s highest level will be longer and much more difficult in the long run. Due to this lack of depth within their system, Arizona’s prospect pool receives a “B” ranking this season.
One Coyotes Prospect to Watch
Considering we all know of Hayton’s exploits very well, let’s take a moment to highlight one of the Coyotes’ lesser known prospects who continues to make a name for himself in the OHL.
A second round choice of Arizona in the 2018 NHL Draft, Bahl is a 6-foot-6, 235-pound defender who can play a lethal game at both ends of the ice. Defensively, Bahl is an overwhelming presence who can punish attacking players owing to his physicality or dis-possess an opponent through the use of his active stick.
Moreover, Bahl is becoming a solid player in the offensive zone as well. As a defender who skates incredibly well for his size, Bahl can traverse the blue line with ease and frequently enjoys ice time on the power play for the Ottawa 67’s. Although his agility and maneuverability will increase with time, Bahl stands as one of the Coyotes best yet underrated prospects.