GLENDALE - All three Coyotes prospects competing at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship have reached the semifinals, which are set for Wednesday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Clayton Keller and the USA will take on Russia in the first semifinal. Dylan Strome will lead Canada against Jens Looke and Sweden in the nightcap. Both games will be on NHL Network.
Strome, whom the Coyotes selected third overall at the 2015 NHL Draft, is Canada's captain and top point producer with eight (two goals, six assists) in five games at this elite tournament. Moreover, he ranks fourth among all players in the face-off circles with a 68.6 win percentage.
"He's Canada's leader and he's getting real good experience in that leadership position," said Coyotes General Manager John Chayka, who recently returned to Arizona after attending several World Junior games. "He does a lot of little things that maybe don't show up on the score sheet, but at the same time he's one of the top scorers in the tournament, too. He's been good."
So has Keller, whom the Coyotes drafted seventh overall last year. Like Strome, Keller has notched eight points (three goals, five assists) in five games and is a force in the face-off circles. He ranks fifth among all players with a 65.0 percent success rate.
"He's dynamic," Chayka said. "He might be one of the best players, for my money, in the tournament. He's skilled, he's smart, he controls the play. His impact on every shift is really high. We're really pleased with him. He's an elite young player."
Looke, whom Arizona picked 83rd overall at the 2015 NHL Draft, has notched one goal and one assist in five games for Sweden, the favorite to win the tournament.
"He's just a solid up-and-down winger," Chayka said. "We project him to be a good pro player and we're hoping to sign him here coming up. He's a good player for Sweden. He's played up and down their lineup and in different situations and has gotten a lot of ice time. Sweden's got a real deep team with good forwards and he fits right in there."
USA vs. Russia, 1 p.m. (AZ time)
Canada vs. Sweden, 5:30 pm. (AZ time)