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Draft Pick Profile: Keller

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes


EDITOR'S NOTE: The Coyotes added five prospects to the mix at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, N.Y. Follow along as ArizonaCoyotes.com profiles all five draft picks.

Photo by Getty Images.

CLAYTON KELLER

Age: 17
Height/Weight: 5-10/168
Position: Center
Hometown: Swansea, Ill.
Round: 1 (7th overall)
2015-16 team: U.S. National Team Development Program

The Skinny:

The Coyotes love Keller's offensive ability; he averaged 1.73 points per game with the U.S. Under-18 team in 2015-16, compiling 37-70—107 in 62 contests. Only one player has collected more points in a season for the USA National Team Development Program: Auston Matthews, the No. 1-Ranked European Skater for the 2016 NHL Draft (55-62—117 in 2014-15).

The Stats:

• His total of 70 assists in 2015-16 established a U.S. NTDP single-season record, besting the previous mark of 64 set the year prior by Jeremy Bracco (selected 61st overall by TOR in 2015).

• Keller, who split the previous season between the U.S. Under-17 and Under-18 teams, also moved past Penguins forward Phil Kessel (104-76—180) into sole possession of first place on the U.S. NTDP career points list (71-118—189).

The Quotes:

Clayton Keller with Tim Bernhardt and Jeff Twohey. Photo by Getty Images.

"It's just awesome to be a part of such a great organization. I'm just so thankful to be picked by them, and just really excited and ready to get started." -- Clayton Keller

"I've always been a smaller guy, so I've always had to prove myself. My hockey IQ and my skills are just at another level." -- Clayton Keller

"I think that's probably the biggest thing for me is just getting stronger and putting on a couple pounds. I think that's what can make me a dominant player in the NHL some day." -- Clayton Keller

"He's a special player. He's a dynamic, play-making, skilled center that's going to be exciting for fans to watch for a long time. He makes players better. He's a possession style player who creates time and space. He's a guy, at that point (in the draft), that we couldn't pass up. He's just too good." -- Coyotes General Manager John Chayka

"He's so smart and uses his body so well to create time and space, and doesn't get hit. You look at Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau, players like that, that's the type of material we think this kid has." -- Coyotes General Manager John Chayka

Clayton Keller. Photo by Getty Images.
"His ability to create is second-to-none, and he’s a fun player to watch. He’s a competitive player. We’re really excited to have him.” -- Coyotes Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Bernhardt

The Fun Facts:

• Keller grew up in the St. Louis area and was coached by former Coyotes captain Keith Tkachuk, among others, during his youth hockey career. Keller and Tkachuk's son, Matthew, are good friends.

• Keller has committed to Boston University for the fall of 2016, along with U.S. NTDP teammates Kieffer Bellowsand Chad Krys.

• Keller says the coolest person he has ever met is Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

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