GLENDALE – For the second year in a row, Coyotes prospect Conor Garland is producing points in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in eye-popping fashion.
Playing for Moncton, Garland, whom Arizona selected with the 123rd overall pick in this year’s draft, has notched 73 points in just 31 games. Last season, he produced 129 points in 67 games and was named the league’s MVP.
“I play on a really good team and I get to play a lot of minutes with good players,” Garland said. “It’s a formula for success. Our line has had a good start to the season. Hopefully we can finish it off well.”
Garland notched at least one point in Moncton’s first 28 games. His impressive point streak ended vs. Saint John on Dec. 9. It was disappointing for him, especially because a goal he believed he scored in that game was not allowed.
“I just want to be a consistent player and help the team win every game,” Garland said. “Offense is my forte so if I’m contributing every game it’s a good sign for me and the team.”
Garland plays on a line with center Cam Askew and winger Manuel Wiederer. Their chemistry is terrific; the trio has combined for 154 points.
“I tend to be the setup guy for them and it works out pretty well,” Garland said.
Garland will head into this week’s games leading the QMJHL with 53 assists, 18 more than the player in second place on that list.
Garland grew up in Massachusetts watching Marc Savard play for the Boston Bruins. He admired the way Savard, who notched 499 NHL assists, approached the game offensively and tries to copy him.
In addition to leading the QMJHL in points and assists, Garland ranks 10th with 20 goals. Unlike past seasons, he has been shooting the puck quite frequently this season.
“I had a lot of assists last year so I think teams are looking to take the pass away from me and give me more space and this has given me more time to shoot the puck,” Garland said. “Sometimes I don’t want to but it’s never a bad play to shoot and if it finds the net it works out.”
Garland, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 160 pounds, realizes it will take more than offense to make it to the NHL. Coyotes coaches told him that point blank at last summer’s development camp and he says their message was received loud and clear. That’s why he’s working to become a well-rounded, 200-foot player.
“I saw guys like Max Domi and Anthony Duclair at the development camp and I got to watch how they play,” Garland said. “They’re both good defensively and very, very good offensively. That’s why they’re in the show, because they can play both ways. You have to be solid defensively if you expect to move on to the NHL.”