GLENDALE – Christmas came a few days early for Coyotes prospect Conor Garland, who signed an entry-level contract with Arizona this week.
“Obviously this is a dream come true for me,” Garland said. “You grow up dreaming of playing professionally and this is the first step towards it. I’m very happy. This gives me three years to develop with the Coyotes and I’m thankful they’ve given me the opportunity. It’s exciting for me and my family.”
Playing for the Moncton Wildcats, Garland is leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 80 points (12 goals and 59 assists) in just 33 games.
“Conor is having another terrific season in the QMJHL,” Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. “Although diminutive in stature, his hockey instincts are second to none. With his strong work ethic and high compete level, Conor has a great future. We are happy to get him signed to his first professional contract.”
The Coyotes selected Garland with the 123rd pick in this year’s NHL Draft. The other NHL teams passed on him, presumably, because of his size; he stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 160 pounds.
“There are so many small guys who’ve played in the NHL in the past and playing nowadays,” Garland said. “The game has changed. I don’t look at size as something that’s going to hold me back. I think it’s just an excuse that someone could use if they’re not good enough. Obviously a ton of small guys have made it.”
The Moncton Wildcats are 24-10-4-0 and leading the QMJHL’s Maritimes Division by 10 points. Garland is eager for the rest of the season.
“My team in Moncton is all in and we’re looking forward to a big second half of the season,” Garland said. “We’re going for a championship this year and that’s my first focus. Once the off-season begins I’ll start planning and training to be a pro.”