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NHL.com 31 in 31: Top Prospects for Arizona Coyotes

Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome counted on to make impact this season

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Arizona Coyotes.

For proof of how content the Arizona Coyotes are with their prospect base, look no further than the trade with the New York Rangers on June 23, hours before the 2017 NHL Draft began in Chicago.

The Coyotes traded the No. 7 pick and 21-year-old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to acquire center Derek Stepan and goalie Antti Raanta because they think some of their top prospects are ready to become full-time NHL players and need some veteran guidance. 

Here are the Coyotes' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. Clayton Keller, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 7 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Arizona: 3 GP, 0-2-2; Boston University (NCAA): 31 GP, 21-24-45

Keller, who turned 19 on July 29, should push for a spot in the opening-night lineup, possibly in a top-six role at right wing. He had a strong freshman season at BU and signed his three-year, entry-level contract on March 26, giving him enough time to play three NHL games.

Keller (5-foot-10, 168 pounds), won the Tim Taylor Award, given to the most outstanding freshman in NCAA hockey. He also led the United States with 11 points (three goals, eight assists) when it won the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

2. Dylan Strome, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 3 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Arizona: 7 GP, 0-1-1; Erie (OHL): 35 GP, 22-53-75

Strome, 20, started last season with the Coyotes and was with them until Nov. 20, a total of 17 games, but was scratched for 10 of them. The hope is he won't be scratched at all this season.

The Coyotes sent Strome (6-3, 198) back to Erie hoping to see him add pace to his 200-foot game, from coming back lower in the defensive zone for pucks to going through the neutral zone quicker and being the first forward on the forecheck.

The reviews were excellent. Strome not only scored at an elite rate with Erie, but he added that pace, and strength to his frame. He's up from 185 last season, and the added muscle should help him be an impact center.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

3. Christian Fischer, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 32 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Arizona: 7 GP, 3-0-3; Tucson (AHL): 57 GP, 20-27-47

Fischer, 20, was second in scoring with Tucson of the American Hockey League last season. He played three games with the Coyotes in late January and scored in his first two. He played four NHL games in late March, proving his potential as a future top-six forward.

Fischer, in fact, could be that as early as this season because of his size (6-2, 212), hockey sense, heavy shot, strength on the puck, and maturity. Not only did he produce in Tucson, he played significant minutes in all situations.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

4. Kyle Wood, D

How acquired: Trade from Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 29, 2016

Last season: Tucson (AHL): 68 GP, 14-29-43

Wood, 21, who was selected by the Avalanche with the No. 84 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was Tucson's third-leading scorer last season. He's expected to start this season with the Roadrunners but has an outside chance to be a call-up if the Coyotes have injuries on defense.

Wood is a hulking, 6-foot-5, 235-pound defenseman with a heavy right-handed shot, particularly his one-timer. He has a future on the power play, and the Coyotes believe he could be a top-four defenseman if he improves his skating.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

5. Adin Hill, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 76 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Tucson (AHL): 40 GP, 16-14-6, 3.16 GAA, .906 save percentage

Hill, 21, was the No. 1 goalie in Tucson last season and figures to be again. That puts him third on the NHL depth chart behind Raanta and Louis Domingue.

The Coyotes like Hill because of his size (6-4, 198) and because they think he's a battler. The feeling is that Hill's game improves as the level he plays at improves. He had a solid rookie season in Tucson but must build on it.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20 

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