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31 in 31

Top prospects for Arizona Coyotes

Hayton could make jump to NHL this season; Merkley, Hill on cusp

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Arizona Coyotes, according to NHL.com.

 

[Coyotes 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 

1. Barrett Hayton, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): 39 GP, 26-40-66

Hayton (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) dominated when he had the puck last season, averaging 1.69 points per game in the Ontario Hockey League, and was strong enough defensively to get it back when he didn't. The 19-year-old is a natural center but may have to shift to wing if he wants to play in the NHL this season.

"Physically he's ready," Coyotes general manager John Chayka said. "I think he's mentally close to ready if not ready. Training camp will sort through some of that stuff. He was a top player last year in the OHL from a production standpoint, from an impact standpoint with his team, from a leadership standpoint. Certainly checked a lot of boxes. ... For a person like Barrett to make the team, he's got to take the jersey from someone else. That's not an easy thing to do and not an easy thing to do for a 19-year-old. We certainly think highly of Barrett, hope he comes in and has a big camp and forces us to make some tough decisions."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Arizona Coyotes 2019-20 season preview

 

2. Victor Soderstrom, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 11 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Last season: Brynas (SWE): 44 GP, 4-3-7; Brynas (SWE-JR): 14 GP, 1-7-8

The Coyotes traded up three spots in the draft to select Soderstrom (5-11, 179), who displayed a mature game with an offensive element that is expected to get better as he gets more confident playing against older competition. The 18-year-old signed his entry-level contract July 7 and will have a chance to play in the NHL this season. He could play for Tucson in the American Hockey League or return to Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League for another season.

"We think he's a guy that's not far off from playing," Chayka said. "He's got a mature game, he's a mature person, he's a strong player. He'll come into camp and push for a spot and we'll see how close he is and then make a decision."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

3. Kevin Bahl, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 55 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Ottawa (OHL): 68 GP, 6-28-34

The 19-year-old stepped up his offensive game last season after he had 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) in 58 games in 2017-18 and still was a formidable defensive presence, including a plus-50 rating that led OHL defensemen.

"I see a big, rangy defenseman who's tough to play against, that eats a lot of minutes in all situations," Chayka said. "For a guy of his size (6-6, 230) he's got good puck skills and good feet. You see the St. Louis Blues and the way their defense is built, they have guys that covered ice and took away space and were tough to play against. He comes in that mold. We don't have a defenseman like him in our system. He's an intriguing guy with high ceiling and developing really nicely."

Projected NHL arrival: 2021-22

 

4. Nicholas Merkley, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 30 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Tucson (AHL): 45 GP, 10-24-34

Merkley (5-10, 194) has been limited by injuries in his two professional seasons, including missing the first 21 games of last season recovering from a torn ACL. The 22-year-old right wing played his first NHL game in 2017-18, and if he can stay healthy, could soon be a regular.

"If it weren't for the injuries, he'd be more than a prospect, he'd be a player already," Chayka said. "Hopefully he can stay healthy and have a big year. He's certainly capable of it."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Adin Hill, G

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

Last season: Arizona: 13 GP, 7-5-0, 2.76 GAA, .901 SV%; Tucson (AHL): 36 GP, 16-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .906 SV%; 

The 23-year-old took advantage of his most extensive NHL opportunity, including being named NHL Second Star for the week ending Dec. 2, when he went 3-0-0 and saved 59 of 60 shots. 

"Just a big (6-6, 202), athletic goalie with a good mind for the game, got good reflexes, moves extremely well in the net," Chayka said. "As much as [Antti] Raanta and [Darcy] Kuemper are two very good goalies, he's right behind those guys nipping at their heels."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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