Both highly regarded prospects have the potential to be an impact player next season for the Arizona Coyotes. But, will they? They have played just ten NHL games between them.
Dylan Strome needs to shine
Strome, who broke all kinds of OHL scoring records while with the Erie Otters, must show his potential this season. The Arizona Coyotes have been very patient with his development, trying not to rush him into the limelight. Still, when the evidential comparisons to Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid start, it’s difficult to not wonder when will Strome be an NHL player?
The 2015 3rd overall pick is in the Phoenix area this summer working out, lifting weights, and increasing his body bulk to compete at NHL levels. He has gained 15 pounds to put him at the 200lb level, more of an NHL size. He’s been working on his known weakness… skating with skating coach Dawn Braid. Strome told NHL.com’s Jerry Brown: “I’ve been working hard in the gym and on the ice and I feel a lot stronger and quicker.”
Strome’s work ethic is encouraging and he realizes hard work is rewarded when he mentioned, “Every player has the same goal of making the NHL and playing 82 games, but nothing is given to you. I know if I don’t prove I’m ready, I’m going to be in the minors. It drives me to show what I can do.”
So, is the fact that the Coyotes have been nudging him along so as to not push him too hard a good strategy? He agrees that last season he wasn’t ready for the rigors of the NHL when he told Brown, “I think it was the right move go back last year. I played at a lot of levels against all different styles and with all different teammates and linemates, and I soaked up all of it.”
Strome will be a third-line center for Arizona Coyotes
Strome will probably line up with Tobias Rieder who has a decent year last season with 16 goals, 18 assists on one wing. Christian Fischer will be on the other wing. Fischer is a big kid who stands 6’2″, 214lbs and scored three goals on his first three shots in the NHL last season. He’ll be looked upon to put the puck in the net regularly, as well as use his size to crash the net… a la Shane Doan.
Strome has excellent playmaking skills and should do well with Rieder’s speed and Fischer’s scoring prowess to enhance his success.
We’ll see as the season starts, as all eyes will be on Strome.
Clayton Keller is the real deal
Many are saying that Keller has a better shot at performing in the NHL this season than Strome. His skating is much better, his puck handling abilities rank up there with Max Domi‘s and his speed will just blend in well with a team of greyhounds already flying down the ice. In 31 games last season for Boston University in the NCAA, Keller amassed 45 points (21 goals, 24 assists) in 31 games to show his scoring potential.
His small size (5’10”, 168lbs) will make him a target of larger NHL bodies, but they need to catch him before they can hit him. Nevertheless, It didn’t stop Keller’s outstanding statistics at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships where he led the United States in points with 11 (3 goals, 8 assists) as the US were crowned World Junior champions in the process. The Missouri-born forward followed this up in the summer in the World Championships as he was the joint-second highest in goals for Team USA with 5 tallies.
He likes to model his game on Patrick Kane, who like Keller is also undersized at 5’11”. That just shows his desire to be the best he can be in the NHL. Keller just turned 19 on July 29, 2017, and is another spoke in the wheel of the Coyotes’ fountain of youth.
Because of Keller’s size, he will more than likely play on the wing instead of his normal center ice position. The Arizona Coyotes seem to be set at center with number one center Derek Stepan taking the reins on a line likely to include Domi and yet unsigned Anthony Duclair. Putting Keller on the second line configuration that comprises sophomore center Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini.
The Arizona Coyotes have two very talented and promising young players in Strome and Keller. Whether or not they can move to the next level and play up to expectations is yet to be determined. Strome should be able to score 18-20 goals, while Keller is more of a playmaker, even on the wing he could tally up to 30-35 points in his rookie year.
The Arizona Coyotes made some moves this summer headlined by bringing in Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, and Niklas Hjalmarsson which should fortify the penalty kill, power play and defensive flaws the team has displayed the last several seasons.
Even NHL.com had some nice things to say about the plight of the NEW Arizona Coyotes.
Now, as they say, the team needs to go out there and show us all what they’ve got.
New Head Coach Rick Tocchet will have the boys playing tough and exciting hockey… you can be assured of that.
What do you think of the two top prospects Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome? Will they shine bright for the Arizona Coyotes? Let us know in the comments section below.
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