Dom Lunardo | April 27th, 2020
For a team that’s missed the playoffs for the past seven seasons, there sure is a lot of optimism surrounding the Arizona Coyotes. To begin with, there’s a new owner in town. His name? Alex Meruelo, who’s brought a new outlook to the hockey operations department down in Glendale. In addition, there’s general manager John Chayka, who brought the likes of Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel to the desert with hopes of gaining some semblance of hockey relevancy. Head coach Rick Tocchet heads the list as one of the most innovative and well-respected coaches in the National Hockey League.
Hockey in the Desert
On the ice, the Coyotes have close-knit groups of players that work hard for their coach and the fans out in “Zona”. This Coyotes group is starving for a spot in the postseason and was in contention for one before the halt of the NHL season. Over the past three to four seasons, the Coyotes have also compiled a pretty good group of prospects looking to make the jump to the pros. These youngsters represent hope and the next wave of talent in the desert. Let’s dive in and take a more comprehensive look at the top-three prospects “in the system” for the Arizona Coyotes.
Number 3: Tyler Steenbergen, Left-Wing, Tuscon Roadrunners (AHL)
Ask any Canadian hockey fan what they think of when they heard the name, Tyler Steenbergen? They’ll probably take you back to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, New York. With just over two minutes left to play in the Gold Medal Game, Steenbergen, who assumed a limited role with minimal ice-time all tournament long scored the game-winning goal against the mighty Swedes, It was easily one of the most dramatic moments in Team Canada and tournament history), and put Steenbergen on the map as a player.
Born in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Steenbergen is a good skater who will provide good depth on Arizona’s bottom-6 forward group in the next couple of years. At 22 years of age, Steenbergen has good hands and who thrives on important moments in games. He’s smart, shifty, and a good-two way forward who will be a real asset to the Coyotes organization.
Number 2: Victor Söderström, Defenseman, Brynas IF (Swedish Hockey League)
The Swedish-born defenseman, Victor Söderström is our runner-up at number two. The silky-smooth blue-liner was one of the best defensemen at this past winter’s best-on-best World Junior tournament. Söderström is a dynamic, two-way defender who loves to jump up in the play and create offense. He carries the puck with confidence and has a real presence on the ice. GM John Chayka has been ecstatic with his development and envisions Söderström as a shoo-in on the Coyotes blue line as early as next season. Söderström is an excellent competitor who loves to engage (and win) battles along the boards. He has a good first pass and can skate his way out of pressure and elude oncoming attackers. Söderström is one to watch in the Coyotes youth ranks.
Number 1: Barrett Hayton, Center, Arizona Coyotes (NHL)/Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Coming in at number one if the Kitchener, Ontario native, Barrett Hayton. This kid is the second-coming of three-time Stanley Cup champion, Jonathan Toews. A proven winner and born leader, Hayton has the Swiss-army knife in the Arizona Coyotes organization. As if donning the “C” for his junior team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Hayton also captained Team Canada during this past year’s 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship. A tournament that saw the Canadians hoist the gold medal in a nail-biting final against Russia.
Hayton can skate, drive play, and leads by example both on and off the ice. Hayton has good hands, elite puck skills, a killer release, and sees the ice extremely well. At just 19 years f age, the Coyotes selected Hayton in the first round, 5th overall at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and have adored both his play and approach to the game since his time in “The O”.If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Hayton is a future star in the making at the NHL level.
Honorable Mentions: G Adin Hill, C Ryan McGregor
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images