Coyotes Prospects Dominating the CHL

The Arizona Coyotes have gathered quite an impressive stock of prospects over the last several years.

Not only have they utilized some high draft picks, but they are cashing in on mid-round picks as well, namely at the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts.

The Coyotes have selected nine players at each of the past two drafts. Round by round, that includes three first round picks, three second rounders, and five in the third round. As a result, the Coyotes currently represent a significant portion of the top scorers in all three CHL leagues. In fact, they have 10 players currently in the CHL, drafted in the past two years alone.

Here is a recap of Arizona’s draft picks at the past two NHL Drafts, along with 2015-16 stats, which are currently playing in either the OHL, QMJHL, or WHL.

Note: statistics are as follows; games played-goals-assists-points.

At the 2014 NHL Draft, the Coyotes drafted three CHL players in the first two rounds. However, it may turn out to be the latter of those picks which makes the most impact. Christian Dvorak, of the London Knights, is currently leading the OHL in goals, with 44, and is second only to Kevin Labanc in points, with 101 in just 47 games. Despite being an eighth round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, Dvorak established himself in the league as an 18-year-old, scoring six goals and 14 points in just 33 games in his draft eligible season. The Coyotes saw tremendous potential in the Illinois native, selecting him 58th overall, and it could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft.

2014 NHL Draft

  • 1st round, 12th overall: Brendan Perlini (LW), 45-20-15-35 in Niagara
  • 2nd round, 43rd overall: Ryan MacInnis (C/LW), 49-34-38-72 in Kitchener
  • 2nd round, 58th overall: Christian Dvorak (C/LW), 47-44-57-101 in London
  • 5th round, 133rd overall: Dysin Mayo (D), 60-4-31-35 in Edmonton

Another Arizona draftee from 2014 who is having great success in 2015-16 is second round pick, Ryan MacInnis. The son of NHL Hall of Famer, Al MacInnis, who also played for the Kitchener Rangers, has improved exponentially each and every year in the OHL. Now two years after being drafted, Ryan is leading the Rangers offensively, as well as leading by example as a responsible two-way center. MacInnis’ 34 goals and 72 points lead the Rangers in both categories, while he continues to play a rugged style, similar to the game of Jamie Benn.

The 12th overall pick from 2014, Brendan Perlini has had a more difficult year than his fellow Coyotes’ prospects. In 45 games this season, Perlini has barely totalled half of his production from 2014-15, when he scored 60 points in 43 games. Perlini seems to have lost the successful style of play from his draft year, when he used to combine his physicality and speed to make himself a dangerous offensive weapon. Although he is a responsible two-way winger who can be trusted defensively as well, the Coyotes had hoped that he would become one of the top scorers in the OHL this season, instead of taking a minor regression.

2015 NHL Draft

  • 1st round, 3rd overall: Dylan Strome (C), 44-30-58-88 in Erie
  • 1st round, 30th overall: Nick Merkley (RW), 43-17-31-48 in Kelowna
  • 2nd round, 32nd overall: Christian Fischer (RW), 55-29-43-72 in Windsor
  • 3rd round, 63rd overall: Kyle Capobianco (D), 57-7-28-35 in Sudbury
  • 3rd round 73rd overall: Adin Hill (G), 29-22-2, 2.86 GAA, .920 SV% in Portland
  • 5th round, 123rd overall: Conor Garland (RW), 52-32-79-111 in Moncton

The 2015 NHL Draft may have been an even more impressive one for the Coyotes, with loads of CHL talent now representing Arizona, starting with the third overall pick, where the ‘Yotes selected Dylan Strome from the Erie Otters. After leading the OHL in points in 2014-15 with 129, he has improved his points per game yet again in ’15-16, scoring 88 points in just 44 games thus far, ranking fourth in the league. Strome is the Coyotes top prospect, and has the Erie Otters on pace for yet another lengthy postseason run. One aspect of his game that Strome is so well-known for is his intelligence and awareness on the ice, demonstrated in this TSN feature, “The Chess Master”.

YouTube player

Their next first round pick was 30th overall, with which they selected Nick Merkley. After a spectacular draft eligible season which saw Merkley dish out 70 assists in 72 games, his offensive numbers have seen bit of a dip in 2015-16. In 43 games, Merkley had scored 17 goals and 48 points. However, on Feb. 5th, Merkley suffered a torn ACL in a collision and as a result, will miss the reminder of the WHL regular season and playoffs.

Just two picks later, the Coyotes selected Christian Fischer out of the U.S. National Development Team. Fischer made to move to the OHL for 2015-16, where the Windsor Spitfires held his rights. In his rookie season, Fischer leads the Spitfires in goals and points, with 29 and 72, respectively. His 72 points are tied for 11th in the OHL, alongside fellow Rangers prospect, Ryan MacInnis. Fischer is as complete as a forward will come, playing a responsible and well-rounded game in each zone. At 6’1, 212 pounds, he is never afraid to engage physically either.

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The other notable CHL prospect from the 2015 draft is fifth rounder, Conor Garland. Despite going undrafted in 2014, Garland came back new and improved for the 2014-15 season. He would score 35 goals and 129 points to lead the QMJHL, on his way to being drafted. Now in 2015-16, Garland is continuing to demolish the ‘Q’. Through 52 games, Garland has already scored 32 goals and 111 points, opening a 23-point gap between he and the closest competitor. Despite his 5’8 frame, Garland has all the skills and intelligence to become a full-time NHL player in the near future. His coach had this to say about him.

Conor is one of the most exciting players I have ever seen. His dedication to being a complete 200-foot player has been a huge part of his success. His commitment to conditioning has led to a great consistency. The sky is the limit for Conor’s future in hockey.

Summary

Not only is the leading scorer in the QMJHL represented by the Arizona Coyotes for the second consecutive year, but the OHL is absolutely dominated by ‘Yotes prospects. They hold the rights for four of the top 12 scorers in the ‘O’, in Dvorak (2nd), Strome (4th), MacInnis (11th), and Fischer (12th). Not to mention a few defencemen and a goaltender who are also quietly putting up impressive campaigns in the CHL, as well.

In all, Arizona holds 10 prospects in the CHL, all of which are making significant contributions to their team’s success. With so much raw talent and potential arising at the same time, the future is extremely bright in the desert, and the rest of the NHL needs to be on lookout, because they’re developing quickly.