December 31-in-31: Arizona Coyotes

Keith Duggan

2020-12-01

Arizona Coyotes logo courtesy of foxsports.com

 

The Coyotes are in a weird spot right now. On one hand they have several high-paid veterans on the team and are awfully close to the Salary Cap ceiling. That would be fine if they were Stanley Cup contenders except for the fact the Coyotes aren’t expected to finish very high in the standings and just making the playoffs will be a challenge. On the other hand, several of those veterans will be unrestricted free agents the next two years and with the Coyotes ownership hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks as though they are headed for a rebuild. Except for the fact management has denied that will happen but every indication is ownership doesn’t’ want them spending big money anytime soon. So, who knows what the future holds and honestly that’s probably true for almost every team with the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, though, cheaper contracts seem to be in demand for the Coyotes. We already saw that this offseason when players like Taylor Hall, Carl Soderberg and Vinny Hinostroza were replaced by the signings of Johan Larsson, Tyler Pitlick and John Hayden. Which is to say there will be excellent opportunities for Arizona’s prospect pool in the future. This is especially true on defense where Arizona has five players who will be unrestricted free agents at the end of 2020-21, giving rearguards like Kyle Capobianco and Victor Soderstrom excellent chances. Arizona’s prospect cupboard is solid right now thanks to some quality drafts and free agent signings by former GM John Chayka but will definitely take a hit with the Coyotes not picking until the fifth-round this year and no first or third-round pick for 2021 draft due to scouting combine violations and trades. 

 

Graduating players

The Coyotes didn’t see any players graduate from prospect to full-time NHLer last year. Barrett Hayton spent most of the year with the big club but only appeared in 20 games, so he keeps his rookie status.  Hayton and a few other prospects should graduate to full-timers this campaign though. 

 

Graduate to NHL

 Barrett Hayton, C: As mentioned above Hayton spent most of last season with the Coyotes, only appearing in 20 games and seeing little playing time. Arizona felt Hayton was too good for another year of juniors but due to the NHL-CHL agreement the then 19-year-old couldn’t play in the AHL. So, he experienced the NHL life, practicing and being around the Coyotes. With the team pushing for a playoff spot, it was hard for Hayton to crack a permanent spot in the lineup. 

 

 

Outside the NHL though, Hayton showed why he’s considered an excellent future player to get excited about. He had an awesome 2020 World Juniors, finishing as one of the tournaments best players and played extremely well in a brief conditioning stint in the AHL. Hayton is a very skilled player who plays a responsible 200-foot game. The Coyotes desperately need him to be that number one center that they have been lacking. While I don’t think he lights up the league, he’ll have an expanded role this year and Hayton has looked good playing in Finland so he will be ready. 

Kyle Capobianco, D: After three excellent years in the AHL, the Coyotes signed Capobianco to a one-way contract. He’s currently number eight on their defenseman depth chart so he probably won’t see a lot of playing time off the bat. Once again with five veteran contracts expiring at the end of 2020-21 season though, he will see an expanded role next year. 

Adin Hill, G: Just like Capobianco, Hill was signed to a one-way contract this offseason. He starts the campaign at number three on the depth chart but with potentially a condensed schedule and both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta’s injury history, Hill will see some playing time. Also, Raanta is an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2020-21 and Kuemper’s name has come up in trade rumors. 

Brayden Burke, LW/RW: He plays an extremely similar playing style to current Coyotes Conor Garland and after a point-per-game season in the AHL last year, Burke looks ready to push for a roster spot. 

Dryden Hunt, LW: Signed for depth, Hunt could possibly provide more for the Coyotes. He has 63 games of NHL experience with the Florida Panthers and while Hunt never showed much offensively (15 points) he’s been a reliable scorer in the AHL. Playing on a line with Brayden Point helps but Hunt absolutely lit it up in his final year of WHL action to the tune of 58 goals and 116 points. Maybe he provides more to a team that has struggled to score. 

 

On the Cusp

Matias Maccelli, LW: Arizona has stated it does not want to rush Maccelli but the Coyotes struggle to score and with Taylor Hall gone, it’s not going to get better. Maccelli is having another strong year offensively in Finland. Is he ready for an NHL top-six role? Maccelli has an open-ended loan agreement this year on his contract, so basically if he doesn’t make the Coyotes, he heads back to Finland to play for Ilves. I’m not sure we see him in a Coyotes sweater just yet.

 

 

Victor Soderstrom, D: The plan was to have him play in the AHL this season and with eight blueliners signed to one-way contracts ahead of him, it’s hard to see that changing. Although, catch some highlights of him playing in Sweden and you have to think they give the skilled Soderstrom a look this year. 

Lane Pederson, C: After two excellent years in the AHL, Pederson looks ready to earn an NHL spot. Just not sure it will be this season though. Pederson missed a good chunk of last campaign to injury, so I think he spends another year in the AHL. 

 

Graduating from Junior/College to Pro

Jan Jenik, LW/RW: Was in the midst of an awesome offensive year in the OHL until a knee injury at the World Juniors last campaign ended his season. Currently is playing in Finland and is expected to play this year in the AHL, getting adjusted to the pro game. An exciting player who brings a little of everything to the lineup will be a future multi-cat beast.  

Nathan Sucese, LW: After four consistently good years at Penn State, Sucese enters the pro ranks as an older prospect (24). Brings a key element of today’s game, speed, and could earn a bottom-six spot with the team. Most likely starts the campaign in the AHL though. 

Ryan McGregor, C: Just like Sucese, McGregor brings speed to the lineup and is a good old hardworking team guy. Originally a seventh-round pick of Toronto, after five years in the OHL, he wasn’t signed and was picked up by Arizona this offseason. Not sure he’ll bring much offense to the next level though and most definitely plays this year for Tucson in the AHL. 

 

Risers

Victor Soderstrom, D: The Coyotes surprised everyone selecting him as high as they did in the 2019 Draft. Then all Soderstrom did was go out and have an outstanding year and is arguably one of the best defense prospects not in the NHL right now. 

Brayden Burke, LW: After a so-so rookie pro campaign, Burke had a great 2019-20 season. He was one of the top players in the AHL and now looks poised to seize a roster spot with the Coyotes.

Matias Maccelli, LW: As mentioned above, the fourth-round pick from 2019 has been very good. He won SM-Liiga Rookie of the Year last season and has been lighting it up so far this campaign. If he’s still available in your dynasty league, grab him now!

Michael Callahan, D: Coming out of the USHL and after his freshman year, Callahan was a reliable defenseman but didn’t show much in the way of offense. That changed last year with him finishing as one of the top scoring defensemen in the NCAA. Some of that was a byproduct of playing with studs on the Providence College power play (Jack Dugan, Tyce Thompson) but you don’t play with players like that if you don’t have the skill in the first place. Callahan isn’t a big name and could be worth a late round flyer in dynasty drafts. 

 

Fallers

Tyler Steenbergen, LW: He hasn’t been bad at the AHL level, playing a solid bottom-six, reliable 200-foot player who kills penalties and chips in a point here and there. You just expected more from a player who put up huge point totals in the WHL (194 points his last two years of junior). He could surprise me this year, but I don’t think he’s fantasy relevant anymore.

Filip Westerlund, D: When the Coyotes talk about their prospect pool, they don’t mention Westerlund’s name anymore. The former second-round pick from 2017 has until June 1st, 2021 to sign his entry-level deal or he’s no longer Arizona property. I’m not sure the Coyotes have any plans on signing him.

Merrick Madsen, G: Entering the pro ranks after posting some outstanding stats at Harvard University, Madsen looked to be a goalie prospect to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, serious hip issues which required multiple surgeries now seemed to have ended his career.  

 

Organizational Depth Chart 

(Combination of NHL readiness and upside).

 

Left Wing

Braydon Burke

Dryden Hunt

Matias Maccelli 

Nate Sucese

Michael Bunting

Tyler Steenbergen

Alexander Daryin

Liam Kirk

Carson Bantle

Danil Savunov

Ben McCartney

Center

Barrett Hayton

Lane Pederson

Michael Chaput

Blake Speers

Ryan McGregor                

John Farinacci

Anthony Romano

Valentin Nussbaumer

Filip Barklund

Emil Pettersson

Right Wing

Jan Jenik

Hudson Fasching

Aku Raty

Erik Walli Walterholm

Elliot Ekefjard

Left Defense

Kyle Capobianco

Cam Dineen

Michael Callahan

Axel Bergkvist

Patrick Kulda

Micheal Karow

Right Defense

Victor Soderstrom

Jordan Gross

Vili Saarijarvi

Dysin Mayo

Cameron Crotty

Ty Emberson

Filip Westerlund

Goalie

Adin Hill

Ivan Prosvetov

David Tendeck

 

 Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

   This section is intended to paint a picture of the Arizona Coyote prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration; however, potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.

  1. Barrett Hayton
  2. Victor Soderstrom
  3. Matias Maccelli
  4. Jan Jenik
  5. Kyle Capabianco
  6. Ivan Prosvetov
  7. Brayden Burke
  8. Adin Hill
  9. Lane Pederson
  10. John Farinacci
  11. Jordan Gross
  12. Michael Callahan
  13. Dryden Hunt
  14. Nate Sucese
  15. Tyler Steenbergen
  16. Alexander Daryin
  17. Michael Bunting
  18. Cam Dineen
  19. Filip Westerlund
  20. Vili Saarijarvi

 

Prospects playing currently

 

A list of Coyotes prospects and where they are currently playing.                                             

 

Player, League, Team   

                            

Forwards

Barrett Hayton: Liiga, Ilves   Loan

Matias Maccelli:, Liiga, Ilves

Jan Jenik: Kettera, Mestis   Loan

Alexander Daryin: KHL/VHL/MHL, Lokomotiv Yaroslavi/Buran Voronezh/Loko Yaroslavi

John Farinacci: USHL, Muskegon

Aku Raty: Liiga, Ilves

Carson Bantle: NCAA, Michigan Tech

Anthony Romano: NCAA, Clarkson

Filip Barklund: J20 Nationell, Orebro

Elliot Ekefjard: J20 Nationell, Malmo

Liam Kirk: Ettan (Sweden), Hanhals IF

Danil Savunov: VHL, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg

Erik Walli Walterholm: Allsvenskan, Timra

Valentin Nussbaumer: NL (Swiss), Biel-Bienne

Emil Pettersson: SHL, Vaxjo Lakers HC

Defense

Victor Soderstrom: Allsvenkan, AIK   Loan

Cameron Crotty: Norway, Sparta Sarpsborg

Ty Emberson: NCAA, Wisconsin

Michael Callahan: NCAA, Providence

Micheal Karow: NCAA, Boston College

Axel Bergkvist: Allsvenskan, Karlskoga

Filip Westerlund: Allsvenskan, Timra

Vili Saarijarvi: Liiga, Lukko

 

Notes: Hayton and Maccelli playing not only on the same team but the same line is exciting and fun to see. Hopefully, they can form some solid chemistry together that lasts to when they’re in Coyote sweaters. Pettersson and Saarijarvi are both prospects who received qualifying offers from Arizona but are on that fence whether they return to North America anytime soon. Though both are having outstanding campaigns in the SHL and Liiga, respectably. Daryin has appeared in three different leagues, VHL/MHL/KHL, while putting up decent point totals in all of them. The Coyotes tried to find a team for top goalie prospect Ivan Prosvetov, but Russian teams that were interested wanted him to play the whole season with them and other goaltending slots were already filled. 

 

Upcoming 2021 World Junior Tournament:

 Hopefully the 2021 World Junior Tournament goes on as planned because it’s some of my favorite hockey