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Future Watch – Arizona Coyotes: Chayk and Bake

The Coyotes GM has his fingerprints all over a prospect system that has players at varying degrees of readiness.
James Egan's Sports Photography

James Egan's Sports Photography

B+ / 12th overall

The Coyotes possess an interesting mix of long-term prospect projects as well as several players who are on the verge of making the jump to the NHL. Although Arizona has a mixed draft history, it should be noted that the Coyotes’ top 10 prospects were selected by the club in the past four drafts, all of which president of hockey operations and GM John Chayka was involved in (Chayka was the team’s assistant GM in 2015 before being promoted to his current position in 2016). Over that time, Chayka and his staff have methodically reloaded the system with a penchant for players with puck skills.

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1. Barrett Hayton (9th overall)
C, 18, 6-1, 192 – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
37–22–38–60–40
2018 draft, 5th overall
The Coyotes surprised many when they took Hayton fifth overall, but the selection is trending well. Hayton stepped into a leadership role with the Greyhounds and has maintained a lofty scoring pace. He’s a versatile center capable of putting up points while also playing a 200-foot game. Said Chayka: “He’s the captain, he’s playing in all situations and has responded accordingly, and he’s averaging a goal per game. Our trajectory (for him) is high and he’s along that path.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2020-21

2. Kyle Capobianco (81st overall)
D, 21, 6-1, 196 – Tucson (AHL)
40–7–25–32–51
2015 draft, 63rd overall
Capobianco is the Coyotes’ most improved prospect in the past year. Coyotes assistant GM Steve Sullivan, who oversees the AHL affiliate in Tucson, has raved about the defenseman’s progress. Capobianco made his NHL debut with a one-game stint last season and was recalled this season due to a glut of injuries on the blueline. The Coyotes view Capobianco as a potential top-four defender with excellent skating and puck-moving abilities. A recent leg injury ended his season.
FW18| No. 5 - NHL | 2019-20

3. Pierre-Olivier Joseph (88th overall)
D, 19, 6-2, 168 – Drummondville (QMJHL)
29–2–17–19–22
2017 draft, 23rd overall
It’s taking time for Joseph to morph into the top-four D-man the Coyotes envision. The challenge surrounding Joseph is adding weight to his slender frame. He’ll benefit from a jump to the AHL next year. “He was a later first-round guy, and with that is a decision,” Chayka said. “Do you take a guy who’s more developed with a lower ceiling, or do you take a player with a longer timeline, but that timeline is a top-four defenseman?” Joseph is a skillful and cerebral puck-moving defender.
FW18| No. 3 - NHL | 2020-21

4. Nick Merkley
RW, 21, 5-10, 194 – Tucson (AHL)
29–4–15–19–14
2015 draft, 30th overall
Merkley, if not for a run of injuries to start his pro career, possesses more than enough tools to already be a fixture in Arizona. He was part of the star-studded 2015 draft that featured countless NHL mainstays, but Merkley has yet to break through. Most of this is due to two torn ACLs, a broken collarbone and an AC joint sprain. Merkley returned to action with the Roadrunners in December and has been producing in a top-line role. He’s a playmaker and tenacious forward who’s hard to knock off the puck.
FW18| No. 2 - NHL | 2019-20

5. Adin Hill
G, 22, 6-6, 203 – Tucson (AHL)
8–9–1, 2.49, .911
2015 draft, 76th overall
After Antti Raanta went down with a knee injury in November, Hill got an extended NHL stint and made the most of it. Especially when Darcy Kuemper, the regular backup, also went down with injury, Hill stepped up and helped the Coyotes tread water in the Western Conference. All this was not lost on hockey operations, as the Coyotes view Hill as a goalie of the future. More development in the AHL will only help. Hill relies on size and athleticism to stop pucks. He’s working on improving his positional and technical game.
FW18| No. 6 - NHL | 2020-21

6. Filip Westerlund
D, 19, 5-11, 181 – Frolunda (Swe.)
19–1–1–2–6
2017 draft, 44th overall
Calm, puck-moving ‘D’ is a smooth passer. Slowly developing in Sweden’s top league.

7. Nate Schnarr
C, 19, 6-1, 190 – Guelph (OHL)
59–31–65–96–52
2017 draft, 75th overall
Big-bodied center has booming shot. Dangerous threat on power play.

8. Kevin Bahl
D, 18, 6-6, 234 – Ottawa (OHL)
62–4–27–31–83
2018 draft, 55th overall
Huge, mobile shutdown defender with evolving offensive skills. Keeps things simple.

9. Cam Dineen
D, 20, 5-11, 183 – Tucson (AHL)
41–3–4–7–2
2016 draft, 68th overall
Small, puck-moving blueliner is struggling to produce as a first-year pro.

10. Tyler Steenbergen
RW, 21, 5-10, 187 – Tucson (AHL)
48–8–11–19–14
2017 draft, 128th overall
Ex-WHL scoring star has a quick first step. Modest production so far as AHL rookie.

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