The Coyotes have a poor record with several first-round picks that failed to develop or are no longer with the organization. Dylan Strome, Nick Merkley, Brendan Perlini, Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson, Connor Murphy, Mikkel Boedker, Viktor Tikhonov, and Nick Ross were all first-round picks that left the organization down one way or another.
A recent sanction placed on the team for violating the leagues’ interview protocol for draft-eligible players cost them a first- and second-round pick. Despite that, the team acquired another first-round selection in the 2021 draft and will be lottery favorites for the 2022 draft.
Make no mistake about it, the Coyotes are in a tank race for Shane Wright and will need to do a better job of developing the players in the system.
2021-22 Top 10 Arizona Coyotes prospects
- Dylan Guenther, LW/RW – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Drafted: 2021 round 1, ninth overall by Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes acquired the ninth overall selection in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland trade with Vancouver and selected Guenther. The Edmonton native instantly becomes the team’s top prospect based on his offensive upside. He’ll need a few years of development before he makes it as a top-six winger.
After pacing at a point-pre game rate as a rookie in the WHL, he lit up the dub in his draft year posting 12 goals in 12 games and 24 points. It was a short season and a small sample size, but he made an impression. Guenther followed that up with a good showing with Canada at the U-18 as an Alternate Captain with seven points in seven games helping Canada stroll into a Gold Medal. Guenther should make his presence felt most on the PP with his lethal shot.
2. Victor Soderstrom, D – Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
Drafted: 2019 round 1, 11th overall by Arizona Coyotes
After developing for two seasons in the SHL with Brynas, Soderstrom started the 2020-21 season on loan in the Allsvenskan waiting for the North American leagues to get the all-clear. Once he crossed the Atlantic, he debuted in two NHL games before getting more playing time in the AHL. All-in-all it was a good rookie season posting two points in four NHL games and 10 points in 32 AHL games.
His offensive upside is good, but not great, so it may limit him to a mid-pairing defenseman. Soderstrom has a very high hockey IQ and is an excellent skater. He has shades of Nick Lidstrom in his game at times and is the heir apparent to the recently departed Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes will give the 20-year-old plenty of opportunity to break the roster this season, and all signs point to him doing just that.
- Barrett Hayton, C – Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
Drafted: 2018 round one, fifth overall by Arizona Coyotes
Arizona has badly mismanaged Hayton in his pro career. Often a healthy scratch, he played in only 20 NHL games in his rookie season with four points to show for it. He was loaned out to Canada for a Gold Medal WJC tournament and he was outstanding posting 12 points in seven games.
His sophomore season was more of the same and limited due to COVID. Hayton started in Liiga before North America resumed but played more in the AHL than the NHL. What he needs is quality minutes and if Arizona will be going through pain for Shane Wright all year, his best option may be in Tucson for a full year.
- Conor Timmins, D – Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Drafted: 2017 round two, 32nd overall by Colorado Avalanche
The Coyotes signaled their intentions to go all-in on Shane Wright when they traded starting goalie Darcy Kumper to Colorado for a 2022 first-round pick, and Conor Timmins. Timmins was once considered to be a premium prospect but lost a season and a half to injuries.
When he returned, he made a strong debut in the AHL with 27 points in 40 games. Last year his production in the AHL dipped, but he got more NHL games in with 31 regular season and ten post-season appearances.
The Avalanche are stacked on defense so the move will help Timmins to more important minutes in the NHL and should compete for a top-pairing defender along with Jakob Chychrun and Victor Soderstrom.
- Jan Jenik, C/W
Drafted: 2018 round three, 65th overall by Arizona Coyotes
After breaking out offensively in his final OHL season in Hamilton that was cut short by injury, his rookie pro season had ups and downs. It was another season cut short, this time due to the pandemic. He started in the Mestis and wore off the injury rust before coming back to North America. He started hot in the AHL with five points in four games and then went cold for a stretch. Jenik posted 14 points in 29 games in Tucson with 50 penalty minutes.
His offense may not have been consistent, but his physical play sure was. Jenik finished the regular season in the NHL, scoring two goals in two games before playing three more playoff games with Tucson. He should see one more year in the AHL looking to find consistency in his offense while he waits for all the current roster players’ contracts to expire and open up a regular roster spot for him.
- Matias Maccelli, LW – Ilves (Liiga)
Drafted: 2019 round four, 98th overall by Arizona Coyotes
Maccelli fell in his draft to the fourth round due to some size and skating concerns. His skating issues have been resolved but he is still slight in stature and could be stronger and more aggressive. His skill level has shown a nice progression and it is time for the Coyotes to develop him in the AHL.
Maccelli has some experience in North America having played two seasons in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. His two years of pro experience in the Liiga makes the AHL the next logical step. Like Jenik, once the NHL roster clears out after nine of the roster players become unrestricted free agents, Maccelli should have a fighting chance for a regular top-six roster spot on the Coyotes NHL roster.
- Ivan Prosvetov, G – Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round four, 114th overall by Arizona Coyotes
The Russian goalie has spent the past five years working his way to the NHL in North America in the NAHL, USHL, OHL, ECHL and AHL before making his NHL debut last year. Prosvetov was limited to only 18 AHL games last year as he was recalled to the NHL where he spent a lot of quality development time on the taxi squad or as the backup.
The three NHL games he did see were two in relief with only one start, and the results were a 4.15 GAA and .824 SV%. This may end up becoming another example of Arizona prospect mismanagement, but the upside remains. Carter Hutton and Joseph Korenar will be their NHL goalies this season, and Prosvetov should stay as the starter in the AHL barring an injury to the aforementioned.
- Kyle Capobianco, D Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Drafted: 2015 round three, 63rd overall by Arizona Coyotes
Capobianco is the exception to the rule where Arizona has slowly developed him with quality minutes in the AHL. While not a high draft choice, Capobianco has been producing consistently in the AHL with 112 points in 155 games over five seasons.
His limited time in the NHL has been far less productive with one loan goal and point in 14 games. His defensive game is holding him back at the NHL level, but in the AHL it is far less of a hindrance. The time is now for the 24-year-old to break into the NHL and secure an open roster spot.
- John Farinacci, C – Harvard Crimson (NCAA)
Drafted: 2019 round three, 76th overall by Arizona Coyotes
Ivy League players found themselves without a team to play for last season, including Farinacci as Harvard was shut down for the pandemic. As such he may be ranked lower here than he would otherwise have been ranked. Acknowledging that his performance with USA at the WJC was impressive enough to hold down a top ten ranking here.
His freshman season with the Crimson was a good one, he lit the lamp for ten goals and 22 points in 31 games and will be back for a second tour in the NCAA. Look for a breakout from the highly skilled forward who has an NHL quality shot and vision. He could work himself into a top-five ranked prospect on this list next year.
- Liam Kirk, LW – Sheffield Steelers (EIHL)
Drafted: 2018 round seven, 189th overall by Arizona Coyotes
Born in Great Britain, Kirk popped up on most people’s radar after the Peterborough Petes selected him in the OHL Import Draft. In 110 games with the Petes, Kirk recorded 97 points.
What got the Coyotes motivated enough to sign him to his ELC recently, was his performance with Great Britain at the WC where he had seven goals and nine points, tying Andrew Mangiapane for the tournament lead in goals. Kirk may need a year or two of further development in the AHL, but he is a prospect on the rise and is looking like a dynamite draft pick from the seventh round for Arizona.