Could The Calder Trophy Already Belong To Clayton Keller?

Who’s going to win this year’s Calder Trophy? With no Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews in the 2017 Draft, or any generational talents on the horizon, the door is wide open for someone to take the title of the top rookie in the NHL. It’s a good bet that Clayton Keller will be a favorite for the award come April.

Clayton Keller is one of the league’s most dynamic prospects. Part of a loaded Arizona prospect pool, he might be the most talented and gifted player on the team. This is a roster that has young talent such as Max Domi and Dylan Strome. If all goes according to plan, Keller could be a fixture in the lineup by the end of October, which sets him up well for a big Calder run.

The 7th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Keller is heralded as the league’s top prospect. After two years in the USHL, he played for Boston University, scoring 45 points. Immediately after the team’s exit from the NCAA Tournament, Keller signed an entry-level deal with the Coyotes.

Nobody knows how Keller will perform this season. The Coyotes are a team that always seems to be re-building their roster. Keller is one of the players Arizona is banking on to lead them into the playoffs. He’s only 19 years of age, making him one of the team’s youngest players. Although, according to some he’s a step ahead of the others for his age.

Coyotes coach, Rick Tocchet, told Sarah McLellan of AZ Central the following about Keller during a recent interview for an article on AZ Central.

“I’ve really been impressed with him so far. He’s a respectful kid, but he’s got swagger. I like that about him. He’s around the puck. He’s not scared. He wants to be out there. He’s looking back at me like, ‘I want to be out there, Coach.”

There aren’t many first-year NHL’ers that are guaranteed Calder finalists. This year the competition is wide open. If Keller can score 50+ points he’s probably guaranteed at least a top-three finish. He’ll be challenged by players such as Alex DeBrincat, Charlie McAvoy, and Nolan Patrick, but Keller is said to be far superior to those names by some.

Let’s see how the Coyotes do for the upcoming season. Keller might be the piece Arizona needs to clinch a playoff berth. With all of the talent the Coyotes have stocked up, it would make sense for someone to take the bull by the horns and evolve into a superstar. Keller might be that player, and it all starts with a Calder-like rookie year.

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