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Coyotes stun NHL Draft with Clayton Keller pick

BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's fair to say Clayton Keller going seventh overall to the Arizona Coyotes was a bit of a surprise.

Even the player himself was taken a little by surprise.
"A little bit, yeah," Keller, who played for the US National Development team last season, said shortly after the pick. "I had a meeting with them during the combine, and we had a good talk. Just getting to know each other and building a good relationship. But yeah I was a little shocked and just thankful to be picked."
Keller posted 158 points in 96 games across all competitions for the US U-18 team, including 4-10-14 in seven games at the U-18 World Championships. From McKeen's:

“Any doubts about Keller's ability to compete against top competition were quashed at the U-18's with his two-points-per-game pace and solid all-around play.

"Keller led the tournament in assists, and many were of the highlight variety.

“Keller also exhibited an ability to effectively kill penalties due to his elite anticipation and overall hockey sense.  When combined with his speed and agility, concerns about him being able to handle a top-two center role were appreciably diminished."

Clearly, the Coyotes had little concern about the only serious knock on Keller: his size. He's listed at 5-foot-10 and about 180 pounds, and obviously that's something that needs to be addressed. Keller knows it, and in comparing his game to Patrick Kane's, pointed out that smaller guys still have a lot of room for success in the league.
"I think that's probably the biggest thing for me is just getting stronger and putting on a couple pounds," he said. "And I think that's what can make me a dominant player in the NHL someday."
Certainly, scouts generally agree his playmaking and hockey sense — he gets used in all situations — are both at a high enough level it might not matter.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.



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