The Arizona Coyotes have found an amazing player in forward Conor Garland. For a fifth-round, 123rd overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Garland is paying big dividends. Finding skill like his in such a depth pick is the key to success and the Coyotes are seeing that now.
Conor Garland Coming up Huge
The diminutive Garland who stands 5’10”, 165 pounds is currently leading the Coyotes in goals with seven and is tied for second on the team in scoring. Last season was his first in the NHL. After playing well in the AHL for the Tucson Roadrunners, he was promoted to the parent team and hasn’t looked back yet. He accumulated some impressive statistics with 13 goals, 5 assists in 47 games. Not mind-blowing but for a first-year player who was taken in a late-round, any team would love that.
However, what is even more impressive is his possession numbers since joining the Coyotes. His Corsi For percent is at 53.5 and his relative Corsi for is 5.1. For a guy his size, he is not afraid to block shots or give out hits. He’s had 22 blocks and 37 hits in the 60 games he’s appeared in for the team. He also is around the puck and pursues it with 32 takeaways as opposed to just 14 giveaways.
Conor Garland is a Clutch Player
To watch this 23-year-old young man play is quite entertaining. He makes things happen and while he has played pretty much fourth-line minutes, the coaching staff is beginning to notice his level of play deserves better. He has played on the second line and has assisted on two of three Carl Soderberg goals. It really doesn’t matter where you line him up, he seems to fit right in with his aggressive offensive play which results in scoring chances.
In a recent game against the upstart Buffalo Sabres he cut the lead in half with a clutch goal with 3:28 remaining in the game. While the Coyotes comeback failed, Garland’s never give up attitude was something to witness. It fuels other player’s to play the same way. His style of play and fortitude coincide well with the way the team plays. Last season they were playing shorthanded much of the season. They were riddled with injuries and yet missed the playoffs by just four points. Performances by players who weren’t expected, much like Garland, was a big reason for this. Staying that close despite missing so many players was an impressive feat, to say the least.
What the Future Holds
The way Conor Garland has performed thus far in his short NHL career leaves plenty of room for his play to accelerate even further. He is gaining confidence with the coaching staff and in turn will gain even more ice time. He is now averaging 12:47 of ice time and that is comparable to last season when he had 12:45.
Garland doesn’t shy away from being where the action is in front of the net. He was doing just that last season on January 12th when a shot from the blueline hit him in the face. He actually was credited with a goal as the puck deflected into the net. It may have been his most painful goal yet. He still had a smile on his bloodied face as he went off the ice for repairs.
Much like most hockey players he got stitched up and was right back out on the ice. That goal was a power-play goal and he added another in the third period which was the winning goal. You might say Garland took control of the game and used any method available to him to help his team prevail, or the definition of a clutch player.
Players like Garland don’t come around very often. The Coyotes are fortunate to have a player like him on their roster.