The Arizona Coyotes are pretty depleted when it comes to draft picks due to their league combine training violations. However, they still have some young prospects who could help them going forward. The Arizona Coyotes prospects who have made a recent debut include Michael Bunting, Victor Soderstrom, and Jen Jenik (YAN yehn-EEK). Both Soderstrom and Jenik were called up from the team’s AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners to participate in the last two games against the San Jose Sharks for the close of the 2020-21 season. The Coyotes did not qualify for the playoffs after losing to the Los Angeles Kings on May 5th. It was their 11th loss in their last 15 games. Not the best way to end the season, especially if you want to get into the playoffs.
Arizona Coyotes Prospects Can Help Them Going Forward
The key to any NHL team’s success has to be from its origins… the NHL Draft. Unfortunately, the Desert Dogs are without a first-round selection due to their actions and traded away their third-round choice in the Taylor Hall useless trade. In that fiasco of a deal, the Arizona club traded away not one, but three prospects to get Hall. Subsequently, Hall really didn’t help them much at all. They lost Nicholas Merkley, Nathan Schnarr, and Kevin Bahl to the New Jersey Devils. While none of the three traded prospects has tore up the league, it is not a good idea to lose prospects. And, as it turned out it really handcuffed new general manager Bill Armstrong in his goal to improve the team.
The two newest prospects Soderstrom and Jenik both scored their first goals in the NHL in the game Friday night in San Jose. Soderstrom has now played three games and Jenik got his inaugural game completed with a goal (even if it was an empty-netter). Soderstrom even got to team up with his fellow countryman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, which had to be a thrill for the 20-year-old defenceman hailing from Gavle, Sweden. He is a right-hand shot, and a very mobile blueliner.
Perhaps he could become the team’s future first-line defenceman with now star stud D-man Jakob Chychrun. While Chychrun is the ripe old age of 23, he will be entering his fifth season in the 2021-22 campaign. With 18 goals and 22 assists in 55 games, his potential is sky high. It is hoped that Soderstrom will not be far behind him if he reaches his potential. He seems ready to give it a go next season depending on what the newly constructed blue line looks like then.
Jen Jenik is an Exciting Forward
If the Coyotes can fulfill some of their obvious needs at the forward position with Jenik progressing, they will be that much better off. The roster will look very different next season as the team not only moves to the tougher Central Division, but will need to gel with many new players. With 13 free agents having their contracts ended, some will stay, and more will go either via trade or off to free agency. Let’s just say Armstrong will be one busy GM come the off-season. If he has a plan, as he indicated when he was hired last September, he needs to implement it. This team has many needs and if consistency was a free agent, Armstrong would get him signed! It goes without saying that he will want to make his mark and make it his team. From the coaching staff down to the roster.
Jenik received accolades from Armstrong: “I think he gives the organization a big, strong power forward who is extremely competitive,” Armstrong said. “He plays with that grit on the inside, and that’s something that we need. We want to see tonight how he translates his game to the NHL game.” Head coach Rick Tocchet also added his evaluation of Jenik: “He’ll do anything to make the NHL,” Tocchet said. “He’s an abrasive kid. Playing him tonight and getting him reps is really important. He’s obviously got to get bigger and stronger, like all kids. He has the will and has the character. He has the attributes that, to me, you need right off the bat if you want to make the NHL. Jenik has those. Now he’s got to work on his game.”
Victor Soderstrom Brings Much Needed Help on the Blueline
With the Coyotes only having three of seven regulars on defence under contract, the infusion of help from Soderstrom would be a blessing to the team. Rick Tocchet also had some remarks about Soderstrom to share. “He walks that blue line really well,” Tocchet said. “That’s something that we desperately need, and he has that attribute. He has good patience with the puck. He changed his lane and got it through. Those are big plays.”
Here he danced around the Sharks defence (not a difficult task this season) to score his first NHL goal Friday night. What was even more special personally for him was the assist by OEL.
Michael Bunting is Doing Especially Well in the NHL
For a player like Bunting, who has paid his dues in the AHL for three seasons, his success is especially appealing. He has 10 goals, including a hat trick and three assists in 20 games. He could also be an ingredient to help the team going forward. Of those 10 goals, he’s collected three on the power play. His style of play must really please Armstrong with his crash the net mentality. It has been missing for the most part in the Coyotes’ offensive scheme. With both Jenik and Bunting making it more difficult to defend against, the Arizona team has some assets they can treasure for years to come.
The Arizona Coyotes Prospects Hold the Team’s Future in Their Hands
Any team who can develop their prospects has all the more chances to hoist the Cup. Now that the Coyotes have some potentially talented prospects to hang their future on, the goal is to use them and see what they can do. They don’t want to rush them. The aforementioned players can really contribute and their development must be handled skillfully. If that happens, there’s not telling how far this team can go. It may take baby steps, but it can happen. We’ll see how the Arizona Coyotes prospects progress, but the future looks bright.