Coyotes’ Youth Providing Glimpses of Future

Jack McBain, Josh Doan, Matias Maccelli, and Travis Dermott celebrate after a goal against the Nashville Predators
Arizona Coyotes center Jack McBain (22) celebrates with right wing Josh Doan (91), left wing Matias Maccelli (63) and defenseman Travis Dermott (33) after scoring a goal in the first period against the Nashville Predators at Mullett Arena in Tempe on March 28, 2024. Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

Playoff hopes may be out of the window for the Arizona Coyotes, but excitement still permeates through the air down in the Valley. Forward Clayton Keller continues to showcase why he’s a future captain and the star of this team despite a production drop stat-wise. Nick Bjugstad, who returned to the desert this offseason, is on pace for the best season of his career. Forwards Matias Maccelli and Nick Schmaltz are both projected to set new highs in points. Finally, goaltender Connor Ingram has made his claim as a starting goalie in the NHL, leading the league with six shutouts this season.

Defenseman Travis Dermott celebrates with Logan Cooley after a shorthanded goal against the Detroit Red Wings
Coyotes center Logan Cooley, right, is greeted by defenseman Travis Dermott (33) after scoring on Red Wings. March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Veteran presence aside, no player(s) perhaps have received more hype over the past few months than the trio of Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther, and Josh Doan. With a future filled with bright talent such as Conor Geekie, Maveric Lamoureux, Aku Räty, Daniil But, Dmitri Simashev, etc. all just waiting on the horizon, fans are getting their first taste of the what the future has in store in their current trio.

Getting A Feel of the Future

Excitement. A word that penetrates the skull and raises emotions. That’s what Coyotes’ fans experienced on July 27, 2023, when highly touted prospect Cooley signed his entry-level contract after originally committing to go back to the University of Minnesota for his sophomore season. Then came September 23, 2023. That night Cooley cemented himself as an NHL-er scoring one of the most replayed, highlight reel goals of the season in the team’s preseason opener against the Los Angeles Kings as part of the NHL’s Global Series in Melbourne, Australia. The excitement dwindled in and out from that point as Cooley struggled to find his footing at times.

January 11, the excitement came back. This time in the form of Guenther, who spent 33 games with the Coyotes a season prior before heading back to juniors. After impressing with the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners, Guenther got his big break, and did he ever deliver. That January night in Calgary, Alberta, the beginning of the next Coyotes’ dynamic duo was formed and has since then only grown and created a slew of highlight reel moments.

Dylan Guenther watches the play in the neutral zone against the Winnipeg Jets
The Arizona Coyotes assigned forward Dylan Guenther to the already-loaded Seattle Thunderbirds. COURTESY PHOTO, Arizona Coyotes

Perhaps the biggest debut of the three came in the form of a very familiar name. One that not only holds the franchise record for games, goals, assists, points, etc., but is the face of the franchise. Someone that current players, such as Auston Matthews, grew up watching and idolizing. Yes, that’s right, Doan, but not Shane, instead his son. Josh is no stranger to the Valley. He was born in Arizona, grew up in Arizona, played hockey for the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes, Arizona State University, the Tucson Roadrunners, and now the Coyotes.

If you ask him, he was the biggest Coyotes fan. He was upset when they would lose, and he was happy when they would win. He went through the rumors and arena drama along with the fanbase. He followed along with training camp, hoping to one day be a part of it. Well, that day came true when the Coyotes selected him 37th overall in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft. From then on, he put in the hard work to improve his skating and his overall game. He shined with the Sun Devils, serving as captain his sophomore year.

Josh Doan celebrates after scoring his first career NHL goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets
Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

He went on to light it up in Tucson this season, recording 46 points in 62 games prior to his call-up. Then came the night when excitement sparked again. For the first time since the 2016-17 season there would be a Doan on the Coyotes again. If that wasn’t enough for fans, what would come would blow the roof off (metaphorically) of Mullett Arena. In his first career NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he scored not just one but his first two career goals, sending the fanbase and, most importantly, his family into a craze.

In just three games, he’s recorded five points this season. While the plan is to send him back at season’s end to help lead the Roadrunners to a potential Calder Cup, there’s no denying that he’s made an impact, dispelling any claims he made it here based solely on his last name. His future is bright, and there is no doubt he will be a regular on the Coyotes lineup next season.

The Horizon Is Bright

This has been stated before, and it’ll be stated again. The future of the Coyotes is very bright. There is a lot of talent on the horizon that will help push this team towards being a serious threat and contender in the league for years to come. Fans and media alike are getting there taste now of what that future holds in store. With talent now in Keller, Maccelli, Lawson Crouse, Sean Durzi, etc., the next wave of Coyotes are ready to make their claim and prove that not only does hockey work in Arizona, but there is a real threat brewing in the American Southwest.

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Haynes Evans

Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 19 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and fiancée, as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining Inside the Rink, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Hockey Writers, covering the Arizona Coyotes, The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.

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