Clayton Keller had a breakout season for the Arizona Coyotes in 2022-23, and the way he's improving, general manager Bill Armstrong believes he could end up being one of the best players in franchise history.
“Just being around him, [Keller] is a competitor,” Armstrong explained to NHL.com's Amalie Benjamin ahead of the NHL Global Series in Australia.
“The greatest thing that people don't know about him is that this guy lives and breathes hockey. He's on the ice all summer working on a shot. He's doing all the little things. He's one of our best players, and he might be the best Coyote ever, in the end.”
It's certainly a bold claim from GM to 25-year-old Keller. But if the young American can continue dominating on the ice like he did last year, it's certainly not impossible.
Keller scored 37 goals and 86 points in 82 games in 2022-23, a true breakout campaign that put the entire league on notice. The budding superstar scored a goal for the Coyotes in their 5-3 preseason win against the Los Angeles Kings at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
“I feel really good,” Keller said, per Benjamin. “A full summer of training and skating as opposed to last summer, not much, and a lot of uncertainty going into the season about my health and things like that. I feel great. It's the most excited I've been going into a season.”
Although the critics are already counting the Coyotes out in the Pacific Division, there is belief within the organization that Arizona can compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year.
“I think last year was the first time I saw him be comfortable, like, I am the leader,” Bryan Keller said about his son. “This last year, I think working through that adversity, matured him a lot. It made him tougher. He got into last year and I just sensed his presence on the bench, in interviews. Like he was comfortable. Without saying it, I'm the leader of this team.”
Clayton Keller is certainly the leader in Arizona, and if he can string a few more point-per-game seasons together, he may be able to start challenging Shane Doan for the title of best Coyote of all time.