Long time Arizona Coyote Keith Yandle was victim to the NHL trade deadline last year and was shipped off to help solidify the New York Rangers back end as they look poised for a run to the Stanley Cup. What Arizona got back was impressive. Very impressive: a conditional 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick in 2015, defensemen John Moore, and Anthony Duclair. The then 19-year-old Duclair is a dynamic, high skill type of player. He suited up for 18 games with the Rangers before being loaned to Canada to compete in the World Junior Hockey Tournament. In those 18 games with the Rangers he tallied a goal and six assists. When Duclair arrived at the World Juniors he was installed on a line with one of the Arizona Coyotes top prospects, Max Domi. After the tournament Duclair was sent down to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he played for the Quebec Remparts to finish off the season.
Fast forward to this year. Domi, the son of former Toronto Maple Leaf Tie Domi, came into Arizona training camp with a chip on his shoulder. He thought he should have made the team last year and wasn't taking no for an answer this time around. He and fellow World Junior linemate, Duclair, impressed the coaching staff and forced their way on the team. So far it looks like it was the right choice. The two of them play on the same line and have converted for 17 points in 9 games. Max Domi co-leads the NHL's Calder Trophy race with rookie phenom Connor McDavid with 10 points, and Duclair is not far behind with seven.
The production of these rookies has helped carry the Arizona Coyotes to a start, not many people would have guessed. They currently are leading the Pacific Division with a record of 5-3-1 (11 points). They're sitting ahead of teams like the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks and tied with juggernauts St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets. The probability of this streak lasting all year is very small, considering the roster make up but it would be nice to see a team who has struggled to hold a fan base gain some momentum with their two-headed monster and new faces of the franchise Domi and Duclair. Combining those two, Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the blue-line and a rebounding Mike Smith in net this year could be good for building a more stable future in the desert.
The Coyotes haven't enjoyed much success other than the one deep playoff run in the past few years, but they look to be on a good path and with their prospects only going to get better success should come. Shane Doan will be a good role model, with his career coming to an end reasonably soon. He can help guide these two youngsters to dominance in the NHL.