Lawson Crouse doesn’t want to go back to junior. Now a member of the Arizona Coyotes, the 11th overall draft pick in 2015 believes he’s ready for the NHL.
“I’m mentally and physically ready,” the 19-year-old left winger said, per the Arizona Republic. “Last year I got sent back and had to develop a little bit more. But I think that I’m ready now, and I’m ready to make the next step.”
Crouse, acquired last month from Florida for the price of taking on Dave Bolland‘s contract, had 23 goals and 39 assists (62 points) in 49 games for Kingston in 2015-16. When he was drafted by the Panthers, there were lingering questions about his offensive production, following a 51-point season for the Frontenacs.
“I don’t think my points were horrible, but I know they can improve, and I know there is a long ways to go,” he said at the time. “I do a lot of other things well. That’s the part of my game that stands out for me.”
Indeed, if Crouse is going to make the Coyotes, it need not be in a top-six scoring role. Though still a teenager, he has the size and strength to play on the third or fourth lines. And with all the other young, high-end forward talent (Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome) in the Coyotes organization, it’s likely a bottom-six role or back to Kingston for another year.