Coyotes ready for prized prospect Keller to go pro

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Clayton Keller’s had a pretty terrific year, and it might get even better.

Keller, taken seventh overall by Arizona at last year’s draft, is in the midst of a banner freshman campaign at Boston University. He’s racked up 40 points through 28 games, this after pacing the U.S. to gold at the World Juniors. Keller finished third in the tourney in scoring, and was named to the All-Star team.

The 18-year-old recently topped TSN’s list of the best prospects yet to join their NHL teams, and now Coyotes GM John Chayka sounds like he’s prepared to change that.

From USA Today:

The Coyotes hope to sign prize prospect Clayton Keller as soon as his season at Boston University is over, Chayka told USA TODAY Sports.

“I think (Keller’s) ready to take that next step for sure,” Chayka told USA TODAY Sports. “He’s been a dominant player at that level and the world junior championships. We think he’s a special player who can make an impact on a team.”

Keller, developed in the St. Louis area, is a 5-10 forward who has been compared to Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane.

The real intrigue here will be if Arizona gets Keller into an NHL game this season.

Chayka said the club’s amateur scouting director told him Keller “could have played in the American League this year and we could have called him up and down,” which is interesting. The Coyotes have given seven different prospects their big-league debuts this season, including 18-year-old Jakob Chychrun — the defenseman taken nine spots after Keller at last summer’s draft.

Of course, Keller is still deeply entrenched at BU.

The Terriers advanced to the Hockey East semifinals this weekend by sweeping Northeastern. Currently ranked eighth in the country, BU is a contender to advance to the Frozen Four, which will be played from April 6-8 at the United Center.

Should BU go all the way, it won’t leave much opportunity for Keller with the Coyotes. Their final game of the year is on Apr. 8 against the Wild, but their AHL affiliate in Tucson plays right through ’til Apr. 15.