Is Clayton Keller the most underrated player in the NHL?

Ever since Clayton Keller scored his first career goal on an autumn night in 2017 against the Anaheim Ducks, he has been on a trajectory for hockey superstardom. Keller finished his rookie season with 23 goals and 65 points. He has had some struggles since then as the Coyotes entered a rebuild and have torn down everything around him.

Last season Keller had a career high 28 goals and a career best +3 +/- rating. NHL superstars like Cale Makar and Nazem Kadri finished last season with 28 goals. All of those players are household names in hockey. The Coyotes struggles in recent years have helped make Keller one of the NHL’s best kept secrets.

Keller currently has 3 goals & 10 points through the Coyotes first 10 games of the 2022-23 season. He is on pace to finish the year with a career best 82 points and that would make him a point per game player. Only 26 players in the league finished with more than 82 points last season.

Can Keller up his current point producing pace once Nick Schmaltz returns from injury? Schmaltz himself was nearly a point per game player last season, so the answer should be a resounding yes!

Keller’s 11 points helped lead the United States to a gold medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The NHL media typically likes to focus their attention on the northern hockey markets and the Coyotes rebuilding status certainly doesn’t add eyeballs to Keller’s performances. Keller had a better season last year than NHL stars like Brayden Point (58 points), Taylor Hall (61 points), and Mathew Barzal (59 points).

Keller is not only a great goal scorer but he’s also proven to be an excellent playmaker early in his pro career despite sometimes having non-elite line mates surrounding him. At only 24 years of age the hockey world may be about to be caught off guard by Keller and his playmaking abilities. Does Keller deserve to be in the conversation with elite playmakers like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby?

Perhaps not at this time but as the Coyotes young players develop alongside Keller, we should see Keller’s numbers rise as well. Keller may soon become a household name.

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