As we now get closer and closer to the start of the regular season, some of the top selections of the 2021 and 2022 drafts will be sent back to their junior teams to continue developing. Making the NHL is a difficult task, and with CHL players under the age of 20, the AHL is not an option due to age restrictions. Today, the Arizona Coyotes have sent Conor Geekie back to the WHL’s Winnipeg ICE, where he will remain for the rest of the season. The team has also sent undrafted netminder Anson Thornton to the Barrie Colts.
Geekie, 18, was the 11th overall pick in this year’s draft, after his outstanding 2021-22 season that saw him score 70 points in 63 games with Winnipeg. He and Matthew Savoie, the ninth overall pick (Buffalo), drive one of the most exciting offensive teams in junior hockey, and should make the ICE a contender once again this year.
Standing 6’3″ but with a game focused more on skill than size, Geekie projects to be a long-time asset down the middle for the Coyotes. At this point in the rebuild, there is no benefit from rushing a player like him, meaning a trip back to junior was always in the cards. Still, it will be interesting to see what kind of forward momentum he can build this year after already dominating most nights as a 17-year-old.
Notably, since he only turned 18 in May, Geekie will not be eligible for the AHL in 2023-24 either, as he will still be under the 20-year-old cutoff. That means the ICE could potentially get him for two more years, should he fail to make the Coyotes again next fall. For now, he’ll likely be a candidate for the Canadian Word Junior team in December, and a top performer all year in the WHL.