In just his second season, Swansea’s Clayton Keller is an NHL All-Star

Swansea native Clayton Keller on facing off against the Blues

Clayton Keller talks Thursday after the Arizona Coyotes’ 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.
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Clayton Keller talks Thursday after the Arizona Coyotes’ 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Clayton Keller’s pro hockey career has thus far been a series of bench marks.

In less than three years, the Arizona Coyotes drafted the Swansea native no. 7 overall and let him make his NHL debut against the hometown St. Louis Blues. He was Rookie of the Month in October of 2017 and was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy to the league’s top first-year player.

Now Keller will join the Western Conference roster at the NHL All-Star Game Jan. 26 in San Jose, California.

I’m really excited,” Keller told FOX Sports Arizona. “It’s definitely a huge opportunity and it’ll be a lot of fun to hang around the top players in the league and try to soak everything up from those guys ... This has been a dream of mine and it’s a good nod, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Keller, 20, leads Arizona with 29 points and 21 assists. He has scored eight of his 31 career goals this season, which is second to Brad Richardson on the Coyotes.

The 5-foot-10 center will be one of 10 first-time all-stars at this year’s game. Keller also is just the fifth Arizona forward, and first since 2009, to play in the All-Star Game. Others include Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick.

Keller was the first metro-east player taken in the first round of the NHL Draft. After a stand-out season at Boston University, where he had 21 goals and 45 points in just 31 games, he was named Rookie of the Year by the College Hockey News.

Keller (5-foot-10, 174 pounds) also was the top scorer for Team USA’s gold medal squad at the 2017 World Junior Championship. He had three goals and 11 points in seven games.

Under his current contract, Arizona will pay him $1.67 million for both this season and next.

BND Sports & Local News Editor Todd Eschman has won numerous state and regional awards for his columns, feature stories and news reporting. He was born and raised in Belleville, attended SIU-Carbondale, and is a member of the BBWAA, SABR and St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.