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Phoenix Coyotes: 2008-09 Top 12 Prospects

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Shane Malloy, Prospect Insider
2/10/2009 1:40:37 PM
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The Phoenix Coyotes' farm system is finally taking shape after their terrible draft record from 1997 to 2003, which was the main reason why this organization has had problems. Through that seven year span, the Coyotes managed to produce six players out of 63 draft choices at a success rate of 9.5 per cent - among the lowest in the league. Of those six players, only Matt Jones remains with the organization and he's playing on the farm team in San Antonio. The others are Ben Eager in Chicago, Freddy Sjostrom with the NY Rangers and Ossi Vaananen in Philadelphia. The last two remaining players are not in the NHL, as David LeNeveu and Wyatt Smith are both in the AHL.

After years of futility, the Coyotes have done a remarkable turn around drafting and developing prospects with eight players from the 2004 to 2008 drafts on their roster. It is quite possible that the Coyotes may have as many as twelve players from those draft years playing in NHL games next season.

Both Martin Hanzal and Peter Mueller - who were the first round picks in 2005 and 2006 - have already earned roster spots and are fixtures on the top two lines. The Coyotes have seen forwards Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, Victor Tikhonov, Enver Lisin and Kevin Porter all play in NHL with success this year. The lone defenceman making the jump was Keith Yandle, who should be followed by a couple of more blueliners in time.

The Coyotes also have forwards with elite skills coming through the system after years of a bare cupboard. Now the offense is the strength of the organization, considering how well they have drafted as of late. With Turris, Boedker, Tikhonov and Lisin, they have the potential to make an impact soon. Porter left college and has already pushed some veterans in the NHL and could develop into a role player. Two other promising forwards are AHL rookie Brett McLean and Jared Staal, who are both a few years away making their presence known. Not signing Blake Wheeler to a contract may come back to haunt the Coyotes.

On defence, it looks as though Keith Yandle is ready for full time NHL action this season after a couple years of development at the AHL level. The Coyotes do have some depth with a trio of potential blueliners in Chris Summers, Nick Ross and Jonas Ahnelov. Collectively, they are still two to four years behind Yandle in the developmental process. Adding third rounders Michael Stone and Mathieu Brodeur helped in depth, but the Coyotes need to add a couple of highly skilled defencemen over the next couple of drafts.

They have a new goalie of the future in Al Montoya who the Coyotes picked up in a trade from the New York Rangers. He is projected to be an upgrade over David LeNeveu. The Coyotes did draft Swedish netminder Joel Gistedt and signed free agent Josh Tordjman, but additional talent and depth is needed. Unfortunately, Montoya is in his fourth year in the AHL and has not developed as quickly as planned and more patience may be required. A bright light as been the play of Tordjman, but it is still uncertain whether he could play at the NHL pace.

For the upcoming draft, the Coyotes will need to add one more top end goaltender along with talent on defence to keep the farm team flush.

Kyle Turris – Center, 19 (1st round, 3rd overall, 2007)
Currently with Phoenix (NHL)

This talented pivot oozes hockey sense and has the elite level skill to become an All-Star player you build an organization around. He completely dominated the BCHL over two seasons and had an excellent year in the NCAA as a freshman last year. His vision and passing ability is uncanny and Turris has shown that he can make the players around him better. He has a deadly shot and is lethal every time he touches the puck. He is on pace for about 30 points as a rookie in the NHL which does not shoot the lights, but Turris is capable of more. At 6-1 and 170 pounds, Turris lacks the physical stature to complete on a nightly basis without getting worn down. This is something that will have to be worked on in the off-season to become a more complete player and avoid potential injury. He is not all offense, as Turris is a responsible two-way player and shows he understands the value of body position, active stick while keeping his feet moving. He hustles back and makes an effort to help defensively which is a good habit for a young player. He has the potential to be a team leader one day and that could help change the fortune of the entire organization. Having the opportunities to win the RBC and at the WJC were important developmental steps that will help him in the future. He might need an extra year to adjust physically before he starts producing offense at a higher clip and being brought up too soon to the NHL might have hindered him temporarily.

Mikkel Boedker – Right Wing, 19 (1st round 8th overall 2008)
Currently with Phoenix (NHL)

The Danish kid made the move to North America and lit up the OHL last season after coming over from Sweden. He shows the creativity, vision and hockey sense to play at the pro level and reads the ice exceptionally fast. Now that Boedker has made the jump to the pros, he has shown no trouble with the tempo and speed of the game. His decision making at top speed is excellent and works well with other elite skilled forwards. In the offensive and neutral zone he uses his linemates and options very well. Rarely does Boedker panic with the puck and he creates time and space on the rush for his linemates and himself. The name of his game is speed, which causes defencemen to back up to quickly and give him too much room because they are scared to get burned. His quickness to jump on loose pucks or separate from defenders in close quarters is a tremendous asset along with his agility to avoid contact. Over the next couple of seasons he will need to improve his core strength to avoid getting pushed around and have greater success on puck battles. He used quickness to shield the puck in junior but when he reaches the pro ranks he will need to options like using his body and strength. As a shooter he disguises his intentions well and lets loose an exceptionally quick shot and accurate, whether it his wrist or slapshot. He should shoot the puck more and be selfish at times instead of dishing it off but he has a knack for scoring some clutch goals. Boedker plays a puck possession defence and prefers to use his speed along with a quick stick to break up developing plays in the defensive zone. Due to his quickness, he can backcheck effectively and generally gets to the right position and can cover the point once the opposition is set up in the zone. Boedker is improving his timing of when to plug gaps when out manned in a zone and shows he seems to understand which angles to take to cut off options. Once the play goes down low or is along the boards in his zone is where he needs work since he does not engage the opposition physically and it is an option he needs to learn. Overall, he still needs some work defensively like most young prospects but he has the tools. He is not physical player and rarely makes a big hit, which needs to change since the opposition will attack him because they will think he can be intimidated. The one thing that you never have to worry about is him taking bad penalties or penalties at all as he could be a perennial Lady Byng trophy candidate. Boedker has displayed a good work ethic, is coachable and has a competitive nature despite his lack of physicality. He has the ability to be an all-star player who should be able to contribute quickly with his speed and scoring ability.

Keith Yandle – Defence, 22 (4th round, 105th overall, 2005)
Currently with Phoenix (NHL)

The potential two-way defenceman looks like he has developed into an NHLer sooner than expected. He has the offensive instincts to make a nice pass out of his zone and lead the rush up the ice with some power play quarterback abilities. Yandle has decent size at 6-2 and 195 pounds and is willing to mix it up physically but it would not hurt if he was stronger. His best asset is his overall mobility and he could surprise some in the next year. He had made a nice adjustment offensively to the AHL game and averaged a point every other game from the blueline and it seems he is making the same transition to the NHL. Away from the puck, Yandle is improving in his defensive game and consistently makes better decisions and maintains better habits than in the past. Yandle could fit somewhere in the top five if he continues to improve his defensive play. He is more effective playing with a higher calibre of talent at the NHL level.

Viktor Tikhonov – Left Wing, 20 (1st round, 28th overall 2008)
Currently with Phoenix/San Antonio (NHL/AHL)

He's not your typical Russian prospect, considering his family ties to the game of hockey and living in North America for much of his life. He was by passed over in the NHL draft twice and was a little bit of a surprise to be chosen in the first round but he has not disappointed so far. He had played last season in the Russian Elite League so his transition to playing pro in North America shouldn't be terribly difficult. He displays good overall hockey sense and can play with higher skilled players and not look out of touch. He has solid overall puck skills and passes the puck well, but needs to improve his play in the traffic areas. He possesses a sneaky quick wrist shot and a slap shot that can fool netminders - but he does not use it often enough. He shows good overall skating ability and gets off the mark pretty quickly and shows agility to deke - but needs to add some power to his stride. He's still lanky at 6-2 and 187 pounds, Tikhonov will need to add the power and core strength needed to compete and remain consistent on a nightly basis in the NHL. He is improving on the defensive side, but since the speed and angles are different in the NHL compared to the Russian ice surfaces it will take time to make full adjustments. He seems to have all the intangibles you want in a player and he is motivated to be a NHL player. It remains to be seen how much of his game translates to the NHL game but Tikhonov certainly can develop into a fine NHL player.

Brett MacLean – Left Wing, 20 (2nd round 32nd overall 2007)
Currently with San Antonio (AHL)

A once lanky winger has grown into his 6-2 and 197 pound frame and his overall skating ability improved over the past year. He put up great numbers two seasons ago with 100 points in 68 games and 119 points the following season playing along side John Tavares. He has the hockey sense to play with elite offensive players and MacLean puts himself in a position to contribute. He shows soft hands around the crease and has a quick right handed release that can be deadly on a power play. He's not afraid to hang around the slot to pick up rebounds and adjusts his body position to get himself in scoring positions. He's not a liability defensively and maintains a good work ethic and has a knack for getting himself in the right place. It will be interesting to see how quickly he adjusts to the AHL and his offensive production without playing with Tavares. To his credit, MacLean has played quite well as a rookie in the AHL and has not looked out of place. He must continue to work on his skating and defensive game like all young players, but he could be a good second line winger one day.

Chris Summers – Defence, Age 20 (1st round 29th overall 2007)
Currently with Michigan (NCAA)

A defenceman who has skating ability to excel in a faster moving game. He's been well coached at Michigan along with his international experience, Summers should make easier transition to the pro ranks in the AHL. He does not seem to have the offensive instincts, vision and puck skills to rack up the points at the pro level but he will contribute some offense. That is not to say he cannot pass the puck - Summers just tries to make smart safe passes and keep it simple. He has played some forward at Michigan due to injuries but he was not as effective up front. Defensively, he seems to understand the value of puck possession and knowing when to rush the puck out of the zone. It is his improvement in gap control and staying on the right side of the puck that shows he can be very effective. He has shown the ability to angle off forwards and eliminate the forecheck with his speed. He still is a little light at 6-2 and 185 pounds. Considering his size, he will mix it up physically and likes to play gritty. He will most likely need a couple of seasons in the AHL before getting a solid look at a roster spot. Summers has the potential and most likely could develop into a defensive defenceman that can handle speed rushers.

Al Montoya – Goalie, 23 (1st Round 6th overall 2004 – Trade NY Rangers 2008)
Currently with San Antonio (AHL)

He's a goaltender that can make the tough save look easy and has the talent to steal games for his team. He is athletic and composed under fire and perhaps only needs another year or two of development before he hits the bright lights. He has been projected as the future No. 1 goaltender and the Coyotes are hoping they have better luck with this first round pick than the Rangers. He is still young for a goalie and most netminders do not hit the NHL before their 24th birthday, so he still has time. Now he moves well in his crease and shows good athleticism, which gives him a chance to make every save. His mechanics in the crease are good as Montoya displays decent habits when he is in his game. He can flash a quick glove hand and is improving play with his blocker when directing pucks. He can smother any puck that comes near him and others times lets the puck dictate the direction of its next location. Montoya can play the puck with exceptional skill and moves and communications with his defencemen well. He sometimes loses focus and that causes the inconsistencies in his game from night to night. In terms of statistics he has been good - even starting in his 2005-2006 rookie season in Hartford. He started off with solid statistics posting a 23-9-1 record along with a 2.61 GAA and a .907 save percentage. His playoff numbers that year were impressive as he posted a 1.86 GAA and a .932 save percentage in three games. His next two seasons were equally solid, even after he was traded last year. Things look to have unraveled more than a little this year and his moxie and intestinal fortitude will be tested. If he can turn his game around, he may fulfill his full potential otherwise time might be running out in a couple years. Remember Coyotes fans, it took Ryan Miller till his 25th birthday to become an NHL goalie after playing three seasons in the AHL - so there is hope yet.

Kevin Porter – Left Wing, 22 (4th round, 119th overall, 2004)
Currently with San Antonio/Phoenix (AHL/NHL)

He's a gritty hard nose winger who possesses leadership abilities and the intangibles that teams covet. He has shown a knack for clutch goal-scoring and his offensive numbers exceeded expectations when he was in college. He has the skating ability and enough hockey sense to be a gritty hard working third-liner that kills penalties and scores the occasional goal. He's not the biggest player at 6-0 and 195 pounds, but he puts his nose in and works hard. He is one of those players that has a team-first attitude by forechecking hard, blocking shots and doing the little things. His offensive numbers from college might not translate to the NHL where Porter averaged over a point a game with 183 points in 162 games. Porter garnered excellent experience playing for Team USA and was well coached in Michigan. He should make a smooth transition to the pro ranks.

Jonas Ahnelov – Defence, 21 (3rd round 88th overall 2006)
Currently with San Antonio (AHL)

A no-nonsense defensive defenceman that tries to go out every game and just take care of his own zone. He has nice size at 6-3 and 205 pounds and is a strong enough skater not to be burned by speed rushers. Do not expect any offence from him at the pro level - that is not his game and he lacks the puck skills. Whether in the defensive or offensive zone, Ahnelov gets the puck off his stick as fast as he can and will use the first option or off the wall. He likes to play a physical game and has been known to lay a few good body checks. He's a steady defensive player who has adapted well to the different ice dimensions from Sweden and must continue to work on keeping his game simple and consistent. He uses good body position and leans on forwards hard. He seems to show pretty good judgment when it comes to angles and speed. He will need to play another season in the AHL and it is unsure whether Ahnelov could play at the NHL tempo and speed on a consistent basis.

Enver Lisin – Right Wing, Age 22 (2nd round, 50th overall, 2004)
Currently with Phoenix (NHL)
He is a slick offensive winger who has excellent speed and can create chances for himself and his teammates. At times he looks to have the ability and shot to score goals, but he has not been consistent in getting himself into scoring areas. The speedy Russian can cause mismatches with his quickness. He's not the sturdiest of players at 6-1 and 190 pounds and does not play and physical or assertive way unless there is an offensive opportunity. He needs to play better in his own end and make better decisions while keeping it simple. He must become better defensively and uses his lanky frame more effectively. He has not shown his full capabilities at the NHL level and is the wild card of the group. This is not to say he doesn't have the skills to play at the NHL, but Lisin needs to be more than just a one dimensional player. He was adaptable and showed a greater work ethic since it takes more than the skill to be successful. It is unsure whether he is fully committed to play in the NHL or will he go back to Russian so he is a wait and see project.

Nick Ross – Defence, 20 (1st round 30th overall 2007)
Currently with Vancouver (WHL)

At first glance he does not have great size at 6-1 and 195 pounds, but he has the skating ability and hockey sense to be effective. He has the potential to be a solid NHL defenceman that goes out most nights and does not get noticed, but makes sound decisions with or without the puck. Ross passes the puck out of his zone really well and can hit a forward at full speed. Overall, he has good puck skills, hockey sense and shooting ability with the potential to produce points at the pro level. He understands that maintaining proper positioning and playing a conservative game leads to greater success from the defensive zone out. He plays a puck possession style and tends to use his stick over his body when defending down low. Do not expect him to be a physical defenceman - he needs to get stronger to compete for one on one battles. He will contribute points but is not considered a top end offensive defenceman. Even with all the tools he has, Ross needs to show a greater urgency to his game and display some passion with intensity. Expect him to spend two to three years in the AHL learning his craft and making the adjustment to the professional ranks.

Jared Staal – Right Wing, 18 (2nd round 49th overall 2008) Currently with Sudbury (OHL)
Currently with Philadelphia (AHL)

The last of the Staal brothers is next in line for the NHL draft and some feel he has been labeled with unrealistic expectations from his sibling's success. He has some of the tools and the pedigree to play at the NHL level, but Staal most likely will take a little longer to developing depending on how bad he wants it. He seems to have the hockey sense to handle the tempo, speed and the quick decisions required to play pro while showing good vision on the ice. Staal's individual puck skills are good but not elite and he has the ability to play in traffic and not get overwhelmed or panic. His skating is improving and he shows a quick burst on occasion and can motor once he starts rolling and he will make significant strides once he gains strength. Staal is like a young buck that has not quite figured out how to put all his athletic ability together. When he shoots the puck (whether it is the wrist or slap shot) it has velocity with good accuracy and he gets it off his stick quickly. Once he is in the offensive zone or setting up on the power play, he can anticipate the developing play and find seams in the scoring areas with varying degrees of success. He makes pretty good decisions whether to shoot, pass or stickhandle depending on what the oppositions shows him. In front of the net, he shows at times a knack for tipping shots and scoring goals in the dirty areas. Considering how awful Sudbury was defensively as a group last year with eight players having a minus-20 or worse, Staal was solid away from the puck. He began to show the ability to a two-way player by identifying which position to break to on the backcheck and gauging both the speed and angles. Like all young prospects, it will take time to learn the value of playing good defence since it creates more offensive opportunities. Taking into account his size, he does not play a real physical style and needs to bang and crash more often to give himself more space especially down low and around the crease. He has the ability but it may be a matter of confidence and how badly he wishes to succeed. Of all the prospects on this list he has the blueprint for success from his brothers and he has all the intangibles and it is matter whether he wants to tap into it. He has the potential to be a top six forward in the NHL, but he may take four years or five years - similar to Eric Fehr from the Washington Capitals.

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Phoenix Coyotes - NHL Entry Draft Record (1997 - 2003)

When looking at the drafting and developing record of a NHL organization it becomes an interesting blend of statistics and circumstances with perhaps some luck thrown in for good measure. Most of the time the General Manager receives kudos for a teams fortunes at the draft table when in reality it is usually never the case in today's NHL. For the most part there are three aspects that make the whole process work; first is the amateur scouting department's ability to evaluate and project talent which may be the most challenging of all. Next the organizations player development department must attempt to mold the prospects by giving the players tools to enhance his talents. Perhaps most importantly is the prospects responsibility to pay the price and sacrifice which generally requires a tremendous work ethic. If one of these aspects fails then the likelihood of a prospect turning into an asset to his organization and having a NHL career becomes remote.

The reason for the analyzing the years from 1997 to 2003 is to first give each NHL organization five years to develop their prospects as players from different leagues evolve differently. Secondly the years from 1997-2003 are the players that should be the building blocks of the core of your team as they will be in the 23-29 year old age range. What makes each organization unique is what they do with the picks they have as management will often trade draft choices for immediate help on their NHL and AHL teams. Now some players may be real late bloomers and eventually make the criteria set in this analysis down the road but at this stage it is fascinating to see the results.

Criteria of NHL games played that deem a player has been drafted and developed successfully.

 

  Forwards - Defenceman Goaltenders
1997-2001 125-200 NHL Games required 51-100 NHL Games Played
2002-2003 100 NHL Games required 25-50 NHL Games Played
Pending Player - Represents a player who has a legitimate chance to make criteria

Phoenix Coyotes 1997-2003

Year Draft Picks NHL Players Produced (Round/Pick)
1997 6 (1) (C) Wyatt Smith (9/233)
1998 10 (1) (D) Ossi Vaananen (2/43)
1999 9 (0)
2000 8 (1) (C) Krys Kolanos (1/19)
2001 9 (1) (RW) Freddy Sjostrom (1/11)
2002 11 (2) (D) Matt Jones (3/80), (LW) Ben Eager (1/23), (G) David LeNeveu (2/46)
2003 8 (0)

Total: 7 yrs – 63 draft picks – 6 NHL Players = 9.5% success rate

Success in the first three rounds (1997-2003)

1st rnd Draft Choices: 7 total picks
Patrick DesRochers, Scott Kelman, Kirill Safronov, Jakub Kories
7 yrs – 7 draft picks – 3 NHL Players = 42.8% success rate

2nd rnd Draft Choices: 7 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects – Matt Spiller, Martin Podlesak, Alexander Tatarinov, Brad Ralph, Juha Gustafsson
7 yrs 7 draft picks – 2 NHL Players = 28.5% success rate

3rd rnd Choices: 8 total picks
Undeveloped Prospects – Pat O'Leary, Jason Jaspers, Ramzi Abid, Beat Forster, Joe Callahan, Tyler Redenbach, Dmitri Pestunov
7yrs –8 draft picks – 1 NHL Players = 12.5% success rate

Total: 7 yrs – 22 draft picks – 6 NHL Players = 27.3% success rate in first 3 rounds

First Three Rounds - Developed vs. Prospects/NA vs. Euro
Developed players: (3) North American, (3) European
Undeveloped Prospects: (9) North American, (7) European

Success in the last six round (1997-2003)

4th rnd to 9th rnd Choices: 39 total picks
7 yrs – 39 draft picks – 1 NHL Players = 2.5% success rate

Shane Malloy provides hockey prospect insight and analysis on his Prospect Insider feature on TSN.ca, Canada's leading sports website. Many sports networks, hockey magazines and major newspapers have drawn upon his expertise and knowledge. His passion for the game and involvement in grass roots hockey from the junior hockey to the National Hockey League is evident. He is currently a host and hockey event reporter on XM Sirius Satellite Radio (Home Ice 204) where he co-hosts a hockey radio show on Hockey Prospects and the Business of Hockey.

Prior to joining TSN, Malloy was the columnist-covering prospects for NHL.com for two years and a NHL and prospect columnist Fox Sports.com for six years.

This document is the intellectual property of Shane Malloy and cannot be used or duplicated in anyway without expressed written consent. Any use of this document without the expressed written consent of Shane Malloy will result in public exposure and legal prosecution.

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Kyle Turris (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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