Wednesday, June 9, 2010

13th - Phoenix Coyotes Draft Preview

One person I know described this as "Phoenix's Roadkill Logo". When people can say that about your team's crest... that's not so good. I've also seen message board comments that suggest it might be bacon, but that's insulting to one of mankind's greatest culinary achievements. Suffice to say that this disgraceful piece of artwork has been scrapped and should forever remain in the trash where it belongs.

1st Pick Last Year: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6th overall) – The Swedish blueliner was a bit of a surprise pick when the Coyotes grabbed him in the 6th position. Some scouts worried about his compete level while still marvelling at his skating and puck moving abilities. Ekman-Larsson has signed his entry level deal and could have an excellent chance at making the opening night roster next season in Phoenix. The defenceman has two professional years under his belt having played for Leksand in the Allsvenskan back in Sweden.
The Good: Peter Mueller (8th overall, 2006) – The former Everett Silvertips star had a strong rookie campaign with the Coyotes in 2007-08 putting up 54 points. After a bit of a production decline in year two, Mueller struggled under a new system in 2009-10 and was moved at the NHL trade deadline to Colorado. With the Avalanche Mueller rediscovered his scoring touch and scored 20 points in 15 games. The middle man has above average size and underrated skill but showed in Denver that he just needed a change of scenery to live up to draft day expectations.

The Bad: Pier-Olivier Pelletier (59th overall, 2005) – The former Drummondville Voltigeurs netminder struggled badly after his draft year. He played 12 games with Waterloo in 2008-09 then followed that up this year with appearances in the Quebec Senior League with Thetford Mines, Elmira Jackals in the ECHL and the CHL’s Laredo Bucks. Pelletier hails from a town in Quebec called St-Louis-du-Ha!Ha!, yes, including the exclamation marks... is that irony or just fitting?

The Unknown: Brett MacLean (32nd overall, 2007) – MacLean led the San Antonio Rampage in scoring this past season with 30 goals and 65 points. He also scored 100 and 119 points in the OHL with Oshawa as a junior. Overshadowed with the Generals because of John Tavares, MacLean is proving that his point production wasn’t simply because of who he played with. He hasn’t played a second in the NHL yet but with his AHL success you can imagine he’ll have the confidence coming into camp in the Fall.

Coming Down the Pipe: The Desert Dogs are deep with prospects thanks to much improved scouting and drafting over the last handful of years. Goalie Mike Lee had a good freshman year at St. Cloud, Michael Stone, Chris Summers, David Schlemko and Ekman-Larsson highlight a strong defensive corps. The forward potentials include Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov, Brett Hextall, Brett MacLean and Chris Brown. Mikkel Boedker should be in contention for full time NHL duty again next year after spending most of 2009-10 in the minors.

Draft Trends: Last year’s selection of Ekman-Larsson was the first time since 1997 that Phoenix chose a defenceman with their first draft pick. The last two drafts have featured North Americans for the most part – only 3 Europeans including an American raised Viktor Tikhonov and an imported Mikkel Boedker who played in Kitchener.

2010 Prediction 13th overall:

Dean Millard: Austin Watson (Peterborough) - Watson is one of the most versatile players in the draft. A solid 2-way centre who was dealt from Windsor to Peterborough. He injured his ankle and missed a good portion of the season but heated up for the Petes with 19 points in their final 7 games. That hot streak included a 6-point game in the regular season finale. The Coyotes take the centre with size that can play in any situation.

Guy Flaming: Vladimir Tarasenko (Novosibirsk) – Arguably the most sought after Russian in the draft, Tarasenko will face the “Russian Issues” because unlike other first round guys from that country, he wasn’t playing in North America this year. However, the fact that he was in the KHL and produced 24 points in 42 games, as an 18-year-old speaks to his talent. He’s a hard working, honest player and I know teams like that he’s shown more grit than a lot of guys from Russia his age.

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