Sunday, August 5, 2012

One To Watch: Phoenix Coyotes

My selection for the Phoenix prospect that I am going to keep close tabs on this year will come as no surprise.

Despite there being several guys in the Coyotes system that I like including Brandon Gormley, Brett Hextall, Mike Lee, Louis Domingue and a former guest blogger here in Ethan Werek, I've chosen someone that I'll get to see a lot of this year. 

Photo: Andy Devlin

Henrik Samuelsson (C/RW)

Edmonton Oil Kings
6'2, 215 lbs
Drafted 27th overall in 2012

There is a lot to like about the budding power forward that Oil Kings fans saw first hand after the Swedish American arrived in the WHL at the CHL trade deadline last January. Obviously the combination of size and skill can't be overlooked and even scouts I spoke with who weren't sold on him because of his average foot speed had to admit that he showed enough potential in other areas to make him a viable prospect. 

Samuelsson came to Edmonton midway through 2010-11 after he and his coach/father Ulf Samuelsson decided that the WHL was a better fit for him in his draft year than playing small minutes in the SEL with Modo. 

It was clear early on that his conditioning wasn't great; he and the Oil Kings decided that he should try and get down to a playing weight closer to 205 lbs. After a couple of months you could easily see that his mobility and stamina had improved.

Samuelsson ended the regular season with 23 points in 28 games and then added 14 more in 17 playoff games. The postseason was particularly impressive for Henrik as his chemistry with Stephane Legault and Curtis Lazar made the trio Edmonton's most effective line on their way to the Memorial Cup. 

Photo: Andy Devlin
Critics will point out the disciplinary incidents, 3 separate suspensions during the regular season and one more in the WHL finals against Portland. In all, Samuelsson missed 4 regular season and 1 playoff game.

Unfortunately for the son, his name bar and his father's reputation have given many people a preconceived opinion of Henrik and the suspensions only added fuel to that fire. Certainly in the power forward role that he plays, there is a physical component to his game but I would not suggest for a minute that Henrik Samuelsson is a dirty player. 

I am looking forward to seeing how a second year in the WHL, including a training camp, will turn out for the Phoenix native.  With plenty of time this summer to get in optimal shape there is every reason to think that he'll be a major contributor to the defending champions.

Photo: Dave Arnold
Samuelsson will definitely be playing top-6 minutes for Edmonton but he could also have the chance to play internationally for team USA at the 2013 WJC in Russia. He is one of 46 players currently working out in Lake Placid and he has a history with USA Hockey having played for the development program in 2010-11. 

Mark it down; the Phoenix Coyotes prospect that I consider "One to Watch" in 2012-13 is Henrik Samuelsson. 

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