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Familiar names among Coyotes' top 10 prospects

Wednesday, 08.27.2014 / 3:00 AM
Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt said it's just a coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players.

The list of 'Who's Who' of players in the pipeline with familiar last names include forwards Max Domi (son of Tie Domi), Henrik Samuelsson (Ulf Samuelsson), Ryan MacInnis (Al MacInnis), Brendan Perlini (Fred Perlini); defenseman Connor Murphy (Gord Murphy); and goalie Brendan Burke (Sean Burke). As if that weren't enough, the organization also invited unsigned right wing Jackson Playfair (Jim Playfair) to development camp in July.

"It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads," Bernhardt said. "It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization."

A few of the players are in line to earn roster spots out of training camp.

"I'm really convinced that we need to open up opportunity for some young legs," Arizona general manager Don Maloney said. "I thought at the end of [2013-14] we seemed to get old and slow in a hurry, and I didn't like it."

Domi was one of the final players cut from last season's training camp and he has his sights set on bigger and better things in 2014-15.

"The preference is to be patient and allow these kids to mature and develop at the junior level," Bernhardt said. "Max is possibly one of the exceptions. He's a mature kid physically and has been around pro hockey his whole life, so he's ahead of a lot of guys in that area."

Samuelsson will enter training camp with plenty of confidence after serving as an assistant captain for the Memorial Cup-winning Edmonton Oil Kings.

"You've got to have young players you draft move up in your organization and become parts of your organization," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "Really, if you look at the top teams around the League, at least half of their players are homegrown, and that's drafting, developing and making sure they get the time they need to become good NHL players."

Here's a look at the Coyotes' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. Max Domi, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 12), 2013 draft

Last season: 61 GP, 34-59-93, London, OHL

After being returned to London following an impressive training camp last September, Domi excelled for the Knights and finished eighth in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race, and the 19-year-old also had 10 points in nine OHL playoff games. He finished the season with two assists in three games at the Memorial Cup. The 5-foot-9, 197-pound forward has 94 goals, 229 points and 209 penalty minutes in 187 games in three OHL seasons.

"I think Max understood he had a ways to go [last season], and even he's already told us that the year in London made a big difference," Bernhardt said. "We really like his development. Three years in junior and three Memorial Cup appearances … now he needs to learn the pro game and the best way to do that is to be involved in it. It's just another reason why he's really close to taking the next step."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

2. Brandon Gormley, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 13), 2010 draft

Last season: 54 GP, 7-29-36, Portland, AHL

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound left-shot defender was an alternate captain for the Pirates in 2013-14, his second season in the American Hockey League, and played well enough to get into five NHL games. He is in line to earn a full-time NHL job now.

The 22-year-old competes well and can play a solid, consistent, two-way game. He is effective on the power play, penalty kill and in 5-on-5 situations. Bernhardt believes Gormley is "close to full-time duty [in the NHL]."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

3. Brendan Perlini, LW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 12), 2014 draft

Last season: 58 GP, 34-37-71, Niagara, OHL

A strong skater with good size (6-3, 205) and skill, Perlini was impressive at the team's prospect development camp in July. The 18-year-old, projected as a top-six forward, has 42 goals and 83 points in 117 Ontario Hockey League games spanning two seasons. Last season he led the IceDogs in goals, was second in points and was named the team's most sportsmanlike player. His father, Fred, played in the British Hockey League and also played eight games with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1981-84).

"He has that upside that is so intriguing," Bernhardt said. "There's lots of room to continue to develop and grow. He's already a 200-plus pound kid who will probably end up at 220. He's got great hands and a great stride that will only get stronger. Good now and could end up being outstanding at the end of the game. He's 6-3 and can put the puck in the net the way he does; we have high hopes for him."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

4. Henrik Samuelsson, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 27), 2012 draft

Last season: 65 games, 35-60-95, Edmonton, WHL

A physical 6-3, 216-pound forward with a good scoring touch and grit, Samuelsson is a future candidate for a top-six role. He had eight goals, 23 points and 51 penalty minutes in 21 Western Hockey League playoff games, and led the Memorial Cup in scoring with eight points in five games.

Though he needs to improve his skating, the 20-year-old possesses excellent hands and offensive instincts. Maloney told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in June that Domi and Samuelsson have excellent chances of starting the season with the Coyotes.

"Henrik can really shoot a puck and make a play, and once he gets inside the blue line there aren't too many who are better," Bernhardt said. "When he gets to the pro level and realizes the speed, the pace of the game, we think that'll help push him forward to the conditioning level he needs to get to."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Tyler Gaudet, C

How acquired: Signed as a free agent, Nov. 4, 2013

Last season: 65 GP, 26-35-61, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL; 2 GP, 0-0-0, Portland, AHL

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound forward had an outstanding final season of junior hockey, being voted best defensive forward, best penalty-killer and most improved player by the coaches in the OHL's Western Conference. The 21-year-old reportedly added 12 pounds since last summer and is in great physical shape.

"He's an overage player we signed last year from Sault Ste. Marie and we really like him," Bernhardt said. "He's a centerman who plays a smart, two-way game and we really think he's a kid that has an opportunity in this League."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

6. Tobias Rieder, RW

How acquired: Trade (Edmonton Oilers), March 29, 2013

Last season: 64 GP, 28-20-48, Portland, AHL

The 5-10, 179-pound German-born forward was acquired in exchange for prospect Kale Kessy. He has a high compete level and a willingness to work hard along the wall. The 21-year-old managed 0.75 points-per-game in his first full AHL season.

"He has lots of substance in his game," Bernhardt said. "Coaches like him because he does the right things out there and he knows how to play the game. He's not big or overly fast but does everything pretty well."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

7. Lucas Lessio, LW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 56), 2011 draft

Last season: 69 GP, 29-25-54, Portland, AHL

Lessio, 21, finished his first full professional season in Portland with positive numbers across the board while getting stronger and making a positive impression on the coaches. He also got into three NHL games.

At 6-1 and 206 pounds, he offers good speed, puck skills and an ability to play any type of game.

"He's a hard-charging, big, strong kid," Bernhardt said. "The ability is there. He just needs to keep working hard as he did last season in Portland."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

8. Laurent Dauphin, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 39), 2013 draft

Last season: 52 GP, 24-30-54, Chicoutimi, QMJHL

It wasn't too long ago that Dauphin (6-foot, 165) had one goal and two points on the way to being named the player of the game for Team Orr at 2013 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game after being added to the roster as an injury replacement. The 19-year-old left-shot forward still needs time to develop his overall game but is on the right track.

Dauphin, who was an assistant captain with Chicoutimi last season, has 49 goals and 111 points in 114 career games spanning two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"He's a smart player. Not a lot of flash, but we like what he brings to the table," Bernhardt said. "He's beginning to physically mature. He's not a big kid but getting stronger each quarter of the year so that's all we could ask of him. He was held back a bit after undergoing shoulder surgery at the end of last season but he's fully recovered and ready to go."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

9. Ryan MacInnis, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 43), 2014 draft

Last season: 66 GP, 16-21-37, Kitchener, OHL

The son of Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis, Ryan (6-3, 183) had a solid first season in the OHL, finishing among the top 10 rookie scorers. However, he will need more time in juniors to build strength and develop his overall game.

"We really feel that Ryan has a chance to fill out, and we like his potential," Bernhardt said. "He's still a very thin kid at 180 pounds, but we project him to be in the 200-pound range. When he gets there he will complement that frame with the head, hands and compete level we've seen. He plays hard and is a smart hockey player. There's nothing wrong with his skating but we see it all coming together for him down the road. We think in two years he'll develop into a really good hockey player."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

10. Anton Karlsson, RW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 87), 2014 draft

Last season: 28 GP, 12-10-22, Frolunda Jr., SWE-JR.

Karlsson (6-1, 187) spent the majority of 2013-14 with Frolunda's under-20 team in Sweden's top junior league and also was the youngest player to skate for Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. He's a strong playmaker who can finish and offers a warrior-type mentality when attacking the puck.

The 18-year-old, who was selected No. 55 by the Erie Otters in the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft in July, signed a two-year contract with reigning Swedish Hockey League champion Skelleftea on Aug. 13.

"We think he plays a North American style of game," Bernhardt said. "He's good along the boards and down low behind and in front of the net."

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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