GLENDALE -- Michael Callahan felt a good vibe as he left his interview with the Coyotes at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo a few weeks before the NHL Draft.
Callahan, a native/resident of Franklin, Mass., watched the draft while attending the wedding of one of his cousins in Lake Placid, N.Y. His hope of being drafted by Arizona became reality when the Coyotes snatched the young defenseman with the 142nd overall pick.
"I was really excited," Callahan said. "I interviewed with Arizona at the Combine and I thought it went really, really well. I felt the Coyotes were one of the teams that liked me a lot as a person, so when I heard they were the ones who chose me I was overjoyed."
Arizona scouts noticed Callahan playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL while also scouting goalie Ivan Prosvetov, whom the Coyotes selected 28 picks before Callahan. The two draftees not only were teammates in Youngstown, but lived together with the same billet family, and both played key roles during Youngstown's playoff run that ended in the Clark Cup Finals.
"It's been a dream of mine for a long time to be where I'm at now," said Callahan, who notched three goals and 15 assists in 59 USHL games last season and was named to the USHL's All-Rookie Team. "It's been an awesome journey so far."
The Coyotes like Callahan's hockey IQ and his skating ability. They also like the way he plays defense first.
"He's a steady, smart defenseman," said Coyotes Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Bernhardt. "There's nothing flashy about this guy; he's not running up the ice all the time. He's just a 6-foot-2, steady defenseman that moves pucks and jumps in at the opportune times. The more you watched him, you kept walking away going 'You know, this guy's a real solid contributor.'"
Callahan comes from an athletic family and credits being a multi-sport athlete for helping him become an NHL draft pick. He played football while in middle school. He also played baseball and lacrosse until committing to hockey full-time as a junior in high school. He's set to continue his hockey career at Providence College, which has reached the NCAA playoffs five years in a row. The Friars won the national title in 2015.
"I obviously need to work on everything," Callahan said. "Getting to play in the NHL, I'm not at that point yet. Even though my skating is one of my strengths, I've got to get faster. And even though I'm definitely a physical player now, I know I need to become even harder to play against."
Callahan recently attended the Coyotes Prospect Development Camp along with his pal Prosvetov, and the other seven players the team drafted in Dallas last month. It was his first visit to Arizona.
"The camp is an awesome experience," Callahan said. "I didn't know what to expect going into it, but it was incredible being able to get on the ice with the coaches and also getting into the weight room with the strength and conditioning staff. I also liked going out into the community. It was all a great way to get a feel for what the Arizona Coyotes are all about."