Despite a rough start to the 2006-07 season, the Phoenix Coyotes remain positive by focusing on the youth on this hockey club. Perhaps no player has better embodied those positive that the Coyotes are pointing to better than rookie Enver Lisin.
When training camp began, many people did not know who Enver Lisin was. But after a few weeks of training camp it was clear that the Coyotes and Head Coach Wayne Gretzky had a player that might be something special. At six-feet, two-inches tall, Lisin is not a person that you can miss. Along with his size, Lisin has exceptional speed and an NHL caliber shot.
"It's come form hard work and skating," said Gretzky. "It's a simple game when you skateâ€¦I am happy for (Enver), I think (he's) playing really well and really hard and we need to get everybody playing exactly like that."
When Lisin arrived in Phoenix, the Coyotes only other Russian born player, Oleg Saprykin, quickly took the rookie under his wing, as other veterans had done with Saprykin when he first entered the NHL.
"I remember my first days (in the NHL), Valeri (Bure) and Igor Kravchuck, those guys helped me," said Saprykin. "It's great to have someone on the team to help you with a lot of things, because it's different compared to Russia."
Not only does Saprykin help him on the ice, but also away from the rink, Enver is doing the same thing that Oleg did when he was a rookie in the league.
"He's staying with me right now, that's what I did when I came over," said Saprykin. "I stayed with Valeri (Bure) just helping him out to get used to language and everything that happens here."
Gretzky quickly saw the chemistry that Lisin and Saprykin had, so he paired the two together on a line with Dave Scatchard, creating a line that is seldom outworked by the opposing club..
"He's a fast guy, he reads the plays well, and we've got a bit of chemistry," Saprykin said of his fellow countryman.
Coyotes General Manager Mike Barnett is also pleased with his second round pick from the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
"We'd seen him play in a lot of international tournaments," said Barnett. "(Lisin's) speed was exceptional for his age group, and we made a lot of quick decisions at the draft table to move up to the 50th spot to be able to select him at the moment we did."
Barnett is not surprised that Lisin has played so well through the first six games in his NHL career. Two years ago, during the NHL lockout, and while a member of Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague, an 18 year old, Lisin had an opportunity to play with established NHL stars Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Dany Heatley, Alexei Kovalev, Darius Kasparaitis Alexei Zhitnik, and Nikolai Khabibulin.
"He might be a rookie in this league but he played at a very high level in the best league in Russia," said Barnett. "He's had real good experience playing with players who have enjoyed success playing at the NHL level and that experience is showing itself in his playing beyond his years both in his understanding in the pro game and in his confidence."
Lisin has the size, the speed and the wits about him to be a very good player in the NHL. And while he has not found the back of the net as of yet, just wait until he does. Phoenix certainly will be in for something special.