COYOTES FIRST ROUND DRAFT CHOICES OFF
TO TORRID STARTS IN 2006-07
The Phoenix Coyotes top draft selections from the last three NHL Entry Drafts have performed tremendously to begin the 2006-07 season. Peter Mueller with Everett of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Martin Hanzal with Red Deer of the WHL, and Blake Wheeler at the University of Minnesota (WCHA) are each among scoring leaders in their respective leagues and have garnered recognition.
Mueller, the 8th overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, was yesterday named WHL Player of the Month for November. During the month, the 18-year-old center posted 25 points including 21 assists in 12 games while leading Everett to a record of 11-1-0-0.
In just 23 games this season - fewer games than any other player among the league's top 50 scorers - Mueller ranks 3rd in WHL scoring with 43 points and leads the league in assists with 36. In a 5-3 win over Tri-City on Nov. 25, Mueller assisted on all five Everett goals to set a new junior career high. Everett leads the WHL's U.S. Division with a record of 23-2-0-1 and owns the league's best winning percentage of .904.
Hanzal, 19, ranks 2nd in the WHL in both scoring with 48 points and assists with 33 (trailing only Mueller) in 32 games. The 6-foot-5, 208-pound native of Pisek, Czech Republic was chosen by the Coyotes with the 17th overall selection in the 2005 NHL Draft. Hanzal was recently named the WHL Player of the Week when he registered 2-6-8 in 3 games from Nov. 21-26. The WHL rookie forward figured in all Red Deer scoring in a 5-1 win over Swift Current on Nov. 25 when he collected a goal and 4 assists. Hanzal's Red Deer Rebels are 17-11-1-2 this season.
Wheeler, the 5th overall selection in the 2004 Entry Draft, ranks tied for second in scoring in the WCHA with 19 points including 10 goals in 17 games this season. The 20-year-old sophomore trails the league's scoring leader by one point. Wheeler, a 6-foot-5, 214-pound native of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, is also +8. His Golden Gophers are ranked No. 1 in the nation while leading the WCHA with a conference record of 7-0-3 and an overall mark of 13-1-3 this season.