Below are three key defensemen who played for the Coyotes’ top affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, in the 2008-09 season. Two of the three are draft picks by the Coyotes.Jonas Ahnelov – Defenseman – San Antonio (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 43 GP, 1 G, 6 A, 7 P, 35 PIM
It was a tough first season in North America for Ahnelov. After being on track to make the Coyotes out of training camp, Ahnelov suffered a hand injury that put him on the injured-reserve list. A shoulder injury and a concussion halfway through the season also hurt the native of Sweden's development in his first season.
“He had a tough year with injuries,” said Sean Burke, the Director of Prospect Development for the Coyotes. “He had three separate injuries. If he could stay injury-free, he could be good.”
Ahnelov’s physical game, defensive approach and great attitude have him on the fast track to the NHL.
“He is a great teammate and always has a smile,” Burke said. “He enjoys the game and is very physical. He is sometimes out of position trying to make the big play. You would like to have him on the team. He will keep everyone loose.”
The Coyotes selected Ahnelov in the third round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. David Schlemko – Defenseman – San Antonio (AHL) 2008-09 Statistics (San Antonio AHL): 68 GP, 7 G, 22 A, 29 P, 20 PIM
2008-09 Statistics (Phoenix NHL): 3 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 0 PIM
After playing a full season with the Arizona Sundogs of the CHL in 2007-08, Schlemko played with the Rampage last season and contributed offense from the blue line. The native of Edmonton had 29 points in 68 games.
The Coyotes signed Schlemko as a free agent on July 19, 2007.
“He had a good season with the Rampage," Burke said. “He makes a great first pass and is very calm with the puck. He is a great teammate.”
The Coyotes recalled Schlemko multiple times in 2008-09 and he made his NHL debut on Feb. 3 at Nashville. Sean Sullivan – Defenseman – San Antonio (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 65 GP, 9 G, 23 A, 32 P, 24 PIM
Like Schlemko, Sullivan also started the 2007-08 season with the Arizona Sundogs before playing his first full season with the Rampage in 2008-09.
Rampage Head Coach Greg Ireland played Sullivan, whom the Coyotes selected in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, in all situations and he contributed nine goals and 32 points in 65 games.
Sullivan's 32 points were tops among Rampage defensemen.
Sullivan is 25 years old and needs to continue to advance through the system at a rapid pace.EDITOR’S NOTE:
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