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The Official Site of the Arizona Coyotes


by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

GLENDALE, ARIZONA --- The Phoenix Coyotes today selected right wing Chris Brown (36th overall), goaltender Michael Lee (91st overall), right wing Jordan Szwarz (97th overall), defenseman Justin Weller (105th overall) and left wing Evan Bloodoff (157th overall) to conclude the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal.

Phoenix also acquired defenseman Jim Vandermeer from the Calgary Flames in exchange for right wing Brandon Prust; received defenseman Sami Lepisto from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fifth round draft choice in the 2010 Entry Draft; and acquired defenseman Shaun Heshka from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a seventh round draft choice (187th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

The Coyotes drafted defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the sixth overall selection in the first round on Friday.

“We are extremely pleased with the way this weekend unfolded for our organization, beginning with the selection of a top defensive prospect in Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Friday,” said Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney. “We also added a tough NHL defenseman in Jim Vandermeer, who will help solidify our defense. We drafted some terrific young prospects, including Michael Lee, a top-rated goaltender, and were also able to improve the defensive depth in our organization.”

The Coyotes used the 36th overall selection to draft Brown, who spent the 2008-09 season with the United States National Under-18 Team in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). The 18-year-old recorded 20-18-38 and a team-leading 120 penalty minutes (PIM) in 62 games last season and also ranked 2nd on the team with 10 power play goals. He helped lead Team USA to the gold medal in the 2009 Under-18 World Championship in North Dakota, collecting 4-3-7 in seven games. A native of Flower Mound, Texas, Brown will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

The Coyotes drafted Lee in the 3rd round with the 91st overall pick, which they had acquired from the New York Islanders in exchange for a third round choice in the 2010 Entry Draft. Lee, 18, posted a record of 26-15-4 with a 2.40 goals against average (GAA), a .918 save percentage (SV%) and three shutouts in 48 games with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League (USHL) last season. He ranked 2nd among USHL goalies in both wins (26) and save percentage (.918) while being named 2008-09 USHL Goaltender of the Year. He was also named to the 2008-09 USHL All-Rookie Team and played in the 2009 USHL All-Star Game. In addition, Lee was named Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey. He will attend St. Cloud State University in the fall.

The Coyotes used the first of their two 4th round picks to select Szwarz 97th overall. Szwarz, 18, recorded 17-34-51 and 76 PIM in 67 games last season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). A native of Burlington, Ontario, he ranked 2nd on the team with a +17 rating as well as 4th in points (51). The 5-foot-11, 189-pound Szwarz also registered 1-5-6 and 10 PIM in eight playoff contests. Phoenix then selected Weller, 17, with the 105th overall pick. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Daysland, Alberta spent last season with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and was limited to 32 games due to injury and finished with four assists and 30 PIM.

The Coyotes completed their 2009 Entry Draft by selecting Bloodoff in the 6th round with the 157th overall pick. Bloodoff, 18, played in 71 games for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL last season, collecting 12-9-21 and 77 PIM. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Castlegar, British Columbia also added 3-3-6 in 22 playoff games as Kelowna captured the WHL Championship before advancing to the Memorial Cup Finals.

In addition to the draft selections, the Coyotes also acquired three defensemen in three separate trades on Saturday. Vandermeer, the six-year NHL veteran who was acquired for Prust, appeared in 45 games with Calgary last season, recording 1-6-7 and 108 PIM. He also played in six playoff games for the Flames. The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Vandermeer registered 3-14-17 and 110 PIM during the 2007-08 season while playing a total of 75 games with Chicago, Philadelphia and Calgary. He finished the season by appearing in seven playoff games for the Flames.

A native of Caroline, Alberta, Vandermeer has appeared in 312 career NHL games with Philadelphia, Chicago and Calgary. He began his NHL career with the Flyers in 2002-03, recording 2-1-3 in 24 games. The following season, he collected 5-12-17 in 46 games as he split the season between Philadelphia and Chicago. Vandermeer had a career year in 2005-06 for the Blackhawks, setting career-highs in goals (6), assists (18), points (24), PIM (116) and games played (76). He has also played in 21 career NHL playoff contests.

Lepisto, 24, recorded four assists in seven games with the Capitals last season. He also appeared in 70 games with Hershey of the American Hockey League (AHL) where he registered 4-38-42 to lead all Hershey defensemen in scoring. He also ranked T-3rd on the team with a +24 rating and 4th on the team with 38 assists. His 42 points ranked T-11th among all AHL defensemen. Prior to coming to North America for the 2007-08 season, Lepisto played four seasons of professional hockey in Finland for Jokerit. A native of Espoo, Finland, Lepisto played in seven games for Finland at the 2008 World Championship and won a bronze medal with Team Finland at the 2004 World Junior Championship. Lepisto was originally selected by Washington in the third round (66th overall) of the 2004 Entry Draft and has five assists in 14 career NHL games with the Capitals.

Heshka, 23, registered 3-23-26 with 25 PIM and a +17 rating in 77 games with Manitoba of the AHL last season. He ranked 2nd on the team in points among defenseman (26) and T-3rd on the team in plus/minus (+17). Heshka also collected five assists in 22 playoff games last season, helping Manitoba advance to the Calder Cup Finals. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Heshka has appeared in 211 career AHL games over three seasons with Manitoba, collecting 14-48-62 with 98 PIM and a +36 rating.

On Friday, the Coyotes selected Ekman-Larsson with the sixth overall pick. The 17-year-old appeared in 39 games with Leksand of Sweden’s second-highest professional league (Sweden-2), where he recorded 3-14-17 and 32 PIM last season. As the youngest player on his team, Ekman-Larsson also led the league with a +44 rating. The 6-foot-2, 176-pound native of Karlskrona, Sweden represented Team Sweden at the 2009 Under-18 World Championship, collecting 2-6-8 in six games, helping Sweden to a fifth place finish. In 2007-08, Ekman-Larsson played in 27 games for Tingsryd of the Swedish junior league (Sweden-3), recording 3-5-8 and 10 PIM.
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