The Phoenix Coyotes announced today that four of the team's top prospects (centers Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Blake Wheeler and defenseman Keith Yandle) have been ranked among The Hockey News' Top 50 Prospects in the publication's annual "Future Watch" edition. The Hockey News' Top 50 Prospects were selected by a panel of 22 NHL scouts. The Coyotes had more prospects named to the list than any other team in the NHL.
Mueller, 18, was ranked as the 7th best NHL prospect. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound center has had an outstanding season with Everett in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Mueller ranks tied for 5th in the WHL in scoring with 78 points (21 goals, 57 assists) in 51 games (fewer games than any player in the league's top 50 scorers). His 57 assists rank 2nd in the league.
Mueller, a native of Bloomington, Minnesota, also helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden. He ranked tied for 3rd on the team in scoring in the tournament with 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) in 7 games.
The Coyotes chose Mueller with the 8th overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Hanzal, 20, was ranked 30th on the list of top prospects by The Hockey News. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Hanzal has had a sensational rookie season in the WHL with Red Deer, ranking T-9th in the league in scoring with 75 points (23 goals, 52 assists) in 54 games. He ranks 5th in the league in assists. The Pisek, Czech Republic native leads all WHL rookies and his team in both scoring and assists.
Hanzal represented the Czech Republic at the 2007 World Junior Championships and registered 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games.
The Coyotes selected Hanzal with the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Wheeler, 20, was ranked as the 35th best NHL prospect by The Hockey News. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Wheeler ranks 3rd with the University of Minnesota with 13 goals and 4th on the team in scoring with 32 points in 37 games this season. The sophomore ranks 16th in the WCHA in scoring.
The Coyotes chose Wheeler, a native of Robbinsdale, Minnesota, with the 5th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Yandle, 20, was ranked 50th on The Hockey News' list of top prospects. The 6-foot-2, 195-poundYandle has recorded 6 goals, 18 assists, and 24 points in 55 games with San Antonio of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season to lead defensemen on the team in all three categories. The Boston, Massachusetts native was named to the PlanetUSA team for the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic in January.
Yandle was named the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Defenseman of the Year last season. He led all blueliners in the Canadian major junior leagues in scoring with 84 points (25 goals, 59 assists) in 66 games with Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Yandle was also honored as the QMJHL's Best Defenseman and named to the QMJHL First All-Star Team.
The Coyotes selected Yandle in the 4th round (105th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
With four prospects named on The Hockey News' Top 50 Prospects list, the Coyotes led all NHL teams. Only five other teams had as many as three prospects named while ten teams had two prospects on the list.