GLENDALE -- Prospect Dennis Busby made such an impression on the Coyotes amateur scouting staff two seasons ago that the fact he missed almost all of last season because of injury did not prevent Arizona from selecting the defenseman near the middle of this year's draft last month in Dallas.
"He's an interesting kid," said Tim Bernhardt, the team's Director of Amateur Scouting. "We saw him somewhat as a 16-year old and we knew he was a player we've got to keep our eye on last year."
Busby, now 18, played just two games for the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League in 2017-18 because of an injured clavicle. He was healthy for the final few games of the season but sat out as precaution. More recently, Busby skated with Arizona's other prospects at the annual development camp at Gila River Arena.
"I had a pretty tough season so I'm excited for the future," Busby said. "It's hard to think about positives coming out of something like that, but I got to sit back and watch a lot of games, sit with management and talk to them, and see a lot of behind the scenes things you don't really think about as a healthy player. I got to look at things from a different point of view. That part of it was cool, for sure."
Busby, a right-handed blueliner, notched two goals and 14 assists in 62 games for Flint in 2016-17. It was a promising start to his junior hockey career.
"I'm a two-way defender and I like to take care of my own end first, but I also like to jump up into the play and create some offense when I can," Busby said.
The Coyotes like Busby's playing style and were impressed by his performance at Hockey Canada's summer camp a year ago, just before he suffered his injury at Flint's training camp. Canada ended up winning the tournament.
"We saw him early at the Canadian camp last summer," Bernhardt said. "He was very close to making the Ivan Hlinka (Memorial Tournament) team for Canada. He was one of the last cuts."
Busby grew up in Horseshoe Valley, a resort town north of Barrie, Ontario. He said he started playing hockey when he was about four years old. His older brother Matthew, also a defenseman, helped him develop a love for the game and their sibling rivalry helped him become a better player.
Busby, who won Flint's High School Excellence Award in 2016-17 thanks to a 4.0 grade-point average, was at home with family watching the NHL Draft via live stream. He said the feed they were streaming cut out around the time the Coyotes drafted him 145th overall so he missed seeing his big moment live; a friend quickly texted him the good news.
"It was an honor and a dream come true, but like everybody says being drafted is just the beginning," Busby said.