Over the past two seasons, eight rookies have donned a Coyotes sweater. Listed below are 10 other prospects whom Coyotes fans should be keeping their eyes on, listed in alphabetical order.
Jonas Ahnelov – Defenseman – San Antonio Rampage (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 29 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 P, +1, 29 PIM
Ahnelov, a third-round selection in the 2006 NHL Draft, turned heads during the Coyotes training camp in September and was close to making the roster before breaking a finger in the second-to-last preseason game and starting the season on the injured-reserve list.
The native of Huddinge, Sweden, joined the San Antonio Rampage in early November, but he suffered a shoulder injury during a fight in early January. He hasn’t returned to the lineup since.
Ahnelov’s physical play and excellent speed are the key reasons Coyotes fans should be excited to see the young Swede play in the coming years.Maxim Goncharov – Defenseman – CSKA Moscow (KHL)2008-09 Statistics: 39 GP, 6 G, 6 A, 12 P, 42 PIM
Goncharov has raised his ranking in the organization this season by playing well as a top-four defenseman with CSKA of the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia. The fifth-round selection in the 2007 NHL Draft emerged as one of the best prospects in the organization with his play in the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships held in Ottawa.
During the two-week tournament, Goncharov was the best blueliner for bronze medalist Russia, and arguably in the tournament, notching five goals and an assist while being a +8. In a poll of the coaches, Goncharov was named one of the ‘Three Best Players Of Each Team’ for Russia.
Goncharov, who has an explosive shot that he displayed at the World Juniors tournament, is a speedy defenseman who isn’t afraid to join the offensive play. Chad Kolarik – Forward – San Antonio Rampage (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 45 GP, 12 G, 16 A, 28 P, -13, 11 PIM
In his first professional season since leaving the University of Michigan, Kolarik is having a good campaign with the San Antonio Rampage. Leading the team in scoring, Kolarik has been one of the main reasons for the Rampage’s mid-season turnaround. He has put up 16 points since Dec. 1, as the team went 15-7-1.
Kolarik had a great rookie camp with the Coyotes, but he was sent to San Antonio to establish confidence and it seems the seventh-round draft pick in the 2004 NHL Draft has done just that. Plus, the native of Abington, Penn., has feverishly worked on improving on his defense. Brett MacLean – Forward – San Antonio Rampage (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 43 GP, 11 G, 11 A, 22 P, +3, 19 PIM
MacLean, a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, has had a roller-coaster season in his first professional season. As a pure scorer who put up 219 points in his past two seasons with Oshawa in the Ontario Hockey League, MacLean has had a big adjustment to make in the American Hockey League. One bright area for MacLean has been his defensive responsibility. He is a +3 on a team that has allowed 35 more goals than it has scored.
Tied for fourth on the team in goal scoring with 11, MacLean will represent the Rampage at the AHL All-Star Game, playing for the Canadian team. MacLean needs to fill into his 6-foot-1 frame and add some muscle. At only 20, Coyotes fans can expect big things out of MacLean in the future.Kevin Porter – Forward – San Antonio Rampage (AHL)2008-09 Statistics (San Antonio AHL): 9 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 P, -3, 6 PIM
2008-09 Statistics (Phoenix NHL): 33 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 P, -1, 4 PIM
Porter started the season with the Coyotes after making the roster in his first professional training camp. The season started well for the native of Detroit, but with the call-ups of some other players, the Coyotes were having difficulties finding room in the lineup for Porter. As with most prospects, the Coyotes rather would have Porter playing every day in San Antonio than sitting in the press box in Glendale, and Porter has taken advantage of that.
Playing in all situations with the Rampage, Porter is adjusting to the professional game after playing in just 43 games with Michigan last season, a year in which he won the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate hockey player. The fourth-round pick in the 2004 NHL Draft has a bright future ahead with the Coyotes once the opportunity rises.Nick Ross – Defenseman – Vancouver Giants (WHL)2008-09 Statistics (Kamloops WHL): 40 GP, 4 G, 18 A, 22 P, 51 PIM
2008-09 Statistics (Vancouver WHL): 7 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 P, 11 PIM
It’s been an interesting season for the Coyotes’ second first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft. After having a strong camp, Ross was returned to his junior team in Kamloops of the Western Hockey League. After concentrating on consistency every night, something the Coyotes mentioned to Ross that was vital in his progression, Ross was traded at the WHL deadline to the Vancouver Giants, the top team in the Western League.
Since the trade, Ross has recorded five points in seven games and looks to be making a trip to the Memorial Cup. So far this season, Ross has improved his overall game, becoming more physical in the defensive zone while contributing points from the blue line. After signing an entry-level deal with the Coyotes in April 2008, look for Ross to contend for a spot on the blue line come September 2009.Jared Staal – Forward – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)2008-09 Statistics: 43 GP, 12 G, 24 A, 36 P, -7, 22 PIM
The fourth and last of the Staal brothers to be drafted, Jared was selected in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft. Staal has had a good season on an average Sudbury team that is fourth in its division. The native of Thunder Bay, Ontario, is second on his team in scoring.
This season, Staal has continued to fill into his 6-foot-3 frame while working on his skating, an area that is crucial to him making the NHL. His grit and determination are areas that are positives for him along with his ability to grind in the corners and score the “ugly goals.” Staal is a few years away from making the Coyotes.Michael Stone – Defenseman – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)2008-09 Statistics: 47 GP, 14 G, 29 A, 43 P, +29, 52 PIM
This season has been a breakout season for the third-round pick of the Coyotes in the 2008 NHL Draft. After only 55 points in 126 games over the past two seasons, Stone has put up 43 points in 47 games, while being accountable defensively with a +29 for the Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. One of the reasons why the Hitmen are first in the Eastern Conference is due to the defensive play of Stone.
A smooth skater with an excellent first pass, Stone has put himself on the Coyotes watch list. Not known for his offense, Stone will surprise some people with his shot from the blue line, which has accounted for 10 power-play goals this season, and his overall hockey smarts. Chris Summers – Defenseman/Forward – Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)2008-09 Statistics: 24 GP, 3 G, 8 A, 11 P, 28 PIM
Summers, named the interim captain of the Michigan Wolverines after Anaheim prospect Mark Mitera tore an ACL in the first game of the year, has had an interesting season. Used in a split role between forward and defense by Wolverines Head Coach Red Berenson, the first-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft has had to lead a completely different team than the one that made the Frozen Four last season. Summers has embraced his new role and has scored 11 points in 24 games, almost beating his totals of the past two seasons (14 and 13).
Summers, who is a junior at Michigan, is a versatile player who can play forward or defenseman. Josh Tordjman – Goaltender – San Antonio Rampage (AHL)2008-09 Statistics: 33 GP, 16-15-1, 2.57 GAA, .910 SV%, 4 SO
It’s been a wacky season for Tordjman. After starting it with the Rampage in a split-starting role with Al Montoya, Tordjman won the starting job in December and has led the team to a 15-7-1 since Dec. 1. He also earned his first recall to the Coyotes. Although he didn’t appear in a game with Phoenix, Tordjman continued his stellar season between the pipes leading the Rampage to respectability after a slow start to the season.
Tordjman is considered the team’s most-ready goaltending prospect at the moment, and would be recalled again in any emergency. Signed as a free agent in 2006, Tordjman has climbed the goaltending depth charts unexpectedly and continues to improve in San Antonio with the help of Director of Prospect Development and former Coyotes goaltender Sean Burke.
A few other prospects to monitor closely are Kelowna Rockets forward Colin Long
, San Antonio defenseman David Schlemko
, and Cape Breton Eagles defenseman Mathieu Brodeur
Editor’s note: All statistics are current as of 01/22/09.