Phoenix selected two goalies, two forwards and one defenseman. The latter was Brandon Gormley
, whom the Coyotes grabbed on Friday night with their first pick in the first round/the 13th overall selection.
Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney and his staff were stunned Gormley, who was ranked within the top 10 in most mock drafts, still was available after 12 picks and gladly selected him. Some experts called it the steal of the draft.
Thinking they had no chance to draft Gormley, the Coyotes never interviewed him before this weekend.
“We had Gormley very high on our list and, quite frankly, we didn’t pay a ton of attention to him because we figured he would have been gone, in all candor, in the top five or six picks,” Maloney said. “We’re thrilled... He should be on the Canadian national junior team, he’s a good leader and he’s played in the Memorial Cup, so he’s 'found money'… It’s just the year of the Coyote, what can you say?”
Maloney said the Coyotes had a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers to move up from the 13th pick to the No. 8 pick, but that deal fell through after the Columbus Blue Jackets chose forward Ryan Johansen with the fourth overall pick. Maloney also tried to swing a deal with Anaheim to move up one pick in the first round, but that didn’t materialize and the Ducks selected defenseman Cam Fowler at No. 12. With Gormley still available at No. 13, the Coyotes pounced.
Maloney said there is no doubt Gormley will play in the NHL, it’s just a matter of when.
Gormley is a solid two-way defenseman with a knack for scoring power-play goals. He grew up in Murray River, PEI - the same town Tampa Bay Lightning star Brad Richards calls home. In fact, Richards’ sister Paige often babysat Gormley.
As to why he was available at No. 13, Gormley told the CBC the fact that he has asthma might have kept some teams from drafting him.
A few hours after drafting Gormley, the Coyotes made a trade with Montreal and moved from picking 22nd to picking 27th. With the 27th pick, the Coyotes raised eyebrows by selecting goalie Mark Visentin
, the fourth-ranked North American goalie in the draft. Even Visentin, who said he came to the first round mainly to watch some of his friends get drafted, was surprised by the pick.
“I was shocked,” Visentin said. “I didn’t expect to go in the first round at all. I came here with an open mind just trying to go out there and have some fun… When they called my name I was just in pure shock. I couldn’t believe it… At the same time, I can’t wait to get to Phoenix and prove that I belong. I’ve worked so hard for this and it finally feels like it’s paying off. I can’t wait to move forward.”
Maloney said the team's scouting staff has been high on Visentin for quite a while. Asked why they selected him over some of the other higher-rated goalies, Maloney said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… We like his size, (and) we like his athleticism.”
On Saturday, the Coyotes selected American winger Philip Lane
with the 52nd overall pick, Swedish center Oscar Lindberg with the 57th overall pick, and Canadian goalie Louis Domingue
with the 138th overall pick.
Now Maloney will turn his attention to free agency. If not re-signed by July 1, some key players, including Zbynek Michalek, Matthew Lombardi, Lee Stempniak and Derek Morris
, will become unrestricted free agents.
|Zbynek Michalek. Photo by Getty Images. |
Maloney said re-signing Michalek is the team’s top priority, but he also said he wants to re-sign the other players, too. Given the team’s league-mandated budget, it will be challenging.
“I would say I was a lot more optimistic about (re-signing them) a month ago,” Maloney said. “Now I’m not so sure. I’m not sure we can swing it given what we have available to us… We still have money available to us, we just can’t get to the (salary) levels that they want. But we’re still not going to give up hope until 11:59 on June 30.“
Maloney said he’s hoping the players will accept sub-market value salaries for the chance to stay in Phoenix and finish the turnaround the team started last season. In other words, he’s hoping they will sign for what he called “the family rate.”
to watch an interview with Don Maloney regarding free agency.
On final draft note: Luke Moffatt, who grew up in the Valley and played hockey for the DYHA, was drafted in the seventh round by the Colorado Avalanche. Click here
to watch an interview with Moffat after he was drafted.