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NHL Draft

Coyotes won't sign Bleackley to entry-level contract

Arizona GM says supplemental draft pick 'more valuable asset'

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Red Deer forward Conner Bleackley can re-enter the 2016 NHL Draft after Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka confirmed Wednesday they will not sign the 2014 first-round pick to an entry-level contract. 

The deadline for Bleackley to sign a contract was Wednesday. As a result, Bleackley is eligible for the 2016 draft and the Coyotes will receive a 2016 supplemental second-round draft pick. The Coyotes now have eight picks in the draft, including two each in the first and second rounds.

The 2016 draft is at First Niagara Center from June 24-25.

"We're going to take the compensation pick," Chayka told NHL.com at the NHL Scouting Combine. "There's a lot of value in that pick. That's not to diminish anything Conner has done or the type of player he is. He had a good Memorial Cup. He's a good player, but at this point [the draft pick] is a more valuable asset for us."

The Colorado Avalanche selected Bleackley with the 23rd pick of the 2014 draft. He was traded to the Coyotes with forward Alex Tanguay and defenseman Kyle Wood for forward Mikkel Boedker on Feb. 29.

Bleackley, 20, had 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 55 games with Red Deer of the Western Hockey League this season.

Bleackley sustained a wrist injury when a skate blade severed tendons during the first period of a win against Edmonton on March 19. It was his second major injury of the season; he missed six weeks because of a broken left kneecap sustained Jan. 23.

The wrist injury was expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season, but Bleackley returned for all four games in the Memorial Cup held in Red Deer, Alberta, from May 20-29. He had two assists, a plus-4 rating and four shots on goal in the tournament.

"Hats off to him for returning to the lineup and playing well," Chayka said. "It's not easy to do, especially at a Memorial Cup level to come back off an injury like he had and perform the way he did. It's a pretty special thing, but we're in the business of maximizing assets, so that's our decision."

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