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Coyotes upgrade via deal and Draft

by John Kreiser

OTTAWA -- The Phoenix Coyotes were one of the biggest players at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, using trades and a pair of first-round picks to bolster their offense.
The Coyotes made the Draft's biggest trade on a wild Friday night, acquiring center Olli Jokinen from Florida for defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, plus a second-round pick. The deal brings Phoenix a proven 30-goal scorer to anchor its first line and take some pressure off younger players like Peter Mueller.
"We're thrilled," GM Don Maloney said of the deal, as well as his haul in the Draft. "We need a big body to go up against some of the big centers in our division. This also lets some of our young kids mature with a little less pressure. I just think we got better this weekend."

The Coyotes also wound up with another first-round pick when they dealt a pair of second-rounders to get the No. 28 choice, which they used to select Russian forward Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Soviet coach.

Here's a look at the Coyotes' 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:

No. 8, Mikkel Boedker, LW, Kitchener (OHL) - There's a lot to like about Boedker, a Danish native who helped Kitchener to the Memorial Cup title game this past season.
He had 29 goals and 73 points in 69 games with the Rangers, then finished second in playoff scoring with 35 points. He was the runner-up in the OHL Rookie of the Year balloting. At 5-11 and 195 pounds, he's a good power-play quarterback as well.

No. 28, Viktor Tikhonov, C, Cherepovets (Russia) - Few players in this draft can boast the bloodlines of Tikhonov, who is the grandson of the famous coach of the Soviet National Team in its heyday.
The younger Tikhonov, the only 20-year-old taken in the opening round, had seven goals and 12 points in 43 games with Cherepovets of the Russian League. He also had five goals and seven points in helping Team Russia to a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.

Tikhonov, who holds Russian and U.S. passports, needs to improve his skating, but was among the most improved players in the Russian League last year and could become a solid second-line forward for the Coyotes.

No. 49, Jared Staal, RW, Sudbury (OHL)
- Staal has the bloodlines to be a solid NHL player. His brothers Eric (Carolina), Jordan (Pittsburgh) and Mark (New York Rangers) were all first-round selections and have justified their status. Jared, a 6-3, 198-pound forward, isn't quite as highly regarded, but had 21 goals and 49 points in 60 games for the Wolves.

No. 69, Michael Stone, D, Calgary (WHL) - At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Stone was a top-four defensemen for the Hitmen under former NHL center Kelly Kisio. He saw time on special teams, moves the puck well and makes good decisions in his own zone. Stone improved from two goals to 10 and from 20 points to 35 in his second WHL season. He'll almost certainly go back for a third season this fall.

No. 76, Mathieu Brodeur, D, Cape Breton (QMJHL) - Though he's 6-5 and 190 pounds, Brodeur isn't a very physical defenseman, but he plays with poise and confidence with the puck.

Brodeur, drafted on his 18th birthday, was voted Cape Breton's most-improved player this season after going 1-6-7 in 69 games.

No. 99, Colin Long, C, Kelowna (WHL) - Long isn't big (5-11 and 186 points) but he produced big-time with the Rockets, finishing second in the WHL scoring race with 100 points, including 31 goals.

No. 159, Brett Hextall, C, Pentincton (BCHL) - Hextall has the chance to be the first fourth-generation NHL player. The 20-year-old center is the son of former Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall, grandson of Bryan Hextall Jr. and great-grandson of 1930s and 1940s Rangers star Bryan Hextall Sr. He had 24 goals and 72 goals with Pentincton.
No. 189, Tim Billingsley, D, Mississaugua St. Michael's (OHL) - Billingsley had five goals and 22 assists in his first season in the OHL. At 6-1 and 177 pounds, he'll have to get bigger and stronger if he hopes to play in the NHL.

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