Michael Stone, D – Calgary Hitmen
Acquired: 3rd round, 69th overall, 2008
June 7th, 1990, 6’4, 207 lbs.
Stone was an integral part of a Calgary Hitmen team that made it all the way to the WHL finals last season. He finished sixth in scoring on Calgary then and was only behind Paul Postma among production from the blueline. With Postma off to the AHL, Stone has become the leader of the defensive unit and is currently second in scoring, and first in goal scoring on the team this season with 13 goals and 11 assists and a +2 in 26 games.
Stone has all the size to be an anchor in his own zone as well as the skill to help the offense. His eight power-play goals are tied for third in the entire WHL. He has become one of the deadliest threats on the blueline in the CHL this season without lacking anything in his own zone.
Justin Weller, D – Red Deer Rebels
Acquired: 4th round, 105th overall, 2009
July 26th, 1991, 6’3, 203 lbs.
The defensive prospect pool for the Coyotes has a lot of size, which will help to shut down many of the elite power forwards in the Pacific division. Weller was drafted to be a big part of that.
He is not going to help out offensively by any stretch of the imagination. He won’t try to be fancy, but he will take the body whenever he can. He’s unafraid to be physical and will make the right decision to get the puck out of harm’s way. The Red Deer Rebels are not winning a lot of games this season, and their defense seems to let them down at times. As the rock on the blueline, Weller is often asked to clean up mistakes for his partners which does not always turn out so well. His -7 could certainly be better.
Evan Bloodoff, LW – Kelowna Rockets
Acquired: 6th round, 157th overall, 2009
November 21st, 1990, 5’11, 190 lbs.
Bloodoff was coming off a good season when he was drafted. Though he made his living as a speedy agitator with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, he scored 12 goals and added another nine assists to go along with his 21 penalty minutes in 2008-09. He does not have all the size in the world, but he uses his speed to create opportunities off of energetic fore-checking.
Disaster struck for Bloodoff before he even got a chance to skate during the 2009-10 campaign. He partially tore his right ACL toward the end of last season, but his rehab seemed to be going well this summer. He re-aggravated it before playing a single regular-season game and is now sidelined while going through more extensive rehabilitation. With his completely torn ACL, rehab could be up anywhere from four to six months, meaning that Bloodoff will be missing a lot of crucial development time with the Rockets.
Jared Staal, RW – Sudbury Wolves
Acquired: 2nd round, 49th overall, 2008
August 21st, 1990, 6’4, 198 lbs.
The youngest of the Staal brothers, Jared, has skating and puck-handling that require work, but Staal knows something about hard work. He uses his size and physicality well to fight for pucks along the boards.
His offensive game is slowly improving thanks to his work ethic. In 23 games so far he has netted six goals and 17 assists. At the same time, on one of the bottom teams in the OHL, he is managing with a -3, better than many of his teammates. Still, the Sudbury Wolves have scored the second fewest goals in the league, and Staal, despite his gains in production, has not been able to jumpstart their lackluster offense.
Jordan Szwarz, RW – Saginaw Spirit
Acquired: 4th round, 97th overall, 2009
May 14th, 1991, 5’11, 186 lbs.
In many regards, Szwarz is becoming a smaller version of Jared Staal. He does not have the offensive skill set to help carry his team to victory, but the Saginaw Spirit do not need him to fill that role. Instead he is able to use his energy to benefit the team in other ways, and unlike Staal, he is fairly solid on his skates when he gets into stride.
Szwarz is developing into a perfect utility forward for the Spirit and can do just a bit of everything. He is also doing a little bit better offensively this season than last with 10 goals and 10 assists in 23 games.
Tim Billingsley, D – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Acquired: 7th round, 189th overall, 2008
January 17th, 1990. 6’1, 185 lbs.
Billingsley looked like a possible seventh-round steal when the Coyotes drafted him in 2008.
Then last season he had an major setback, finishing with only eight total assists and a poor -12. So far this season he seems to be doing decently, but for someone who is supposed to be able to move the puck, his goal and two assists through 21 games played are very telling. He is +3 on a very plus team.
Mathieu Brodeur, D – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Acquired: 3rd round, 76th overall, 2008
June 21st, 1990, 6’6, 204 lbs.
Cape Breton currently sits in second place in the Atlantic Division of the QMJHL, and despite being far behind Saint John, they are having a fairly good season. With plenty of points coming from their blueline, the Screaming Eagles do a very good job of getting offense from many different sources. Brodeur is a stay at home defenseman with a goal and six assists in 24 games played this season.
This year he has gotten better at using his size on the blueline, but his even plus/minus also puts him behind those other five defensemen in that category as well. Despite comparisons to his teammates, he is not having a bad 2009-10 campaign. Instead, he seems to be finding his niche as someone who can use his size to keep pucks out of the net rather than putting them in.