2010 NHL Draft: Arizona Coyotes patient with 2010 draft class

By David Hahn
Brandon Gormley - Arizona Coyotes

Photo: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Brandon Gormley has played in 32 NHL games to date, picking up two goals and four points in those games (courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

They had not yet formulated as the Arizona Coyotes in 2010, and their scouting staff was geared more towards drafting for immediate need, rather than best player available. Often a time of renewal and hope, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft originally presented the Coyotes with only four picks, and adding prospects to a depleted prospect pool became their focus.

 
Highly regarded as a top five pick by draft pundits, Brandon Gormley fell to 13th overall, generally referred to as a blessing for the Coyotes, who desperately needed a game-breaker at that time. With talented forwards Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Nick Bjugstad still on the board, the talent-starved team opted to make the safe pick, ending Gormley’s tumble. Possessing another first round pick, General Manager Don Maloney parlayed that into a trade with Montreal in exchange for the Canadiens’ 27th and 57th picks, adding a fifth and final selection to their arsenal.

With all due respect to the goaltenders in the Coyotes system at the time, names like Al Montoya, Josh Tordjman, Brett Bennett, and Scott Darling, the group was lacking a top-flight goaltending prospect and they appeared to solve that dilemma early. Late in the first round, the Coyotes used the first pick acquired from Montreal to take Niagara’s Mark Visentin and bookended that selection with Louis Domingue, the netminder who played behind Gormley in Moncton.

Sandwiched between those two, the Coyotes added a pair of gritty, two-way forwards, in Philip Lane from Brampton and Oscar Lindberg from Skelleftea’s junior program. Neither player brought an offensive touch to the table, perhaps disappointing considering that management opted to take care of goaltending first.

Overall, Maloney has shown patience and allowed players time to develop, rarely rushing prospects and putting them in situations they are not prepared for. However, that patience can be to a fault, as the expectations and organizational pressure placed on them to succeed have left players toiling in the AHL beyond their expiration date.

These five draft picks have played a grand total of 40 games in the NHL, and perhaps the organizational philosophy of drafting for immediate need has shifted. There’s no doubt that they have done better in recent years, but the Coyotes 2010 draft will be remembered just as long as the Coyotes have waited for these players to break through to the NHL.

1st Round, 13th Overall, Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 32

Anyone who put together a mock draft in 2010 had Brandon Gormley somewhere within their top ten. Those organizations had different plans, as the Coyotes were faced with a situation where they were almost forced into this pick. The top draft-eligible player from the QMJHL, he was regarded as a solid, all-around defenseman, who played a steady, simple game. Gormley guided Moncton to a QMJHL Championship in 2009-10, which only helped his draft stock, resulting in Phoenix picking him up.
He returned to Moncton for two more seasons, and was entrusted with big minutes and an offensive role. During these two seasons, Gormley was a point-per-game producer, and again appeared in the Memorial Cup, winning it in 2011-12. That season saw Gormley participate in the World Junior Championships for Canada, who finished with a disappointing bronze medal. That tournament was his coming out party, as the Murray River, PEI native finished it with the most goals and points by a defenseman, resulting in a berth on the All-Star squad and designation as the tournament’s best defenseman.

Since that assignment, Gormley hasn’t deviated from his game or added any new dimensions to it, perhaps one reason why he hasn’t been entrusted with a full-time job yet. He has been steady with Portland, but hasn’t displayed that killer instinct you’d like to see from a player with his pedigree.
This season, the Coyotes opted for a defense-by-committee approach, employing 11 defenseman who played at least 17 games. Among them, prospects like John Moore, Klas Dahlbeck, and Chris Summers battled organizational depth such as Andrew Campbell and David Schlemko for playing time. The big story came near the trade deadline, when Keith Yandle was traded to the New York Rangers, which provided big skates to fill.

Looking ahead, with Yandle in New York, and a logjam of prospects who will need to pass through waivers, Gormley among them, there will be one final opportunity to earn a full-time job. The Coyotes have been patient with him, maybe too much so for a team who has not been in the playoff picture lately.

1st Round, 27th Overall, Mark Visentin, G, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 1

Phoenix traded down five spots with Montreal, and the first of the picks acquired went to take trendy goaltender Mark Vistentin. With American Jack Campbell off the board to Dallas, the Coyotes opted to fix a long-assessed standard problem within the organization by taking a steady, capable goaltender.
At just 17 years-old, Visentin was regarded as a leader with a young, improving Niagara squad, who often relied upon him to maintain some semblance of competitiveness, as the team was transitioning with one of the youngest squads in the OHL. That said, he was considered as more of a long-term project over other 2010 options like Calvin Pickard and Kent Simpson.

Despite the projection, Visentin shrugged off his critics and continued to get better with each consecutive season in Niagara. Over three seasons as a full-time starting goaltender, Visentin dropped his goals-against average from 2.99 in his draft year, to 2.52 and eventually finished his career with a 1.99 mark, the best goals-against average in the league. Likewise, his save-percentage started at .911 but improved to .917 and finished at .926, certainly a positive sign that Vistentin was developing as expected, perhaps ahead of the curve offered by his peers selected that year.

His transition to professional hockey was a simple, yet effective one. He worked on his positioning and rebound control with former NHL goaltender Sean Burke, who imparted his wisdom and thought process on the willing-to-learn Visentin.

Unfortunately, Visentin suffered a freak injury in training camp and missed the 2014-15 season after ankle surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery, and should return to form as the Coyotes’ top goaltending prospect.

2nd Round, 52nd Overall, Philip Lane, RW, Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Nearing the conclusion of the second round, the Coyotes opted to go with Philip Lane, who never really offered much in the way of offensive production. With that said, Lane was the type of player everyone loves to have on their team, but hates to play against, still a valuable asset and necessary commodity in today’s NHL.

Lane was a bit of a late-bloomer, arriving in the OHL one year later than most players his age. With Brampton, Lane finished his checks and was a noted pugilist, often defending teammates and towing the line between physicality and overboard aggression. He never surpassed 41 points in his time with the Battalion, opting to provide the Troops with a consistent effort as a role player, perhaps realizing what he would need to do in order to make it at the next level.

His entry-level contract awaited him, and so too did regular playing time in Portland. In his first AHL season, Lane finished with 14 goals, 8 assists, and 61 penalty minutes. From there, Lane struggled with the pace of the league after a pair of minor injuries slowed his progression. He has been in and out of the Pirates lineup, and has yet to make his NHL debut.

While he may yet still have a role in the NHL waiting for him, Lane will need to overcome concerns about his game in order to make it there. With a second round pedigree backing him, it’s hard to assess this pick as anything but disappointing.

Watch this 2010 NHL Draft Look Back video featuring Arizona Coyotes draftees Mark Visentin and Phil Lane.

2nd Round, 57th Overall, Oscar Lindberg, C, Skelleftea Jr (Swe-2)
Status: Prospect (New York Rangers)
NHL Games Played: 0

Just five picks after the selection of Lane, the Coyotes again went to the well and selected Skelleftea center Oscar Lindberg. The slick Swede was ranked seventh among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into the draft, so his availability was a bit of a surprise. Like many Swedish centers, Lindberg is adept in his own zone, and led the Swedish junior league in faceoff percentage in consecutive seasons leading into his draft year.

Lindberg flirted with leaving Sweden for the KHL or perhaps a stint in junior hockey in the CHL, but ultimately returned to Skelleftea and was assigned to their senior squad. His offensive game stalled out after two full years in the SHL, as concerns over his skating stride came to the forefront. The Coyotes apparently gave up on him, and were reportedly concerned whether or not Lindberg would sign with them. As a result, he was traded to the New York Rangers following the 2011 season in exchange for Ethan Werek.

Lindberg returned to the SHL for two more seasons, but eventually signed with the Rangers and reported to their AHL affiliate in Hartford. There, he has scored 100 points in two full AHL seasons, and looks to be one of the Rangers top bottom-six options moving forward, not the best news for the Coyotes scouting staff, who were unable to tap into his potential and lure him to North America themselves.

5th Round, 138th Overall, Louis Domingue, G, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 7

The scouting staff had to be jumping at the bit, as a long three-round wait kept them from making their final selection in the 2010 draft. They used that on another CHL goaltender, opting to take Louis Domingue, a teammate of their prized first-round pick Brandon Gormley.

While the draft position suggests otherwise, Domingue carried himself well despite limited playing time in his draft-eligible season. That problem was solved thanks to a midseason trade to the Quebec Remparts, where Head Coach Patrick Roy accurately assessed his talents and immediately rewarded Domingue’s patience with a starting role. He initially struggled with Quebec, but often rose to the occasion, resulting in two long playoff runs. The accolades continued for Domingue, adding a gold-medal from the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament to his nomination to play in the Subway Super Series and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

As a professional, the Quebec native has bounced around between Portland and the Gwinnett Gladiators, the Coyotes’ ECHL affiliate. However, the team dealt Devan Dubnyk to the Minnesota Wild, opening up a spot to evaluate Domingue at the NHL level. That opportunity presented itself in Montreal, where family and friends from Saint-Hyacinthe watched as he rallied the Coyotes to a 3-2 win.

It was a storybook debut for Domingue, who made a handful of appearances before ultimately finishing his season back in Portland. Arizona’s future in net looks questionable, but it’s not an unrealistic idea that Domingue might find himself in the NHL ahead of Visentin, as soon as next season.