Coyotes Update: Rookies Making An Impact

By Brandon LeBourveau

Three Phoenix Coyotes’ rookies (Ossi Vaananen, Wyatt Smith and Robert Esche)
have played important roles this season and have all contributed greatly to
the Coyotes’ success.

Ossi Vaananen, a tough as nails defenseman from Finland, has likely made the
biggest impact of the three. Drafted in the 2nd round in 1998,
Vaananen currently has 4 goals, 8 assists and 56 penalty minutes in 50 games
this season. He has played great defensively, knocking his opponents down in
front of the net and clearing the crease well. He has also chipped in on the
offense too in some games.

Wyatt Smith, a late round pick in 97, has played well as a role player this
season. The 23 year old center has 3 goals, 7 assists and 13 penalty minutes
in 41 games this season. He has worked hard every night and is an effective
forechecker. He’s more of a defensive forward, so the Coyotes consider any
offense from him a plus.

Robert Esche, a 6th round pick in 1996, has played 13 games this
season and has played really well. He has posted a 5-5-2 record with 1
shutout. He has a 3.30 Goals-against-average and a save percentage of .887
while also chipping in with 2 assists. He has played solid when the Coyotes
decided all-star netminded Sean Burke needed a rest.

All 3 of these players appear to have bright NHL futures some day. I have
taken them all off the top prospects lists and have moved them to the
“Graduated” section of the page.

News and Notes: Sheesh, it’s been a while since I updated this page. I
apologize for this greatly, as I guess I just didn’t have the time to update
it fluently. I think in the upcoming weeks I should have some extra time so I
will concentrate on fixing up this site a little bit. I somewhat re-did the
top 20 rankings, although I just threw this one together and will make a
complete, well thought out one in a couple of weeks hopefully.