Another season has passed, and another first round loss for the Phoenix Coyotes. Most people point out that Jeremy Roenick wasn’t 100% after the vicious elbow he received from Derian Hatcher of the Dallas Stars. But the fact of the matter is they were beaten by a St. Louis team that was hungrier and worked harder than they did. If Phoenix would like to be considered among the elite of the Western Conference they need to develop a killer instinct and inject new blood in their lineup, especially at forward.
Unfortunately, their cupboard is very dry when it comes to forward prospects and the number of them who can make an impact in the NHL. Among the young players that were involved in the playoffs, only Shane Doan seemed to make significant contributions. Both Juha Ylonen and Daniel Briere were invisible on the ice, as they were for most of the season. Because of their promise, Bobby Smith decided to give Cliff Ronning for virtually nothing. Once it was obvious that the two youngsters couldn’t handle the number two center position, he panicked and gave up Brad Isbister, a young power, for free agent Robert Riechel. Riechel now plans to return to the Czech Republic to take an assistant coach/player job for the national team.
In their system, only Trevor Letowski seems primed to make an impact at forward with the team in the next couple years. There is nobody up front with sufficient size that can make a contribution in near future. They are very strong at stay-at-home defensemen and goaltender prospects and maybe thinking of trading from those obvious strengths to plug some gaping holes in their system. It will be very surprising if the Coyotes don’t decide to heavily draft forwards in the upcoming selection of prospects.
Listed below are the top ten prospects in the Coyotes organization. Along with the ranking, I have listed the player’s chance to make it to the NHL, their projected role, season stats, a comparable player, and a few comments on their development. Also listed are some of the other prospects and their statistics for the past year. One note on the rankings, a player’s chance to make the NHL and their projected role are based on their performance. Players, like Dan Focht and Patrick Desrochers, have struggled in the past year and thus have dropped in their ratings. However, they are very capable of returning to their past form and thus moving up in the pecking order in the organization.