Phoenix Coyotes 2001 NHL Draft Review

By Brandon LeBourveau
The Coyotes headed into the draft in great position to walk away with some top notch talents. Phoenix had a 1st rounder (14th overall), and three 2nd rounders (31st, 41st and 45th). But they did not stay in those exact positions for long.

Right after the Rangers selected Kootenay Ice (WHL) Goaltender Dan Blackburn with the 10th overall pick, Gary Bettman walked up to the podium and said those four famous words “We have a trade”. The trade involved the Phoenix Coyotes and the Calgary Flames. The Coyotes swapped their 1st round pick (14th overall), and a 2nd round pick (41st overall, acquired from Anaheim for Keith Carney) to the Flames for their 1st round pick (11th overall). With the 11th overall pick, Coyotes Owner Wayne Gretzky announced the club selected 6’0 198 pound winger Fredrik Sjostrom (Pronounced Shoe-Strum) from Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League.

“To meet Wayne [Gretzky], he was like an idol for me, so that was really great.” Said Fredrik Sjostrom moments after being drafted. When asked about his speed, he replied. “Yea, that’s my biggest asset, so I want to use my speed and my technique, that’s what I’m good at.”

Sjostrom’s style of play has been compared by many to that of Ottawa Senators’ rookie sensation Martin Havlat. Sjostrom, at 6’0 is arguably the best skater in the entire draft, and he can hit top speed in only one or two strides. An exciting player on the ice, he has good vision, hockey sense and playmaking abilities. He has a goal scorer’s touch, and he showed that this past season in many of the tournaments heavily scouted. One knock on Sjsostrom is that he is rather soft and that he will need to be more physical to be a star in the NHL. The Phoenix Coyotes’ scouts had him ranked fairly high, and that’s obvious if they dealt a 2nd round pick to move up three spots to nab him. Calgary selected Boston College winger Chuck Kobasew 14th overall, and Russian Andrei Tarutukhin 41st overall. In the end, I think the Coyotes will be very pleased with Fredrik Sjostrom.

Phoenix was on the board again with the first pick in the 2nd round, 31st overall. They opted to take an Alberta native in 6’5 210 pound defenseman Matt Spiller from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Spiller is a dominating, phsyical force on the ice, as he uses his size to his advantage. For a guy as big as he is, he is an excellent skater with great acceleration and lateral movement. Mainly a stay-at-home defenseman, Spiller’s decisions in the offensive zone need to improve. Spiller plays an emotional, high-energy type game and he could become a solid No. 4 defenseman in the NHL in a few years.

With their next selection, 45th overall, the Coyotes opted to take 6’6 200 pound Czech center Martin Podlesak from the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. Courtesy of Hockeysfuture and Jeff Arnim, “A huge player at 6-6 and 200 pounds, Podlesak has a big, smooth stride and is surprisingly strong on his skates, although his quickness and overall speed still need considerable work. With the puck he is very slick, with good hands and solid puck protection. He has good vision, coupled with good passing skills; he is good on the draw. Podlesak looks to pass over taking a shot himself, but works well in front of the net on deflections and rebounds. He has learned to make better use of his size, although he could stand to be stronger, and works very hard along the boards and in the corners. At this point his skating and lack of speed still need considerable work. Plays a style similar to: Nikolai Antropov.” I think this was a solid selection at 45th overall, although some good players were still on the board such as Russian Alexander Polushin. If you remember, the Coyotes received this pick for not signing Scott Kelman. So Martin Podlesak for Scott Kelman seems like a steal to me!

The Coyotes were not scheduled to pick in the 3rd round, but they made a trade with the New Jersey Devils, acquiring a 3rd rounder (78th overall, orginially the Coyotes pick) for their 4th round pick (112th overall) and a 3rd round pick in the 2002 Entry Draft. With the 78th overall pick, the Coyotes selected defenseman Beat Scheiss-Forster from Switzerland. He is a 6’1 209 pound defenseman who shoots left and played in the Swiss Junior League this past season.

In a move to bolster the youth of the franchise, the Coyotes dealt veteran defenseman Jyrki Lumme to the Dallas Stars in return for young forward Tyler Bouck, a gritty forward who would be perfect for the 3rd line.

Here is a rundown of all the Coyotes selections in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft:

PICK  PLAYER                POS   DOB       LEAGUE    PREV TEAM
11 Fredrik Sjostrom RW 6-May-83 Sweden Frolunda
31 Matthew Spiller D 07-Feb-83 WHL Seattle
45 Martin Podlesak C 26-Sep-82 WHL Lethbridge
78 Beat Scheiss-Forster D 2-Feb-83 Swiss Jr. Davos Jr.
148 David Klema C 03-Apr-82 USHL Des Moines
180 Scott Polaski RW 04-Aug-82 USHL Sioux City
210 Steve Belanger G 20-May-83 WHL Kamloops
243 Frantisek Lukes LW 25-Sep-82 OHL Toronto-St. Mike's
273 Severin Blindenbacher D 15-Mar-83 Swiss Kloten