Rumblings in the Desert

By Brandon LeBourveau
The Coyotes’ 1st Round pick in the 2000 Draft, center Krystofer Kolanos from Boston College, is telling the team he would like to sign a contract and leave school for the pro ranks. Although Kolanos has not hired an agent yet, he said with the transition period the Coyotes are going through and the influx of young players they are bringing in, the time is right to leave school. NCAA rules strictly state that while attending college, players can not hire agents nor participate in training camp with any teams. Kolanos is going to try and work out a contract with the Coyotes without the help of an agent, so if the deal falls through, he can still remain with BC.

If Kolanos is signed to a deal, he has the talent to make this team right out of training camp. He capped off an excellent season with Boston College, registering 25 goals and 25 assists in 41 games. Being cut from the Canadian team for the 2001 World Junior Championships was a huge disappointment for Krys, but he capped off his excellent season in dynamic fashion by scoring the game winning goal against North Dakota on a nifty deke in overtime to win the NCAA Championship for Boston College. A season in the minors would definitely help him get accustomed to the faster-paced NHL game, but coming out of college Kolanos has an advantage over players in junior hockey, as college players play against older competition in 24 and 25 year olds, while also playing responsibly defensively, since there is no red-line in college hockey, meaning teams can make two-line passes leading to lots of breakaways. It will be interesting to see how this situation pans out in the upcoming weeks.

In other contract news, the Phoenix Coyotes have signed 21 year old center Peter Fabus, who was selected in the 9th Round (281st Overall) of the 2000 NHL Draft. Fabus is a gritty, tenacious center who scored 31 goals and added 22 assists in 52 games with Dukla Trencin of the Slovak Elite League, while also totaling 94 penalty minutes. In 14 playoff games, Fabus had 4 goals, 6 assists and 60 penalty minutes. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Peter is a tenacious player with touch around the net,” Coyotes general manager Cliff Fletcher said. “Down the road, we feel that Peter has the potential to be a solid NHL contributor.”

Players who were recently re-signed include center Daniel Briere, defenseman Todd Simpson and minor league scoring ace Jean-Guy Trudel. Briere and Simpson accepted their one-year qualifying offers, while Trudel received a one year deal, but financial terms were not disclosed.

Todd Simpson was brought in at the deadline last season to provide stability and leadership to a young defense. The team acquired him from Florida in return for a 2nd round pick in the 2001 Draft (Florida later traded the pick to New Jersey, who selected Igor Pohanka). With Jyrki Lumme shipped off to Dallas, Simpson, along with veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen, will need to provide leadership to the influx of young defenseman expected to make the team this season, as well as the young ones from last year. Among them include Ossi Vaananen and Radoslav Suchy, who were with the team last season, Paul Mara and Danny Markov, who were acquired in trades, and then such prospects as Kiril Safronov, who have worked their way up the pro ranks and are ready for the NHL.

As for Daniel Briere, it is a make-it or break-it year for the young center. After struggling early in the season last year, the Coyotes took a chance by putting Briere on waivers, so they could send him down to the AHL. Surprisingly, no one took a chance on the young center, and Daniel went down to Springfield to get some playing time. When he was re-called later in the season, he went on a tear, and finished the season off strong and on a very high note, scoring 11 goals in 30 games. Briere needs to start this season where he left off, and if he struggles again, he could find himself traded to another organization. The team has been patient with the former 1996 1st Round pick, but Briere has not been able to make an impact consistently in the NHL. This situation will also be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

In other news, there are whispers that Michael Barnett, who is the agent for such players as Jaromir Jagr and Brett Hull, and also such Coyotes’ in Shane Doan and Ossi Vaananen, will step in as General Manager with the Coyotes before training camp. In this rumor, current GM Cliff Fletcher will step down and continue in his role of executive vice president, which he owned until being appointed GM in February. Barnett was also the former agent for Coyotes’ Owner Wayne Gretzky, and the two still maintain a great friendship. If this move is made, it won’t be a first for a player agent turned GM. Pierre Lacroix of the Colorado Avalanche and Brian Burke of the Vancouver Canucks were agents before becoming General Managers. I’m not sure what to expect if Barnett does become GM, but one thing for sure is the current GM, Cliff Fletcher, along with head scout Dave Draper, have done a great job rebuilding this franchise through trades and the entry draft. Only time will tell.

News and Notes: Expect more Coyotes’ updates throughout the remainder of the month. I am working on updating everything here at the Coyotes’ section at Hockeysfuture.com, including updating every prospects profile, as well as changing the top prospect rankings, changing the ratings for every prospect, and updating the organization strength and weaknesses. Also, in August, Hockeysfuture plans to make new organizational rankings, and the Coyotes should be in the top 5, for sure! So, let’s all hope we can shoot for the top spot in the rankings! Before I go, I want to thank Stephen Ransley for getting me to update the Coyotes’ page for the 1st time in about a month. Thanks to Stephen, I will be updating a lot more in the future! Have a great week everyone and make sure to keep checking back to Hockeysfuture for future updates!