Coyotes ECHL prospects update

By Jeff Dahlia





With two dozen games in the book, the Idaho Steelheads head into the<br />Christmas Break sitting in second place in a tough ECHL Western Division





With two dozen games in the
book, the ECHL Idaho Steelheads head into the Christmas break sitting in second
place in a tough ECHL Western Division. The Steelheads are five points off the
division leading Bakersfield Condors.

While Idaho
tries to track down the Condors, they also have five teams nipping at their heels
in what has been a very tight points race out in the
west. Currently, the Steelheads have a total of four prospects playing upfront
in Idaho.
Here is a look at how they are doing so far, with comments from Head Coach John
Olver, as well as Coyotes Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman.

Frank Lukes, LW – Drafted 2001, 8th Round,
243rd overall

Between two short lived call-ups to Utah, Lukes has
been playing with an wide array of forwards. Coach Olver
has challenged him to step it up, but is still looking for the right line
chemistry where Lukes will be most effective.

Lukes started of the season playing a bit timid and
was too much of an east/west skater. With his confidence growing as of late, he
is becoming more north/south player and throwing the body a lot more. He has
impressed throughout the season at times with his blistering tape to tape
passes, heavy shot, skating ability and some great finishes.

Lukes understands his role more and more every day,
and he is beginning to find some consistency for the Steelheads. In order for Lukes to be more effective every night, he needs to more
persistent in the offensive zone, especially around the net rather than
expecting something to happen. He has the skill and ability to make things
happen and get the puck where it needs to be.

Head Coach John Olver said of Lukes, “I
would say that Frank is a guy that has struggled to find a groove within our
system. The biggest thing he has had trouble with is scoring. He has had great
chances and is converting his chances.

”I see him as a player that wants to create his offense by beating
opponents one on one. I encourage him to do that on certain situations. I think
until he realizes that he’s got to become just as dangerous without the
puck, he will continue to risk his chances at ever reaching his full potential.”

Coyotes
Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman said,
“In Frank Lukes, we
have a player who has a tremendous skill level. He already has the challenge
with his size, but he also has been inconsistent. The benefit of having him in
the ECHL, is so that he can gain that level of
consistency and bring that to the AHL and quite possibly to the NHL later on.”

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idaho

ECHL*

19

3

5

8

6

2

2004-05

Utah

AHL

5

0

0

0

0

0

* – on active roster


Landon Bathe, LW – Signed as Free Agent 2004

Bathe is becoming one of the best grinders on the Steelheads. He is proving to
be an extremely versatile forward with an above average skill set. He works
extremely hard on both ends of the ice and never quits.

In the offensive zone, Bathe is like a wrecking ball down low and in the
corners. He uses his body very well, but he needs to slow things down a bit if
he wants to be more of an effective stickhandler. He
is sticking to his assignments and doing a good job on the backcheck.
He has picked up the nickname “Lurch,” from the staff and fellow
teammates.

Olver said of Bathe, “He is a
two-way guy with a great work ethic. He is a high energy player that finishes
checks and who can back all that up too. He has also done an excellent job. He
seems to be getting stronger and improving more every day.”

Gilman
said of both Bathe and McLachlan,
[They] are niche players. They are
guys who are going to fill a role on the AHL or even possibly the NHL one day.
They are applying their trades. They are volatile players. They are going to go
through the trials and tribulations that physical players endure. We have been
really happy with their progress thus far. We feel that they are progressing
every day and that is exactly what we wanted to happen.”

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idaho

ECHL*

20

2

4

6

49

1

2004-05

Utah

AHL

1

0

0

0

2

0

* – on active roster


Darren McLachlan, LW – Acquired in a trade
with Boston Bruins 2004

McLachlan has been fighting the injury bug once
again, which has plagued him over the last few years. When he has been on the
ice, he is filling his enforcer role without any problem. Many are pleased with
his ability to fight and to his credit, he has some of
the most thunderous hands when it comes to scrapping.

Head Coach John Olver said of McLachlan,
“Mac has had a groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup for a
significant amount of time. As far as being a physical presence and playing the
enforcer role, I don’t think there has been a better guy in the league.
He has done a fantastic job.”

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idaho

ECHL

12

1

0

1

34

0

Ladislav Kouba,
LW
– Drafted 2002, 7th Round, 216th overall

Options for Kouba are quickly running out for the
winger from the Czech
Republic
. He continues to
struggle with adapting to the physical nature and speed at which hockey is
played in North America. He struggles simply
for ice time.

Off the ice, Kouba is another prospect that has had
his ice time cut due to health concerns. According to team officials, Kouba has been struck with two separate cases of strep
throat. He has missed a lot of games and continues to lose valuable time this
season.

When he gets healthy and back on track, he needs to focus and devoting himself
to the game, his team and Olver’s system. With
his size (6’3 -210 lbs) and ability, he should be a welcomed addition to
the Steelheads, but his season has been a complete wash so far.

As Gilman described it,
“he has had some unfortunate health issues that have precluded him from
playing consistently and of late.”

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idahl

ECHL

9

0

0

0

2

-1

 

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