Coyotes ECHL prospects season review

By Jeff Dahlia

The 2004-05 season in the ECHL Western Division was a very intense and challenging atmosphere for the Coyotes prospects. Playing under their new affiliation agreement with the Idaho Steelheads, Phoenix sent four players to Boise at the beginning of the year to further their development under head coach John Olver.

While things didn’t seem to go as planned for the prospects, the Steelheads were able to get back into the post season. Idaho’s playoff run was short lived as they met an equally tough and hungry Long Beach in the first round. The Ice Dogs sent the Steelies packing early, ending the 2004 Kelly Cup Champions’ title defense.

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

The crafty winger took quite a while to find a groove in Boise. Lukes possesses great skill and talent, but he has a hard time executing on a consistent basis. He was totally ineffective in his call-up’s to the Utah Grizzlies throughout the season, but caught fire with Idaho towards the end of the season and played some excellent hockey during their stretch run.

Lukes is a very good skater who has great hands, vision and anticipation, but his play away the puck early on was very suspect. He seemed very timid to use the body, which was corrected towards the end of the regular season. He wasn’t the biggest guy out on ice and he took his bumps accordingly but he became more aware of how to absorb hits and throw his weight to dish out some improved checks.

Lukes really needs to decide what he wants out of his North American hockey career. As the years have whittled away for the 22-year-old, he is starting to face a high risk of being a career minor leaguer if he doesn’t get his act together quickly.

Looking back to last summer right before the season started, getting demoted to the ECHL because of the lockout more then likely put a kink in his mental armor. He has to get things together and come back strong next season if he wants to prove he is worth a second contract. He needs a push and he has to look to himself or the next push might be out the door.

Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Utah Grizzlies

AHL

12

0

2

2

20

3

2004-05

Idaho Steelheads*

ECHL

59

18

22

40

30

15

Landon Bathe, LW – Signed as Free Agent 2004

Landon Bathe injured his back a couple months into the 2004-05 season and missed significant time. He would return to play out the last two games of the regular season, but missed getting into the playoffs for the Steelheads.

Bathe needs to duplicate the big summer he had last season, which landed him a contract with the franchise. When he played early on this season, he showed a blend of average talent and dazzling toughness. He is a quick learner and adapted well to Olver’s system. At this point in his development, he shows he can be an effective grinder with little offensive pop. He’s definitely a niche player that can work his way up through the system, but because of the lost time, he is on the outside looking in.

Nevertheless, he has a lot of work in front of him, but the New Englander has the right character and work ethic you want out of a player. He is someone that Phoenix might show some patience in. All he needs to do is get healthy and get ready to string some good months together when 2005-06 starts up.


Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Utah Grizzlies

AHL

1

0

0

0

0

0

2004-05

Idaho Steelheads

ECHL

30

2

4

6

63

-5

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

Big Mac has been a favorite wherever he has been in his young career for the sheer fact he can fight. When he saw time with the Steelheads, it was sparse if that, but more times then not, he did his talking with his fists. He isn’t gun shy on the attack. A problem from here on out might be his ice time being cut back and hurting him from getting into a rhythm.

McLachlan is yet another player who needs to have a great off-season and get healthy as he could become expendable if fellow prospect Kevin Cormier continues to improve his came in junior. The two are very similar, however, Cormier tends to be a bit less injury-prone.


Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idaho Steelheads

ECHL

24

1

1

2

59

-1

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

After having a decent training camp with the Grizzlies, Kouba was reassigned to the Steelheads to start out the season. He only stuck ten games with Idaho before disappearing. He got into Olver’s doghouse and earned a demotion straight to the CHL (Central Hockey League).

Kouba has had tendencies to play on the lackadaisical side or very uninspired, which makes the pairing a mismatch given the style and tempo game Olver plays. It is becoming apparent Kouba is becoming very irrelevant in the scope of things for Phoenix.


Season

Team

League

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

2004-05

Idaho Steelheads

ECHL

10

0

0

0

2

-1

2004-05

New Mexico Scorpions*

CHL

30

6

11

17

24

15

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