Heading into Ottawa this weekend for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Phoenix Coyotes had two specific gaps that existed on their depth charts. They needed to focus on adding big, skilled forwards, as well as another solid goaltending prospect.
Guided by their new Director of Player Personnel, Tom Kurvers, the Coyotes staff did just that. With their five selections, a well-devised plan and much enthusiasm, Phoenix went on to select three colossal forwards and a promising goaltender. They were also able add in a versatile two-way defenseman.
Martin Hanzal, C
1st round (17th overall), 6’4, 198, Budejovice (Czech)
A consensus mid-round selection, the Coyotes grabbed Czech Martin Hanzal with their first pick at 17th overall. The tall, skilled forward has steadily progressed within the Budejovice system. He was by far the best player on his local junior squad with 44 points in 37 games, and was promoted to play with the big club.
Hanzal also played extremely well at the 2005 IIHF World U-18 Championships. He went on to score 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists), and had 10 penalty minutes in seven games played. He was the team’s top scorer and showed when it mattered most that he could be the team’s go-to guy.
Tom Kurvers on Martin Hanzal
On what type of player the Coyotes got with their first overall pick… “He’s a highly rated player who has played at an excelled level in a part of the world that hockey that is a very important part of life. Hanzal is a great athlete and he is in good physical shape. He has some physical developing to do, but he is on his way. He’s a big forward that I feel can play both center and wing. Those are the type of players you would like to base your team around.”
On his upside and future potential… “He has potential as a front line player and quite possibly a top line player. His size and skating ability are a mix that shows he has hockey sense. He does things away from the puck, so it’s not just a puck game with him. He has a game that has a whole different dimension to it. As a big player, he has some advantages, but most notably he skates very well.”
Pier-Olivier Pelletier, G
2nd round (59th overall), 6’1, 175, Drummondville (QMJHL)
The Coyotes made Pier-Olivier Pelletier the sixth overall goaltender selected in this year’s draft and the first out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
While some might look at his .894 save percentage and 3.01 GAA and question the pick, a lot of scouts feel the young netminder is on the rise. Goalies develop at a whole different pace, and the important thing is not where he is now, but where he’s going. He started the 2004-05 season as a backup on the Drummondville Voltigeurs, but steadily made his way into the starting position. From there, he went on to play backup to Carey Price (5th overall by Montreal) for Team Canada at the 2005 IIHF World Under-18 Championships.
Tom Kurvers on Pier-Olivier Pelletier
What the Coyotes staff liked most about the netminder…“He’s a winner. He played more than expected this past season and outperformed his teammate. He was only going to be a backup this past season, but he stepped in and took over for his team. He was a backup to Carey Price on Team Canada’s U-18 squad this past year at the IIHF World U-18 Championships. He’s going to the World Junior camp for Canada, and he is in the mix of top young goaltending talent.”
On why the Coyotes traded up for him…“A goalie was one of our needs, and we had him rated high on our charts. When things shook out the way they did, we didn’t hesitate making the move for him. It was an important pick for us. Given the player and the looking at the depth charts. We feel very strong on defense among our prospects, and we felt that we needed a good young goalie in the system.”
Keith Yandle, D
4th round (105th overall), 6’2, 195, Cushing Academy (USHSE)
Keith Yandle was eligible for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but because of the doubt that remained around the league at the time, he did not choose to opt-in. Since this year’s draft was stocked with defenseman, he was available in later rounds than he may have been before. Yandle, who played with the Cushing Academy during the 2004-05 season, could turn out to be a big value pick for the Coyotes.
Yandle is a big mobile two-way defenseman that has a lot of potential. His brother Brian has been a key player at the University of New Hampshire for the last two seasons. Keith is extremely versatile and is used in all situations, including quarterbacking the power play. He had 54 points in 34 games at Cushing this season. He will definitely need to grow into his 6’2, 195 lb. frame.
Yandle is headed to the University of Maine to play for head coach Tim Whitehead and the Black Bears this fall.
Tom Kurvers on Keith Yandle
What the New Englander brings to the picture… “Yandle is a player that comes highly rated out of the Boston area. He’s going to the U.S. junior camp this summer in Lake Placid and we think he is a great prospect. The good thing about Keith is that he’s going to play in college, and we will have some good time to watch him develop. We think we have a player with size and ability to make his mark.”
On the defenseman going to the University of Maine next fall… “Going to a wining and successful program is a good environment for these young men, especially in Keith’s case. Players who are in these types of environments tend to pick up characteristics that you would love them to bring to your team.”
Anton Krysanov, C
5th round (148th overall), 6’3, 198, Lada-Togliatti (RUS)
In an off year that saw the first Russian-born prospect selected in the third round (70th overall), it was no surprise that Anton Krysanov was available deep in the fifth round. He has made his way up through the Lada system, where he played on their junior team as a 16-year-old. This year, he made the main club and saw some limited time in the Russian Super League. He was also a member of Team Russia for all their major U-18 tournaments, most notably, the 2005 IIHF World U-18 Championships. In Lada-2, he had 26 points in 34 games.
Krysanov is a big player who should be a decent project for the Coyotes. He has progressed over the years and has really stepped his development up, but he is still a ways off. He saw most of his time on the bottom lines with the big club this past season, but will need to push himself if he wants more.
Tom Kurvers on Anton Krysanov
On the big centerman’s game… “Anton is a big centerman; he moves pretty well, plays a good two-way game and showed really well at the U-18 World Championships. He played in the elite league last season. He was a player that stood out.”
On when the forward hit the Coyotes radar… “You start picking these players up when they are about 16 and 17. It’s not that much about hitting the radar, as is it is maintaining a certain profile and watching them develop. He didn’t make a big splash, but he has made progress over time that we noticed. Our scout had him rated highly, and he was the best player we felt for that pick.”
Pat Brosnihan, RW
7th round (212th overall), 6’3, 208, Worcester Academy (USHSE)
For the second consecutive year and in the last round of the draft, the Coyotes selected a big forward who is headed to Yale University (Will Engasser – 2004). Pat Brosnihan will take his all-star talent to the college level and hope to play on one of Bulldogs bottom two lines.
Brosnihan is a big skilled forward who has scoring touch and is a good skater. Having played at the high school level over the last season, he will have to make many adjustments to the Division 1 game. He had 63 points in 26 games at Worcester.
Tom Kurvers on Pat Brosnihan
On the Coyotes final selection…“He is a player that flew under the radar because he played with a smaller program at Worcester Academy. He was recognized as a player, but he was playing in a less competitive environment. When you’re not playing in the top environments, sometimes you don’t get the same reception as another player would because it is hard to measure their game to one that would be playing in the OHL, for example.”
On the keys to his development… “He is a big guy with skill. Progress is going to be the key with Pat. He’s going to a good school and program in Yale University. They have a good coach and have been very successful in the past and that factored into the bigger picture. He’s going to a good program where players do develop and where plenty of Yale graduates have gone onto play more hockey down the line. Being in his situation, he has as much time as he needs to develop. If he needs two years or more than it would take a junior player to develop, then he has more than two years.”
DRAFT DAY TRADES
The Coyotes traded their 2005 fourth round pick (119th overall) and 2006 second round pick to Philadelphia for their 2005 second round pick (59th overall) – Coyotes then selected Pier-Olivier Pelletier.
Read the full Q&A with Tom Kurvers here.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.