Coyotes offseason news and notes

By Jeff Dahlia

The Phoenix Coyoes prospect core is hard at work preparing for the upcoming season. Here’s a look at happenings over the summer.

On the WHL front…

Phoenix has parted ways with Tyler Redenbach and Ryan Gibbons. Redenbach was the Coyotes first overall selection in the 2003 draft when they selected him in the second round, 77th overall. He earned the WHL’s Bob Clarke Trophy (league’s top scorer) during the 2003-04 season. He turned in an average 2004-05 season, splitting time between Swift Current and Lethbridge.

Gibbons however, made much progress last season while playing with Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. Playing almost the entire regular healthy, he turned in career highs in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes. However, none of it was enough to garner a deal with the Coyotes.

Roman Tomanek, drafted in 2004, started his WHL career with the Calgary Hitmen last season, but only saw action in a total of 19 games. He was lost for most of the 2004-05 season owed to a shoulder injury. However, Tomanek will suit up for the Seattle Thunderbirds when the 2005-06 season starts. He was later traded from Calgary to the T-Birds for Seattle’s first round selection, 45th overall, in the 2005 CHL Import Draft and a 2006 Bantam draft pick. The Coyotes still retain his rights.

Forward Lance Monych wrapped up his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. For the fifth straight year, he continued to raise his point production. During that span, Monych scored a total of 236 points (110 goals, 126 assists) in 319 games played. The former 2002 fourth round selection is under contract. He should make a legitimate bid to play in the AHL this fall, with the team’s top affiliate.

Martin Hanzal is a star in the making whether it is back home in the Czech Republic or if he decides to make the jump to North America. If had chosen to cross the pond, he would play for the Regina Pats, who selected him in the 2004 CHL Import Daft. The Coyotes did not sign Hanzal, so he will remain in the Czech Republic and play with Budejovice in the elite league.

Around the campuses…

Matt Jones recently wrapped up his stay at the University of North Dakota and signed an entry-level contract with Phoenix. Jones played the last four seasons with the Fighting Sioux, where he collected a total of 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) and 152 penalty minutes in 160 games played. Last season he was paired with fellow rearguard Matt Greene (EDM). Both he and Greene formed one of the most stifling pairs in all the NCAA last year.

Of the Coyotes five 2005 NHL Entry Draft selections, Pat Brosnihan will continue his development at Yale University and 2004 first round selection Blake Wheeler will start his collegiate career when he suits up for the Don Lucia’s Golden Gophers this fall. With the addition of Brosnihan and Wheeler, Phoenix now has a total of nine prospects playing in the NCAA.

The Coyotes 2005 third overall pick, Keith Yandle was set to attend the University of New Hampshire, following his brother Brian. He then decided to verbally commit to the University of Maine instead. However, Yandle’s college career was over before it even started. The 105th overall selection will opt to play with the Moncton of the QMJHL instead. There he will help the Wildcats in their pursuit of the Memorial Cup, as the host team.

Minor pros…

The Coyotes did not come to terms with Jason Jaspers this off-season. Instead, he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He will most likely start the season with Tampa’s AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons.

Phoenix teams up with San Antonio Rampage

For the third straight season, the Coyotes have changed their AHL affiliate. In 2003-04 they were in Springfield, then Phoenix signed a multi-year contract with the Utah Grizzlies. After Grizzlies owner David Elmore shut down his AHL franchise, the Coyotes were forced to find a new team and affiliation again.

Hopefully the phrase ‘third time’s a charm’ holds true. Phoenix and the San Antonio Rampage entered into a multi-year affiliation agreement beginning this fall. The team opens on the road October 7, 2005, at Houston. Both Pat Conacher and Gord Dineen are set to coach the Rampage this coming season.

The Coyotes have yet to announce an ECHL affiliation for the 2005-06 season. Last year’s agreement with the Idaho Steelheads was for just one year. Idaho opted to re-up with the Dallas Stars, who they were affiliated with when they won the Kelly Cup during the 2003-04 season.

2006 World Juniors

A total of six Coyotes prospects were invited to their native countries summer evaluation camps this year. Aaron Gagnon, Logan Stephenson and Pier-Oliver Pelletier were among the top 44 Canadian-born players to take part in Team Canada’s camp this year.

Prospects Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, Blake Wheeler and newcomer Keith Yandle skated with USA Hockey during their national evaluation camp. Porter finished the tournament in a three-way tie for the lead in scoring with 5 point (2 goals, 3 assists) in four exhibition games played.

On the European front, expect Enver Lisin to represent Team Russia and Martin Hanzal to represent the Czech Republic this year. Both Roman Tomanek (Slovakia) and Anton Krysanov (Russia) should be in the running for a roster spot with their teams.

This year’s event is slotted to take place in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Vancouver, Kelowna and Kamloops will take part in hosting the 31 games collectively.

Third Annual Pacific Division Rookie Tournament

The Coyotes will take part in the Pacific Division Rookie Tournament again this year, hosted by the San Jose Sharks. All games will be played at the at Logitech Ice’s north rink.

The 2005 roster includes Keith Ballard, Logan Stephenson, Joe Callahan, Kevin Cormier, Randall Gelech and Aaron Gagnon, to name a few. The Coyotes 2005 second selection from this year’s draft, goalie Pier-Olivier Pelletier and former Fighting Sioux rearguard and Coyotes prospects Matt Jones will make their debut for Phoenix.

After getting an invite to last year’s tournament, both Olivier Latendresse and Landon Bathe landed contracts with the Coyotes. Both forwards return for a second spin, while Phoenix has invited another group of potential prospects. Here’s a look at the group that could be fighting for a contract with the franchise:

2005 Invitees

Alex Archibald, G (Prince Albert – WHL)
Mark Ashton, D (Lethbridge – WHL)
Matt Gens, D (St. Cloud State – NCAA)
Paul Kurceba, D (Red Deer – WHL)
Mike Amodeo, LW (AHL)
John Hecimovic, RW (Sarnia/Mississauga – OHL)
Mike Kompom, C (Quad City – UHL)
Chris Ray, C (Kelowna – WHL)
Evan Schwabe, C (Minnesota-Duluth – NCAA)

Tournament Schedule

Wednesday, September 7
4:00 p.m. – Los Angeles vs. Anaheim
7:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs. San Jose

Thursday, September 8
4:00 p.m. – Phoenix vs. Los Angeles
7:30 p.m. – San Jose vs. Anaheim

Friday, September 9
Practice Day

Saturday, September 10
1:00 p.m. – Los Angeles vs. San Jose
4:30 p.m. – Anaheim vs. Phoenix

Sunday, September 11
1:00 p.m. – Consolation Game
4:30 p.m. – Championship Game

*All times Pacific

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.