Coyotes CHL prospects update

By Jeff Dahlia

The Phoenix Coyotes currently have seven prospects playing in junior organizations in North America. Of the seven, four are playing with teams in the QMJHL, while the remaining three are in the WHL. For the second straight year the Coyotes do not have a prospect in the OHL.

Five of the seven prospects return from last year. The franchise saw Blake Wheeler graduate from the USHL to the college ranks with the University of Minnesota, while Lance Monych moved on to the club’s AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. The team also parted ways with wingers Ryan Gibbons and Tyler Redenbach. Gibbons continues to stake with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL as an overager, while Redenbach signed on with the Providence Bruins in the AHL.

Finally, Phoenix added two prospects from the QMJHL to solidify their revamped group. The statistics below are current as of November 15th, 2005.

QMHJL

Keith Yandle, D – Moncton Wildcats – Drafted 2005, 4th round, 105th overall

Yandle is off to the best start amongst Coyotes junior prospects. Earlier this week, Yandle was named the QMJHL defensive player of the week for the period from November 7th to 13th. During that span, Yandle scored a total of seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) in three games, and picked up a second star in consecutive games for his strong effort.

With Moncton, Yandle is the team’s third leading scorer with 30 points (7 goals, 30 assists), the team’s leader in plus/minus with a +27 and tied for first in assists.

Against the rest of the league, the savvy rearguard leads all defensemen in the scoring, plus/minus and assists. He is currently fifth overall in goals scored.

Olivier Latendresse, C – Val-d’Or Foreurs – Signed as free agent September 2004

Latendresse enters his final season with the Foreurs as a veteran leader. He has already shown that his presence on the ice is much needed due to a young inconsistent squad. He has also jumped out and provided a big part of Val-d’Or’s offense for the first month of the season.

Latendresse currently leads the team in scoring with 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists), is second in goals scored and is first overall in assists. He currently has a 57.9 percent faceoff percentage, near the top on the team. He is -2 on the year.

Against the league, Latendresse is 11th overall in scoring and currently ranks third overall in assists.

Kevin Cormier, LW – Halifax Mooseheads – Drafted 2004, 6th round, 168th overall

As the undisputed heavyweight of the 2004-05 season in the Q, Cormier entered this season with expectations to add another dimension to his game. While it was more then obvious the Mooseheads weren’t expecting him to become a point-per-game producer, Cormier has been quite a pleasant surprise on the forecheck for Halifax. He continues to work hard down low and giving defenders grief in and around the net because of his size and strength.

Cormier has 12 points in 23 games and is -4. His 54 penalty minutes currently lead the team.

Pier-Olivier Pelletier, G – Drummondville Voltiguers – Drafted 2005, 2nd round, 59th overall

Pelletier is backstopping an average Voltiguers squad, who has managed to hang around the middle of the pack in the league. While he remains the team leader in wins and save percentage, Pelletier has missed a good amount of time due to a tear in the labrum of the hip. He has been cleared to play, but he will be under a microscope because of the area and the nature of the prior injury. He will more than likely have to go under the knife (preferably in the summer) to correct the problem.

In 15 games, Pelletier has a 6-5-0 record, .873 save percentage and 3.31 GAA.

WHL

Logan Stephenson, D – Tri-City Americans – Drafted 2004, 2nd round, 35th overall

Stephenson is playing on an Americans team that is currently trying to carve out its identity. There seems to be a lot of trouble with defense, but head coach Dean Nachbauer is currently looking to solidify his blue line. He has been trying to back fill the roster spots to replace graduated defensemen in Shawn Belle (DAL) and Clayton Stoner (MIN). He also had to deal with Shane Gimas retiring.

With a lot of new faces being added to the team, Stephenson continues to be looked at as a veteran leader. He is already on pace to set a personal high in points this season, however, he is going to have to continue to guide the team and help tighten up their game. He has 11 points in 19 games and is -5.

Stephenson will also represent the WHL during the 2005 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, November 30 through December 1, in Saskatoon.

Roman Tomanek, LW – Seattle Thunderbirds – Drafted 2004, 4th round, 103rd overall

After spending a small part of the 2004-05 season with the Calgary Hitmen, Tomanek was traded in the offseason and has started this season with Seattle. While the T-Birds have sputtered out of the gate, he has been very persistent and has shown a lot of chemistry with his new teammates, most notably Ladislav Scurko (PHI).

Tomanek is currently second on the team in scoring with 11 points and tied for the lead in goals scored with 7, in 17 games.

Aaron Gagnon, C – Seattle Thunderbirds – Drafted 2004, 8th round, 240th overall

Much like his team, Gagnon got off to a slower than expected start thus far. He missed a significant time early on due to a fracture in his left hand. Even though he was a little late to get on the ice and make his presence felt with the T-Birds, he is going to have to step it up to help Seattle challenge for the top of the U.S. Division

Gagnon like Stephenson was named to Team WHL for the 2005 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. He has three points in seven games and is +2.

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