Coyotes NCAA prospect update

By Jeff Dahlia

The Phoenix Coyotes currently have 10 prospects in the collegiate ranks. Spread out over four leagues, the franchise currently has one senior, five juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen active in the nation.

WCHA

Blake Wheeler, C
University of Minnesota, sophomore
1st round, 5th overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft

As a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, Blake Wheeler continues to make steady progress on one of the nation’s top teams. He’s spent a lot of time anchoring a line with Ben Gordon and Jim O’Brien, but saw different linemates during the team’s most recent, and disastrous, series against the University of North Dakota.

The Minnesota native has had some consistency issues, but Wheeler is only in his second college season. It seems that big men tend to develop and find their game a bit later than the high-octane, net-burning forwards do. The fact still remains that Wheeler is becoming a very balanced player who’s developed a lot more control and has increased his on-ice presence.

Playing on a very potent and balanced team in scoring, Wheeler’s 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) rank third for the Gophers. He carried a six-game point streak into the new year, but he has quickly lost his touch. He remains scoreless in his last seven contests.

CCHA

Kevin Porter, LW
University of Michigan, junior
4th round, 119th overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Kevin Porter’s place on a young University of Michigan squad is two-fold. Not only is he playing and producing on the team’s top line with T.J Hensick and Travis Turnbull, he’s also embraced the responsibility and leadership that comes with being one of the team’s top go-to guys. Porter is by far one of, if not the best, all-around players up front for the Wolverines this season. He is seeing top minutes, playing on the team’s top power-play unit, and is scoring points with consistency.

Porter is the Wolverines second-leading scorer and currently ranks third overall in the nation in scoring with 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 28 games played. He had 16-game scoring streak, which lasted a little more than two months. During that stretch, he earned CCHA Player of the Month honors in December.

Chad Kolarik, C
University of Michigan, junior
7th round, 199th overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Picking up where he left off from the 2004-05 season, Chad Kolarik is seeing top minutes for the Wolverines and he’s racking up the points with a lot more consistency. He’s continues to be one of the top skaters in Ann Arbor, with top-end offensive ability. The Pennsylvania native has really defined himself as a heart-and-soul type of individual, as he plays with a noticeable edge. The only minor setback is that he lets his emotions get the best of him at times and they spill over in games. Even though he’s more offensive minded, Kolarik can pitch in on both ends of the ice and in all situations.

The junior is currently fourth in team scoring with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 28 games played.

Chris Summers, D
University of Michigan, freshman
1st round, 19th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft

Coming into to Ann Arbor, many expected Chris Summers to use his slick skating and offensive ability to help bolster the Wolverines blue line on the attack. With a roster that includes defensemen Jack Johnson (LA), Matt Hunwick (BOS) and Mark Mitera (ANA), the results have been sub-par all-around. The points aren’t there for Summers either, as it’s apparent he got off to a slow start.

After an ugly December for the Wolverines, the team bounced back very strongly, going 6-1 in the month of January. As far as Summers is concerned, he’s been moving the puck with a lot more confidence and things are going in the right direction for the young defender.

In 28 contests, he’s recorded only five assists.

Chris Frank, D
Western Michigan University, sophomore
7th round, 188th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft

It’s no secret opposing teams’ forwards try to work away from Chris Frank. Feared as one of the hardest hitters in all of the CCHA, his pounding style and approach wears on other teams. Frank isn’t trying to earn a reputation as a bully, but his willingness to defend his zone at all costs raises a lot of eyebrows.

He has spent the majority of the season playing alongside Jonathan Lupa, but has had a couple different partners this season as Broncos head coach Jim Culhane has been looking for the right formula to turn the troubled unit around.

And it’s safe to say that Frank is still the defensive-defenseman the Broncos look to every night. His stats are reflective of his approach, as he has accumulated nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 24 games.

Hockey East

Benn Ferriero, F
Boston College, sophomore
7th round, 196th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft

After making a name for himself as a freshman last season, Benn Ferriero returned this year and picked up where he left off. Currently skating on the team’s top lines, the sophomore not only pays the price to get valuable points, but he continues to be a rising leader for the Eagles. He has a great understanding of the game, an approach (both mental and physical) that’s second to none (and hard to duplicate), and an unimaginable drive. At times, it’s almost as if you see shades of former BC star Ryan Shannon (ANA) in the young forward.

After exploding for six points (4 goals, 2 assists) in a sweep of Merrimack University — which earned him Hockey East Player of the Week honors – Ferriero has had a bit of a dry spell. He is still averaging a point per game with 12 goals and 12 assists in 24 contests.

Sean Sullivan, D
Boston University, senior
9th round, 272nd overall, 2003 NHL Entry Draft

In his final season with Boston University, Sean Sullivan remains the team’s most consistent forces on the blue line. One of the bigger headlines surrounding Sullivan and BU this season was an incident in early December, when he and teammates John Curry and Kevin Schaeffer (NAS) were attacked by a local gang at an off-campus party. A shocking event that landed the players in the hospital and one that could have derailed the team’s season. Luckily, all the players bounced back and have continued to help the Terriers push towards knocking the University of New Hampshire from their perch atop Hockey East.

The Terriers team captain started the season off on a hot streak, tallying points in 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists) in his first 11 games. Known more for his pure defensive skills, Sully has been held scoreless in his last 13 contests.
 
Brett Bennett, G
Boston University, freshman
5th round, 130th overall, 2006 NHL Entry Draft

After playing with the U.S. NTDP last year, Brett Bennett joined the Boston University Terriers as a freshman this season. Playing behind an established and well-defined senior netminder John Curry — as well as junior backup Karson Gillespie — Bennett knew he wasn’t going to see much time between the pipes this season. The Williamsville, New York native got his first collegiate start against Merrimack College on January 20th. He turned away 17 of 18 shots in a 2-1 Terriers win.

ECAC

William Engasser, F
Yale University, junior
9th round, 261st overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Will Engasser has yet to turn in a decent offensive season for the Bulldogs and it looks like this year is going to be the same. The junior forward had been ineffective at the start of the season. As result, he missed the majority of December because he was a healthy scratch. When returned, there was a little spark, but nothing worth noting has followed. In 15 games for the Bulldogs, Engasser has earned six points (5 goals, 1 assist). Two of his goals are game-winners, which leaves him tied for the team lead in that category.

Pat Brosnihan, F
Yale University, sophomore
7th round, 212th overall, 2005 NHL Entry Draft

Pat Brosnihan hasn’t fared well statistically for the Bulldogs either. He’s been on a constant carousel shifting between linemates, and between the center and right wing positions. He’s got the tools to be a big-time player for Yale but it’s apparent that not much in working in his favor so far. However, it’s the same story for the entire team, so it could have to do with the players adjusting to first-year coach Keith Allain. In 20 contests, Brosnihan has only registered two goals and two assists.

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