Heading into Columbus, many would have thought that the Phoenix Coyotes were going to move up in order make a legitimate run at Kyle Turris. According to the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting, Keith Gretztky, they were very high on the forward but they were also content to take the best forward available at the third slot, regardless if he wasn’t there.
A couple of trade rumors swirled around the draft floor, but Phoenix didn’t have to swing a deal or lose assets to get Turris. As things would shake out, the Coyotes ended up getting their guy with the third overall pick.
In addition to Turris, Phoenix ended up adding two more forwards, two defensemen and two goalies.
Kyle Turris, C – 1st pick, 3rd overall (Burnaby Express – BCHL)
6’1, 170 lbs.
Born: 08/14/1989 – New Westminster, B.C.
When it came to the third pick, the Coyotes hit the podium without delay and took Kyle Turris.
"Oh, I was so excited and so honored," he said about the selection. "I mean coming from Wayne Gretzky was unbelievable. I’m kind of speechless."
Now that the draft is over, Turris headed to the University of Wisconsin in the WCHA. Without a doubt, he’s expected to be one of the top incoming freshmen in the nation, if not the best overall. He knows it’s going to be faster, players are going be bigger with stronger bodies and it’s going to be a big adjustment physically.
The New Westminster native is confident that with head coach Mike Eaves, and assistants Mark Osiecki and Kevin Patrick are going to help him with that adjustment and help him grow. He has appreciated the staff’s ability to work with each individual and that he feels they get the best out of each player.
"They’re very intense people and they are very well respected people," he added. "Going down there for a couple years will improve my physical attributes and it will help me become the best player I can."
Neither Turris nor the Coyotes are in a hurry to rush the pivot out of the collegiate level. He needs to continue to grow, add weight, get stronger, and excel at the NCAA level first before moving on.
"I’m just going to go in there and take it year-by-year, see how I develop – physically and see how my game develops in the first year and after," he said. "I’ll be listening to the Coyotes to see if they think I’m ready or not."
There’s no rush because both sides agree about the pivot’s development.
"They are very supportive in everything I do," he said with a smile. "We’re both very excited for next season."
Turris had been ranked the first overall North American prospect by the Central Scouting Bureau heading into the draft. When it was over, he ended up earning the distinction of being the highest player from the BCHL ever taken in an NHL draft to date. Playing in his final season with the Burnaby Express, he displayed his explosive offensive talent, scoring 121 points (66 goals, 55 assists) in 53 games played. He also represented Canada in various tournaments at the U17 and U18 levels.
Before selecting Nick Ross with the last pick in the first round, the Coyotes traded the pick to Edmonton. In exchange, they took the 30th and picked up the Oilers second-round pick, the 36th overall selection.
The Edmonton, Alberta native has been playing for the Regina Pats for the last three seasons. He earned a reputation as being a strong defender who loves to throw the body. He’s known as a smart two-way defenseman, with good playmaking ability. His offensive numbers aren’t quite there but his positioning and prowess on the ice surely make up for that. In 70 games played, Ross notched 31 points (7 goals, 24 assists) and 87 penalty minutes.
Before the draft, Keith Gretzky made it a point to tell Hockey’s Future that the Coyotes were looking to add skilled scoring talent up front with their two first-round picks. In HF’s mock draft, Phoenix was projected as taking Brett MacLean with the second first-round pick. As it became clear to the club that MacLean and many other potential snipers were going to be around early in the second round, the Coyotes rolled the dice. They picked up Ross first, and then opted to take the lamplighter with the 32nd overall pick in the second round.
MacLean was happy with the outcome, but hoped it could have come earlier because it was hard to have to leave the arena Friday night unselected.
"Yeah, it would have been nice going this early today to have just got it over with last night," he said. "Now I’m happy so it’s going to be a good day."
While many services had him ranked in lower half of the first 30 picks, just getting selected gets the ball rolling for the left winger.
"It’s what you do after the draft that matters," he said. "I just had to let it play out and hope I get selected by a good team, which I did."
MacLean racked up a lot of points last season with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. A lot of people have said he’s attained that success by playing with Canada’s next hockey prodigy, John Tavares (2009).
"It’s always tough because Tavares is great player to play with," he said. "It would be nice to show people I can play without him and I can be an impact player."
But as many have said at the draft this year (including the Coyotes), you don’t go onto to score 47 scores by pure luck. He finished the 2006-07 season with 100 points (47 goals, 53 assists) and was a plus-9. MacLean’s got great offensive instinct and he can finish.
"I’ve got to work on my skating and get faster," he acknowledged. "I know I need to get bigger, stronger and have a better overall game."
If all things head in the right direction, not only will Oshawa be tough next season, but MacLean wants to continue to lead the way.
"We want to be one of the top lines in the league if not the top line," he said.
The Coyotes were able to acquire this pick – their fourth pick within the first 40 picks this year – by way of Edmonton. Needing to address the lack of goaltending depth, the Phoenix selected Joel Gistedt out of Sweden.
He’s just under 6’0 but he’s a quick goaltender, covers a lot of ground and is very poised for his age. He is a year older than the draft pool, but his stock rose during his rookie campaign due to the fact he extremely well with Frolunda in the SEL last season. He actually ended up being better statistically for the Indians over veteran netminder Tommy Salo. Gistedt was also very impressive at the WJC for his native country this past winter.
During the 2006-07 season, he posted a 2.58 goals-against-average and a .897 save percentage in 35 games played.
For the third year straight, Coyotes European scout Evzen Slansky helped nab a player from either Slovakia or Czech Republic. This year it was the skilled Czech pivot Vladimir Ruzicka, who is also the son of former NHLer Vladimir Ruzicka. The younger Ruzicka had a lot of success with Slavia during the 2006-07 season, collecting 58 points (24 goals, 34 assists) and 54 penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was also a member of the Czech Republic team for the U18 tournament in Finland this past spring. He tied Ondrej Roman for the lead in team scoring with six points (2 goals, 4 assists).
The Coyotes admitted that Ruzicka seemed to lack consistency and drive throughout the season at times, but feel that he commits, he’ll be one heck of an offensive threat. When he’s on top of his game, he can be very dangerous. He can skate and move the puck with skill.
Maxim Goncharov, D – 5th pick, 123rd overall (CSKA – RSL)
6’0, 175 lbs.
Born: 06/15/89 – Moscow, Russia
The Coyotes were high on Maxim Goncharov, but like most teams at the draft, they shied away from the Russians because there is no transfer agreement in place. The Moscow native has played and developed with CSKA system. He saw some action in the top league this past season, where he was pointless in 19 games and took 19 penalty minutes. He also starred for the Russians at the U18 tournament in Finland and was again, pointless in seven appearances.
Goncharov is a two-way defenseman who many believe has some offensive upside to his game. He’s a good skater and doesn’t shy away from the play. He plays with an edge and likes to get physical but overdoes it sometimes. He’s another prospect who is going to have to show more drive and determination.
Scott Darling, G – 6th pick, 153rd overall (Capital District – EJHL)
6’6, 190 lbs.
Born: 12/22/88 – Lemont, IL
With the last pick in the 2007 draft, the Coyotes went with another goaltender in Scott Darling. He spent the 2006-07 season playing for Coach Jim Salfi and the Capital District Selects of the EJHL. The team struggled while Darling split time with Chance Lieb. He managed to put up a 9-9-3 record, a 3.37 goals-against average and led the league with a .927 save percentage.
According to Coyotes U.S. scout Steve Lyons, Darling is a determined prospect who is going to do what it takes to be a successful goalie. He’s 6’6, but he’s very athletic and has a lot of potential and covers a lot of ground.
He was drafted by the Indiana Ice this summer in the USHL and has committed to the University of Maine for 2008.
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