Photo: Arizona’s 2011 first-round pick Connor Murphy has developed into an NHL defender, as well as a consistent blueliner for Team USA (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)
The 2010-11 season produced a playoff berth for the Phoenix Coyotes, but one that ended poorly, in a sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. With that bitter defeat in mind, and having conceded 18 goals in those four games, toughness seemed to be the foremost goal at the draft table. The offensive flair the Coyotes have added in recent years is missing, but some of these players have indeed gone on to help the franchise’s cause.
Photo: Finnish forward Alexander Ruuttu has yet to break through in the SM-liiga, but after a mid-season trade from Jokerit to Ilves, he could get a bigger shot in 2013-14 (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Thanks to most of their NCAA prospects recently making the jump to professional hockey, the Phoenix Coyotes do not have a large number of European and collegiate prospects. Fortunately for them, the ones they do have continue to get better with each passing season. From adjusting in their freshman seasons to being introduced to the European professional leagues, most of these prospects enjoyed successful seasons in 2012-13.
Photo: Oscar Lindberg, shown here representing Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Championships, is off to a hot start with Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League. (courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Welcome to the December 2012 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various competition levels who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind. This month’s edition features several players who will represent their country in the 2013 World Junior Championships. We also feature several players who, while posting decent numbers at their respective levels of competition, have fallen short of expectations through the first few months of the 2012-13 season.
Photo: Defenseman Connor Murphy, who will compete for a spot on Team USA at the 2013 WJC, is one of three first-round picks on the Phoenix Coyotes' blue line depth chart. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
As has been the case over the past few years, the Phoenix Coyotes prospect pool is built around their strong group of defensive prospects. Elite talents like Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson quickly became franchise cornerstones and gave way to a new crop led by the likes of first-round studs Brandon Gormley, David Rundblad, and Connor Murphy.
Forward Andy Miele will again be relied upon as a main source of offense for the Coyotes' AHL affiliate Portland Pirates to open the 2012-13 season. (courtesy of Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)
Although the lockout might cause some disappointment for Brandon Gormley and David Rundblad, two players on the cusp of full-time NHL duty, there is still the good news of them being able to further develop their high-level skills in the AHL. Gormley and Rundblad along with fellow Phoenix Coyotes prospects playing in the Europe, junior and the NCAA still have a full season ahead to prove their worth as prospects, regardless of the situation with the NHL.