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.
Photo: Phoenix Coyotes defensive prospect Brandon Gormley tops the latest ranking of the team's top 20 prospects (courtesy of Paul Hebert/Icon SMI)
Despite last season’s acquisition of highly-regarded Swedish defenseman David Rundblad, 20-year-old blueliner Brandon Gormley has become the Phoenix Coyotes top prospect and headlines an ever improving group in the fall edition of the club’s Top 20 prospects.
Photo: Selected 27th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft, winger Henrik Samuelsson is the son of former NHL defenseman and Phoenix assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
Advancing to the Western Conference Finals in the 2012 NHL playoffs, the Phoenix Coyotes entered the 2012 NHL Draft with their lowest first-round pick since 2003.
Photo: Griffin Reinhart has asserted himself over the course of the 2011-12 season as one of the top blueliners available in a defense heavy draft. (Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
Here's a look at Hockey's Future's top 10 prospects from the Western Hockey League, a group that includes a large batch of elite defensemen.