Photo: Although Michigan’s top line scored more goals than some NCAA teams did this season, the Wolverines’ tournament success will depend on contributions from depth players like Arizona Coyotes prospect Brendan Warren (courtesy of Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
The Arizona Coyotes spring Top 20 was chock-full of players excelling in the junior hockey ranks, with a few young pros added in for good measure. Many of the honorable mentions – the players just outside the Top 20 – are playing college hockey or pro hockey in Europe. A few long-term projects may not pan out as professional players, but others are on track for a role with the Coyotes if all goes well. With playoffs right ahead, here is a look at what the college and European group has accomplished in 2015-16 so far.
Photo: Arizona prospect Zac Larraza of the Denver Pioneers helped his team to a first-round sweep in the NCHC Tournament. (courtesy of Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
The Arizona Coyotes have typically drafted out of the junior ranks early in drafts, then used picks later in the draft to add depth. Notable NCAA prospects Connor Clifton, Hunter Fejes, Rhett Holland, and Zac Larraza will finish off their campaigns with playoff appearances. Meanwhile, Jared Fiegl closed out his season with a murmur and Jedd Soleway has at least one weekend of hockey left to develop.
Photo: Louis Domingue used an impressive 2013-14 season to solidify himself as the starter for the AHL’s Portland Pirates in 2014-15. (courtesy of John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)
The Arizona Coyotes have actively addressed the composition of their prospect pool since the 2013-14 trade deadline. A year ago, there was a logjam of talented defensemen throughout their pipeline. At the deadline, general manager Dave Maloney traded David Rundblad to the Chicago Blackhawks. At the 2014 NHL Draft, the Coyotes grabbed seven forwards while only selecting two defensemen, both in the late rounds.
Photo: Wisconsin freshman Jedd Soleway, a top-nine and power play contributor this year for the Badgers, fits the Phoenix Coyotes mold of big, hard-nosed forwards (courtesy of Dan Sanger/Icon SMI)
The Phoenix Coyotes have made a habit of hoarding big, physical hockey players throughout all levels of their organization. This trend holds true in their pool of college hockey prospects. It is a player-type they clearly value.
Photo: Rookie pro Lucas Lessio broke camp with the Coyotes but was assigned to AHL Portland after three NHL games (courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes may have the most unbalanced prospect pool in the league. On defense, they have more legitimate players than places to put them. At forward, they may be forced to convert their young centers to address the scarcity of talent on both wings.