Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Henrik Samuelsson, the Phoenix Coyotes' first-round selection last summer, continues to be a force for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. (courtesy of Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes prospect pool currently features a modest total of seven players currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League. What they lack in numbers though they certainly make up for in talent with several of the players possessing the potential to become quality players at the next level.
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.