Coyotes CHL 2008-09 prospects update

By Jeff Dahlia

The Coyotes have a total of six prospects playing junior hockey throughout Canada. Four are defensemen, while the other two are forwards. With the exception of Nick Ross, they were all selected in this past summer’s draft.

Colin Long, C – Kelowna Rockets
Drafted 2008 – 4th round, 99th overall

The shifty pivot is picking up where he left off last season. Already jumping out hot to help propel the Rockets to the forefront of the B.C. Division, the fourth round pick is racking up the points. Clicking with Jaime Benn, the two are currently tied for the team lead in points (39) and continue to push each other daily. Not only is Kelowna a big benefactor of their early success, but Long’s point-per-game average is up to 1.63. That currently puts him on the pace to outdo last year’s totals.

Nick Ross, D – Kamloops Blazers
Drafted 2007 – 1st round, 30th overall

Many will look at Ross’ numbers and wonder, “What’s the hold up?” Having notched 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) through 25 games. But those numbers are not as important for the rearguard as much as it is to be consistent and steady in his own end. The second part of that is learning when to turn the offense on and be responsible in doing so. It is somewhat the same scenario as it was with Keith Yandle. The offensive talent is there, but the overall importance for Ross is finding that right balance and carrying that consistency through a long period.

Overall it’s nothing to be overly concerned with, as the final touches of Ross’ development is being put into place before he jumps to the pros. But back in Kamloops, he’s helping the Blazers climb in the B.C. Division. They’re currently 12-14-0-3, which puts them five points back from Kelowna and a steep 18 away from Vancouver.

Michael Stone, D – Calgary Hitmen
Drafted 2008 – 3rd round, 69th overall

Steady play and cohesiveness has propelled the Hitmen to the tops in the WHL. Jumping out to a league-best 23-4-1-0 record, Calgary is banking off the big-time play from their veteran leaders – like Stone – and their latest batch of young guns.

The Winnipeg native is having a great year thus far, as he’s seeing time in all aspects of the Hitmen’s play. He’s also on pace to outdo previous scoring totals with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) through 25 games. Back on defense, Stone is part of one of, if not the best, blueline corps in the entire league. Not only are they suffocating the opposition’s attack, but they’re doing it with grit and poise.

Jared Staal, RW – Sudbury Wolves
Drafted 2008 – 2nd round, 49th overall

Like the rest of the Wolves, Staal has been slow to get things going this season. Going 1-8-0-1 over their last 10 games, it’s still safe to say that head coach Mike Foligno is searching for the right chemistry. Things are slowly coming along, but with veterans such as the Coyotes second-round pick starting to heat up, a turnaround in Sudbury is close.

Staal’s production picked up over the month, as he’s currently sitting on 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) through 25 contests. The points are important for the Wolves, but Foligno is very big on team defense. And that is also a big point for the veteran Staal and the rest of the Wolves. Two-way play has to improve if the offense is going to see any sparks. If they can’t pick up the pace and dominate with puck possession, it’s going to continue to be a long year. Sudbury needs players like Staal to step up and lead that charge.

Tim Billingsley, D – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Drafted 2008 – 7th round, 189th overall

Billingsley went down early in the season with an injury. Having missed roughly three weeks, he got back to action in the second half of October. On a young team that’s looking to establish itself, head coach Dave Cameron is looking to players such as the 2008 draft pick to help the rebuilding process along.

Mathieu Brodeur, D – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Drafted 2008 – 3rd round, 76th overall

Brodeur continues to be one of the steady and reliable pieces on the Screaming Eagles team this year. His presence and persistence has helped him stand out in the league, as he was named to Team QMJHL for the ADT Canada/Russia Challenge.

Back home on the Cape, he’s helped the Screaming Eagles get off to a solid start. Through 28 games, they boast a 19-8-1-0 record. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, one point off the division leader, the Moncton Wildcats. During the progression, the defensive defenseman has chipped in 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) and has a plus-3 rating in 22 games.