Coyotes 2008-09 rookie review

By Jeff Dahlia

With an abundance of talent in the system heading into the 2008-09 season, the Coyotes decided to roll the dice on a handful of rookies this year. It wouldn’t be quite right to say the franchise was burned by the move, but it’s fair enough to say that the overload didn’t pay its dividends last year.

The club moved forward in its quest to rebuild the franchise by incorporating young invigorating talent into the mix. Though, as General Manager Don Maloney admitted after reviewing the past year, he felt they that the team was a bit too young considering the landscape. While the lack of veteran presence afforded the youth the time and experience they needed for future years, the same absence hurt the club’s chance down the stretch.

Kyle Turris, C
Drafted 2007, 1st round, 3rd overall

If there was one prospect who had the microscope on him the whole season, it was Turris. Seeing action in 63 games, the centerman was able to muster up 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists), but he tied Ed Jovanovski for the team’s worst plus/minus rating with a minus-15.  The New Westminster, B.C. native started off the season with a bang, getting points in his first three games. But as the season wore on, Turris had several droughts where he was held pointless. Consequently, he also saw a demotion to San Antonio to get him some effective playing time. Size definitely played a factor in this equation. He physically didn’t look like he was ready for the NHL this year. Jumping from college after one year probably wasn’t the best move for someone of Turris’ stature. The skill and talent is there; he just needed another year of collegiate training and playing to get his body in a better position.

Mikkel Boedker, LW

Drafted 2008, 1st round, 8th overall

There are a couple Danes playing in the league these days, but when you look at Boedker, this winger has the chance to be great. At times, he really played and looked like an NHL veteran but it wasn’t sustained. He’s got the tenacity and skill to preserve in the league. Once he finds that balance, there is really no holding him back as he mentally looks set in the NHL. Obviously big numbers weren’t there, but Boedker led all Phoenix rookies in goals (11), assists (17), points (28) and games played (78). He also led the rookies in ice time, averaging 15:32 a game.

Viktor Tikhonov, RW

Drafted 2008, 1st round, 28th overall

All season long,  people raved about Tikhonov’s maturity and presence out on the ice. It’s safe to say that time spent playing back in Russia’s top league really made this transition a fruitful one. Playing more of a two-way role with a defensive twist, Tikhonov fared well for the club. He looked poised out on the ice and his decision-making skills were above average. Tikhonov put up 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) over 61 games, averaging about 12 minutes of ice time a night. Overall, this was a good year for the young Tikhonov.

Kevin Porter, C
Drafted 2004, 4th round, 119th overall

While he has the best all-around game of this group, Kevin Porter couldn’t sustain the momentum he had early on in the year. He got off to a good start, averaging about 12:30 a night and chipping in points here and there. But as the winter hit, Porter’s offensive game went ice cold. The 2008 Hobey Baker award winner definitely brought more to the team than just offense alone, but if he could have maintained points throughout December, he probably wouldn’t have been demoted to San Antonio. But he finished the year in the AHL where he played consistently and finished the year strong. During his time spent with Phoenix, he scored 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists), had four penalty minutes and turned in a minus-2 over 34 games played.

Cups of coffee

The Coyotes had the chance to call up other prospects throughout the year for a couple stretches. Undrafted free agent David Schlemko made his NHL debut Feb. 3 against the Nashville Predators. He played in only three games this season for Phoenix, registering one assist and averaging 19:16 of ice time. Undrafted 2006 free agent signee goalie Josh Tordjman also received the call this year. He joined the team in early March and started two games.  He went 0-2-0 with a 4.07 goals-against-average and a .871 save percentage. And finally, prospect netminder Al Montoya ended the year with the Coyotes. Seeing action in five games towards the end of the season, the former New York Rangers first-round draft pick went 3-1-0 with 2.08 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage.