A first-round pick in 2006, Summers is continuing what has been a strong career at the University of Michigan. Entering his senior year, the 6’2 Summers was again named team captain and has registered one goal and seven assists in 22 games so far this year for the Wolverines. The strong-skating blueliner, who has also seen time at forward throughout his collegiate career, will look to lead his improving young team into the second half of the season before he embarks on what should be a solid pro career.
Chris Brown, LW, 18, University of Michigan
A teammate of Summers, Brown has had an excellent start to his freshman season with the Wolverines. The 18-year-old Houston native has posted seven goals and eight assists through his first 22 games at the collegiate level, and his 15 points currently ranks him fourth on the team in scoring. The big winger has also shown that he is not intimidated whatsoever by older competition, as shown by his 31 penalty minutes thus far. A second-round pick of the Coyotes in 2009, Brown was invited to the World Junior selection camp in Grand Forks, N.D, but was cut from the team that would eventually go on to win the gold medal.
Mike Lee, G, 19, St. Cloud State University
After playing all of last season with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League, Lee enrolled at St. Cloud, where he has played some solid hockey for a team that is currently ranked 14th in the nation. Having appeared in 13 games, Lee has posted a record of 5-5-3 with a 2.51 GAA and a .914 save percentage while sharing the goaltending duties with junior Dan Dunn. The 19-year-old Lee was also on the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the recent WJCs but was pulled from the final game after allowing three goals on just seven shots.
Brett Hextall, C, 21, University of North Dakota
Acquired by Phoenix as a sixth-round pick in 2008, Hextall may be value draft pick for the Coyotes. Coming off a freshman year in which he posted 26 points, Hextall has carried his strong play into his second season with the Sioux. The 21-year-old has tallied eight goals and four assists in 19 games this year for a team that is currently ranked fifth in the country. What is more notable about Hextall’s game is the feistiness he brings to the ice every night. As a freshman, Hextall racked up 91 penalty minutes in 42 games and is well on his way to surpassing that total, having already collected 66 this year. Despite his small stature, (5’10, 176 lbs) with his tremendous skating and quickness he also brings a physical edge to his game that should endear him to fans wherever he plays. The question will be if his skills are enough for a top-six role in the pros.
Brett Bennett, G, 21, University of Wisconsin
Bennett, a fifth-round pick in 2006, has gotten off to a nice start with the Wisconsin Badgers. After starting his college career at Boston University, Bennett decided to leave the school and play a year in the USHL before returning to the collegiate level. That decision has turned out to be a good one as Bennett has been solid in goal for the fourth-ranked Badgers. The 21-year-old has appeared in nine games, posting a 6-3 record with a solid 2.12 goals against average and a save percentage of .904. Bennett has split the goaltending duties with fellow junior Scott Gudmandson and that formula has worked well all season, and has the Badgers very much in the mix for the national title.
Scott Darling, G, 21, University of Maine
Coming off a tough first season with the Black Bears at the University of Maine, Darling has rebounded and then some. After a rare losing season, the Black Bears have returned to national prominence and Darling has certainly been a beneficiary of the team’s success. The 21-year-old has a sparkling 11-3-2 record, 2.62 goals against, and a .910 save percentage for the 18th-ranked Black Bears who find themselves in third place in the Hockey East conference. Standing 6’6, Darling has an advantage, but after a disappointing first season, one in which his confidence surely took a hit, he is back in the mix for the Coyotes goaltending future.