Coyotes junior prospects 2009-10 review

By Andrew Sykes

The Coyotes have seven CHL prospects. Three of the prospects have now been called up to the AHL while three others remain in the playoffs.

Jared Staal, RW, 19 — Sudbury Wolves
6’3, 198 lbs
2nd round, 49th overall, 2008

The youngest of the Staal brothers, Jared took a minor step back in his fourth year with the Sudbury Wolves. His offensive production was down from the previous year as he registered 12 goals and 49 points in 59 regular-season games. After his club was eliminated from the OHL playoffs in the first round, Staal was signed to an ATO contract with the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage and has one assist in three games.

Perhaps Jared will never quite match the skill level of older brothers Eric and Jordan, but despite his offensive shortcomings, he remains an intriguing prospect for the Coyotes. At 6’3 and 198 pounds, Staal has the physical attributes of an NHL power forward, and it might just be a matter of making a more conscious effort to use that large frame on the ice at all times.

Turning 20 in August, Staal should turn pro this summer.

Michael Stone, D, 19 — Calgary Hitmen

6’2, 200 lbs
3rd round, 69th overall, 2008

Of the seven Coyotes prospects playing major junior hockey, Stone put together the finest season of the bunch. The 19-year-old defenseman registered 21 goals and 44 assists in 69 games for one of the elite teams in the WHL. Stone’s 65 points ranked him fourth in the league in scoring among defensemen and his 21 goals were the third most among league blueliners. Stone did most of his damage on the power play with 15 of his goals coming with the man advantage. His 44 power-play points were also among the league leaders. Aside from his outstanding offensive production, Stone also played a physical game, amassing 91 penalty minutes on the season. In the playoffs, he has nine points in 11 games.

Stone has blossomed into one of the most potent offensive defensemen in the CHL and he has continued to excel in the playoffs where his Calgary team is on a run in the WHL playoffs. As a third-round pick in 2008, the Coyotes have found themselves quite the steal in Stone who may very well quarterback an NHL power play in the near future. He’ll turn pro this summer.

Mathieu Brodeur D, 19 — Cape Breton Screaming Eagles

6’5, 190lbs
3rd round, 76th overall, 2008

Having completed his third year of junior hockey, the lanky Brodeur has made major strides in his young career. At 6’5 and 190 pounds, Brodeur uses his height and reach to his advantage in his own zone, and while not a big threat offensively, he has developed a more polished offensive game. In 65 games for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, Brodeur posted career highs in goals (4) assists (25) and points (29) to go along with a solid +21 rating. After his junior team was eliminated from post-season play, the 19-year-old was called up to San Antonio where he will look to gain some valuable professional experience. He has one assist in one game for San Antonio.

Brodeur was recently signed to an entry-level contract.

Jordan Szwarz, RW, 18 — Saginaw Spirit
5’10, 189 lbs
4th round, 97th overall, 2009

One of the youngest Coyotes prospects, 18-year-old Szwarz increased his goal-scoring totals this year with the Saginaw Spirit. Twenty-six goals far surpassed his 17 from last season. He only increased his point totals by three though. Szwarz, who as an assistant captain of a very young team, is a smallish winger. Szwarz plays a highly aggressive and physical game despite his lack of size, and has proven on many occasions to have little fear when it comes to sticking up for his teammates. His tireless work ethic became known throughout the OHL and he was recently named as the third hardest-working player in the Western Conference in a poll of the coaches in the league.

After being eliminated in a tough first-round series against the Kitchener Rangers, Szwarz was signed to an amateur tryout contract with San Antonio where he played one game.

Justin Weller, D, 18 — Red Deer Rebels

6’2, 205 lbs
4th round, 105th overall, 2009

Strictly a stay-at-home defenseman, Weller brings very little to the table in terms of offense. With just two goals and seven assists in 71 games this year for the Red Deer Rebels, Weller is counted on to provide solid defending as well as being a physical presence on the ice. A decent skater, Weller used his size and strength combined with good positioning and a simple approach to become one of the Rebels top shut-down defenders this year. He was -4 on a generally minus team. An extremely young team, Weller and his Red Deer teammates advanced to the WHL playoffs where they were quickly dispatched in four games.

Evan Bloodoff, LW, 19 — Kelowna Rockets

5’11, 190 lbs
6th round, 157th overall, 2009

After suffering a torn ACL which saw him sidelined until late February, Bloodoff finds himself in the middle of another playoff run with the Kelowna Rockets. A member of last year’s WHL champion and Memorial Cup runner-up, the 19-year-old managed to play in the club’s last nine regular-season games following his devastating knee injury (posting three goals) and has also played in all 12 playoff games for the Rockets (posting three assists).

Bloodoff is a feisty, grinding winger who is eligible to play in the AHL next year, but will need another season of junior after this year’s tough setback.

Tim Billingsley, D, 19 — Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors

6’1, 177 lbs
7th round, 189th overall, 2008

Billingsley is a defensive defenseman in his fifth season in the OHL. After playing as a 16-year-old in 2006, Billingsley has been a mainstay on the blue line for the Majors who have gone from a struggling franchise to a team that is two victories away from an appearance in the OHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. Known as a rangy stay-at-home defenseman, Billingsley appeared in 60 games this year for Mississauga, scoring just two goals and adding eight assists. Through nine playoffs games he has just one assist, but has provided good leadership as well as a solid and steady presence for his team in a tightly-contested series with the Ottawa 67’s.