Coyotes Prospect Notebook

By Russell Brooks

-Goaltender David LeNevue, a Hobey Baker Finalist, has not decided whether he will return to his Cornell team or pursue a professional hockey career. If LeNevue signs a contract with the Coyotes, he will most likely be paired with Jean-Marc Pelletier in Springfield of the AHL. LeNevue still has two years of college eligibility remaining at Cornell.

-Defensemen Severin Blindenbacher has signed a contract through 2004. His chances of joining the Coyotes prospects for Rookie Camp in Hull, Quebec in unlikely.

-Defensemen Beat Forster sustained a shoulder injury and will have surgery. He is expected to be out three months and will stay in Switzerland next season. Forster also signed a new contract with HC Davos in Switzerland.

-The Coyotes acquired the rights to left wing
Darren McLachlan from the Boston Bruins for a fifth round draft pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. McLachlan has until Sunday to sign a contract with the Coyotes or he will re-enter the draft. 

-The Coyotes have till June 1st to sign their remaining North American draft picks from the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. In that group includes defensemen Matthew Spiller (2nd round #31 overall), goalie Steve Belanger (7th round #210 overall), and left wing Frantisek Lukes (8th round #243 overall). 

-Seven Coyotes Prospects started the year with Augusta, the ECHL affiliate, but none finished with the team. Goalies Josh Blackburn and Colin Zulianello and forward Brent Gauvreau were unqualified busts in Lynx sweaters, and their ECHL rights were unloaded to other teams. Blackburn was sent to the Columbia Inferno, Zulianello was sent to the Charlotte Checkers, while Gauvreau was shipped to Jackson. Center Sergei Kuznetsov was jettisoned to his former team, the Mississippi Sea Wolves, because he refused to wear a visor per owner Peter Gillespie’s mandate. Captain Brad Ralph, defenseman Jay Leach and 20-goal scorer Ryan Lauzon were snatched away when the Lynx needed them most and were reassigned to Springfield of the American Hockey League for the fateful final weeks of the season.

-Goalie Josh Blackburn will not be tendered a qualifying offer this summer by the Coyotes and will become an unrestricted free agent.

-Center Martin Podlesak had his year cut short when he suffered a shoulder injury, which ended his first professional season. Podlesak went back to his native home in Melnik, Czech Republic and rehabilitated there with his family. Podlesak is expected to be in the Coyotes training camp come September.

-The following Coyotes minor league players will become free agents July 1st: Brent Gauvreau, Sergei Kuznetsov, Ryan Lauzon, Brad Ralph, and Jason Bonsignore.

-NCAA prospect Russell Spence was dismissed from the team for unspecified violations of team rules during the 2002-03 season. Spence played in 23 games and had two goals and nine assists for 11 points for Alaska-Fairbanks. The Coyotes selected Spence in the ninth round of the 2002 NHL Draft.

-The Coyotes signed LW prospect Mike Stutzel to a one-year deal. In 2002-03, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Stutzel played in 41 games with Northern Michigan University (CCHA), ranking 2nd on the team in scoring with 27-15-42 and 50 PIM. The Wildcats captain led all players in goals (27), power play goals (14) and game winning goals (7). In addition, Stutzel ranked 11th in the CCHA Conference in points, 2nd in goals, 2nd in power play goals and 3rd in game winning goals.

-Right-winger Alexander Tatarinov signed a contract with Spartak Moscow for the upcoming season.