Coyotes Top 20 prospects

By Jeff Dahlia


Top 20 Quick Glance

1. David LeNeveu
2. Fredrick Sjostrom
3. Matthew Spiller
4. Keith Ballard
5. Enver Lisin
6. Randall Gelech
7. Matt Jones
8. Blake Wheeler
9. Kiel McLeod
10. Logan Stephenson
11. Jakub Koreis
12. Joe Callahan
13. Tyler Redenbach
14. Kevin Porter
15. Dmitri Pestunov
16. Frantisek Lukes
17. Lance Monych
18. Aaron Gagnon

19. Martin Podlesak
20. Sean Sullivan

Due to a change to the prospect criteria, Sjostrom and Spiller have rejoined the
Phoenix Coyotes prospects ranking.

Key: Current Rank (Previous Rank), Name, Position
How Acquired, Age, Height, Weight

1. (2) David LeNeveu, G
2nd Round, 46th – 2002, 21, 6’1, 170

Poised to be the future and cornerstone of the Coyotes’ success, David LeNeveu returns to the head of Phoenix’s prospect class for the current top 20 rankings.

There is no denying that LeNeveu is a very talented and poised young goaltender, who has for the second straight year, been one of the brightest spots for the desert dogs. Getting the majority of the
workload with the Utah Grizzlies, LeNeveu has put up a very respectable 2.98 GAA and .907
save percentage this season.

LeNeveu has all the tools and mindset to be a valuable addition to Phoenix. At 21
years old, he has continued to grow and progress while tending the net on very lackluster teams in the AHL.

2. (NR) Fredrick Sjostrom, RW
1st Round, 11th – 2001, 21, 6’0, 198

The slick Swede came back to the farm with Utah due to the impending labor dispute, where he has been working at getting his scoring touch back. Sjostrom is playing on the top lines and has been trying to resurrect the
team’s offensive punch. However, his linemate and good friend Jeff Taffe has lost a lot of time due to an injury.

For Sjostrom, his above average skating is one of his best attributes. Early on, he had a few setbacks adjusting to the rigors of the North American game,
though has showed signs of progress. He stated earlier this summer that one of his goals heading into this season was to be a leader on the ice among other things.
He appears to have achieved it and has been noted for using his all out attitude and skill to help out the cause.

3. (NR), Matthew Spiller, D
2nd Round, 31st – 2001, 21, 6’5, 210

As the Grizzlies continue to search for their identity, Matthew Spiller has built one up on his own. The huge stay at home defensemen has really stepped his play
up so far this season. Having had a chance to play at the NHL, Spiller has continually showed that is knows what it is going to take to get back to that level.

Even though he is a -13, this mark is about the average on the team. As a defensive unit, the group is relatively young and has
really shown its youth at times. However, Spiller has emerged as a leader out of the group and is making a bid to earn a shot when the NHL finally gets up and going.

4. (1) Keith Ballard, D
2004 trade with Colorado, 22, 5’11, 204

In the middle of his first professional season, Keith Ballard currently leads all Grizzlies defensemen in scoring.
He was also selected to represent the Grizzlies in the 2005 All-Star game in Manchester, NH.

Ballard started the season off a bit out of sync with the tempo of the AHL. However, he has made many strides and is right on track to make the transition. Playing on one of the top pairings, Ballard has also seen time on the top power play unit, where he as collected two goals and the majority of his assists.

5. (7) Enver Lisin, RW
2nd Round, 50th – 2004, 18, 6’1, 185

As many proven, high-profiled NHLers flocked to the Russian Super League, it was safe to assume that Enver Lisin’s development would slow as he lost ice time. The worst case scenario would have seen him lose his roster spot all together.
His team, Ak Bars, pulled in many key native players, as well as two recent Stanley Cup Champions in Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.

With players coming and going this season with Kazan, Lisin has continued to progress at an
exceptional rate. He is earning a respectable amount of ice time while proving he can skate with some of the
world’s most talented players. He currently has contributed 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) and
is very poised amongst the veterans. He has been a pleasant surprise early on, while playing in
one of hockey’s top leagues.

Graced with above average speed, Lisin is very good on his feet and has shown to be able to use his body effectively, as the Russian Super League has seen an increased level of physical play. He lingers a bit on the backcheck and occasionally gets caught out of position, though with a little more seasoning, it shouldn’t be a concern. He displays an uncanny
anticipation and an above average hand-eye coordination.

Lisin was amongst the fastest skaters at this year’s WJC tournament in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Skating on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin and Dmitri Pestunov, Lisin did a
good job offensively and saw time in many different scenarios as the Russian squad did not have customary power play or penalty-kill units. He chipped in four points (1 goal, 3
assists) and did a decent job getting in front of the net.

6. (9) Randall Gelech, LW
7th Round, 208th – 2003, 21, 6’1, 195

For Randall Gelech to come out and play with a level increased level of skill and ability, just goes to show how composed and hungry the former seventh round pick is.
His 11 goals are tops amongst Grizzlies, he currently ranks fifth in team scoring and is leading all Utah rookies in scoring. He is steadily making a name for himself while showing
the Phoenix scouting department’s ability to find quality in the late rounds.

More effective the harder he plays, Gelech has been a constant for the Grizzlies from day one. The determined left winger is an effective two-way player and is willing to do all the small things to get the job done. If he continues to produce and develop at this rate, it should be more
than obvious that Phoenix is going to give the first pro some serious consideration down the road.

7. (3) Matt Jones, D
3rd Round, 80th – 2002, 21, 6’1, 210

Playing on the top defensive unit with Matt Greene (EDM), both Matt Jones and the University of North
Dakota Fighting Sioux have seen their share of misfortunes this season. After losing some players to injury early on and experiencing some inconsistent play, the team has collectively taken themselves out of a handful of games.

Jones, like many players around NCAA hockey, had an hard time with obstruction as the season stated. Getting caught out of position had also added to his frustration, but lately he has been very effective for the University of North Dakota. It doesn’t appear that he will match last season’s point surge, though he has been more of a factor as of late.

8. (5) Blake Wheeler, C
1st Round, 5th – 2004, 18, 6’3, 185

Blake Wheeler made a significant step in his development by joining the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL. He has
proven to be a very smart, disciplined player at both ends of the ice. Being Green Bay’s go-to guy, he does a good of keeping himself within striking distance
on the attack.

Leading his team with 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 37 games played, Wheeler was selected to and played in the USHL All-Star game in Grand
Forks, North Dakota. Suiting up for Team World, he was able to tally an assist in the 5-3 win.

Even though moving to the USHL from high school has a great move for his development, the true test
will be ahead of him. He has played his part on a team that has not been able to live up to
its potential. Playing under a microscope for the University of Minnesota next
season will give fans, scouts and the Coyotes brass a good sense of how Wheeler is coming along.

9. (8) Kiel McLeod, C
Signed as Free Agent – 2003, 22, 6’5, 216

After getting off to a slow start like the rest of the Utah Grizzlies, Kiel McLeod has been coming on strong as of late. Leading the team in
power play goals, McLeod has been doing a good job of putting pressure down low, while on the forecheck. McLeod obtains the majority of his goals from working hard, getting in front of the net and burying rebounds.

A strong player with good work ethic, McLeod needs to keep working on his skating, which is the key to making and playing consistently in the NHL. He has the body and the mindset, however he needs to
improve on faceoffs, being a constant on the backcheck and sticking to his assignments.

10. (11) Logan Stephenson, D
2nd Round, 35th – 2004, 18, 6’2, 185

Hindered by a preseason injury, Logan Stephenson still impressed many with his ability to jump back into the flow with Tri-City in the WHL. Stephenson has helped out a blueline that also boasts the likes of Shawn Belle (DAL) and Clayton Stoner (MIN).

The Americans are playing under expectations, where they were a early season pick to led the U.S. Division in the Western Conference. A lack of chemistry and on-
ice cohesiveness have plagued the Americans, but players like Stephenson continue to shine.

Stephenson plays a simplified game and works well within his ability. He is a good skater that sticks to his assignments. His biggest attribute is the physical style of play he demonstrates all over the ice, especially in his own zone. He is an above average positional player and does an effective job of taking opposing players out of the play. To date, he is one point away from matching his season high in points (11), but Stephenson is still not considered an offensive threat.

11. (4) Jakub Koreis, C
1st Round, 19th – 2002, 20, 6’2, 205

The 2002 first round pick came into this summer as the most improved skater, but Jakub Koreis has yet to be a big factor in the Grizzlies picture. In his first season in the professional ranks,
he will continue to adapt to the highest level of hockey in the North America. Koreis is still getting the much needed experience.

Even though he is at a good weight and height, Koreis may need to add a little more muscle to work effectively and a lot more consistently. He is a good
faceoff man and does a good job of handling the puck. He has decent vision and anticipation while on the attack.

(11) Joe Callahan, D
3rd Round, 70th – 2002, 21, 6’2, 200

Playing with the Utah Grizzlies this season, Callahan is the another defensive link (along with Spiller and Ballard), who the Coyotes project to be their core of rearguards of the future.

Not having the greatest statistical showing in his first full season in the AHL, Callahan continues to work hard
to help turn things around for Utah. He is a good strong skater, who more times
than not makes solid passes on the breakout. He has a great physical presence, however, he needs to work on his overall consistency.

13. (6) Tyler Redenbach, C
3rd Round, 77th – 2003, 20, 5’11, 184

Going into this 2004-05 season with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL, the high-powered center knew that this time around was going to be very different from the 2003-04 season,
when he led the entire WHL in scoring. Redenbach anticipated there was going to be an increased leadership role with an extremely young team this season. Missing some key components from last year’s roster, he took an approach to round out his overall game and address the need to be more positionally sound and more
than competent while defending his end of the ice.

Even though he continued to put points on the board for the Broncos, nothing could save the team from their inexperience and
youth as they played out the first part of the season in cellar. When it was more than apparent that Swift Current was not going to be able to make a formidable playoff push, the star player
Redenbach was dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for R.J. Larochelle, David Murray and Justin Cruse. He has only seen a few games on his new squad.

(NR) Kevin Porter, C
4th Round, 119th – 2004, 18, 5’11, 194

Making great strides in his development this season, Michigan forward Kevin
Porter heads the list of newcomers to the Coyotes Top 20. One of only two freshman playing for the Wolverines this year,
Porter has been a valuable addition to an already loaded squad.

A hard worker all over the ice, Porter has been skating on one of the team’s top
lines with T.J. Hensick and Mike Brown (VAN). He is a very competent player
who can play both ends of the ice with success. He won’t dazzle you with his
goal scoring, but he is a very strong, consistent player that does all the little things.

Porter came out of the U.S. NTDP and was one of the most complete members of Team
USA in the 2005 WJC. He added five well earned points (3 goals, 2 assists),
and was rewarded with a good amount of ice time in critical special team situations.

15. (20) Dmitri Pestunov, C
3rd Round, 80th – 2003, 20, 5’9, 196

After playing the past three years in the Metallurg Magnitogorsk system, Dmitri Pestunov was sent to play with Moscow Spartak squad. He will remain with Spartak for the remainder of the season, so Metallurg MG could land Fedor Federov (VAN) to help increase their chances for the playoffs. For Pestunov, he departs one of the top teams in the league, to the exact opposite in Spartak.

Pestunov is a very crafty centerman who should be a welcomed addition to his new team.
Although short at 5’9, he is well grounded and has a great height to weight ratio. The stocky playmaker can work through traffic and as has shown in the past,
is very creative and finds ways to create offense. He is a good skater and a competent playing both ends of the ice.

Pestunov played on the top line with Ovechkin and Lisin at the WJC this year. While anchoring the line, he showed pure dominance setting up chances at even strength and did an equally impressive job running the power play from the far side on the half boards. He makes precise tape to tape passes in traffic and anticipates extremely well. He has a cat’s reflexes
and decent speed.

16. (12) Frantisek Lukes, LW
8th Round, 243rd – 2001, 22, 5’10, 170

There is no question that Frank Lukes is a talented prospect who can out stickhandle the best of them. Coupled with his speed and above average skating ability, he has been skating around the ECHL with a bullseye on his back. He has had his share of troubles finding the back of the net early on this season,
though he is definitely the most talent player with Idaho. Tapping that jaw dropping talent, Lukes has been able
get on the scoresheet with more frequency.

Lukes is playing on the top lines, however, the team as a whole has slumped and has had its
share of misfortunes. Head Coach John Olver has continually dealt with the loss of players
due to injuries and the lack of cohesiveness at times. Lukes started off very slow and has been
coming on stronger.

With the added confidence coming from Olver, Lukes has shown to be a very effective forward, while playing on Idaho’s top
power play unit. As long as he continues to trust his instincts and ability, Lukes should
be coming back onto Utah’s radar shortly.

17. (17) Lance Monych, RW
4th Round, 97th – 2002, 20, 6’1, 200

Lance Monych headed back to the WHL this season to the top line of the Brandon Wheat
Kings. He is currently ranked in the top five in scoring on the team, which boasts other prospects in Ryan Stone (PIT), Eric Fehr (WSH) and Tim Konsorada (CBJ). Jakub Sindel (CHI) joined the team towards the start of the year and has added some firepower for the
sixth ranked team in the Eastern Conference.

Monych has the tools to be a good player. Not able to step up and shine against advanced talent this summer in the Rookie Tournament and training camps, it shows he has a lot of work to do. He tends to be very hot and cold player. Sometimes he is very effective, throws the body and gets dirty. Other times he floats, gets caught out of position and is a step or two off his linemates.

18. (NR) Aaron Gagnon, C
8th Round, 240th – 2004, 18, 5’10, 185

Steadily progressing with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL, Aaron Gagnon has catapulted to front of the pack
in the Pacific Northwest. Having a career season, Gagnon currently leads the T-Birds in scoring.

Characterized as one of the most consistent and effective in all areas by his coach, Rob Sumner, Gagnon is playing on the
team’s top line with another prospect in Ladislav Scurko (PHI) and free agent Derek Couture. He is very strong in the
faceoff circle and at both ends of the ice. Gagnon is used in all situations and is looked to by Sumner in clutch situations. He has good vision and anticipation of where his linemates are and uses his skill
effectively. He does get thrown around a bit because of his size, but Gagnon does not give up and gets his nose very dirty at every chance.
He is calm under fire.

“He has been putting up good numbers and he was by far a solid player going back to last year,” said teammate and 2005 eligible forward, Chris Durand about Gagnon. “I don’t think he gets the recognition throughout the league with the big hype and hoopla. He’s a great player and can put the puck in the net.”

(13) Martin Podlesak, C
2nd Round, 45th – 2001, 22, 6’6, 200

There have been lofty expectations for Martin Podlesak since he jumped into the North American forum going back to the 2000-01 season. His seemed to progress at a good rate until
he turned pro during his 2002-03. He has been hampered by injuries throughout his pro career,
perhaps due to his lean stature. He has never put on the expected muscle to help him work through the rigors of the pro game.

Going into this season, the expectations were still in place after a lackluster season with the Springfield Falcons in the AHL. No more than
10 games into this season, he went down with a shoulder injury, that has sidelined him to date. With his latest setback, his stock in the system continues to drop. Playing a total of 70 games over the past three seasons, his development continues to suffer the most. He has yet to remain effective when he has been healthy.

20. (15) Sean Sullivan, D
9th Round, 272nd – 2003, 20, 6’0, 190

Sean Sullivan finds himself this season playing on a reloaded Boston University squad that has climbed to the top of the standings in Hockey East. On a team that headlines explosive forwards like Chris Bourque (WSH), John Laliberte (VAN), David Van der Gulik, and Brad Zancanaro, Sullivan has done a great job defending for the Terriers.

He plays very aggressive up front and works extremely hard on the backcheck, most notably down low and in the corners. Even though his positioning has been suspect at times, Sullivan is actually one of the better
defenders among prospects when it comes to getting his body in between the net and the puck. He
also needs to work on his patience when it comes to moving the puck out of his zone. Collectively, the team has shown some weakness on the breakout, starting deep in their own zone.

With the emergence of more impact players for head coach Jack Parker, Sullivan has had seen the emphasis in the offensive zone curtailed.

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