Photo: Selected sixth overall in 2009, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has developed into a top-pairing defenseman and ice-time leader for the Coyotes (courtesy of Derik Hamilton/Icon SMI)
The Phoenix Coyotes changed in the 2009 offseason. Before, they were a mediocre, punch line of a club that could always be found toward the bottom of the standings. After, they were playoff fixtures, culminating in a deep run to the Western Conference Finals in 2011-12.
Photo: Chris Brown has been one of the top forwards for the Portland Pirates in 2013-14, which has earned him time with the NHL club (courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
Legal squabbles between the Board of Trustees of Portland, Maine’s Cumberland County Civic Center and the ownership group of their primary tenant, the Portland Pirates, have relegated the team to the northern reaches of Maine for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, on the ice, the Phoenix Coyotes AHL affiliate finds themselves in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings.
Photo: Rookie pro Lucas Lessio broke camp with the Coyotes but was assigned to AHL Portland after three NHL games (courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Phoenix Coyotes may have the most unbalanced prospect pool in the league. On defense, they have more legitimate players than places to put them. At forward, they may be forced to convert their young centers to address the scarcity of talent on both wings.
Photo: Defenseman Connor Murphy, who will compete for a spot on Team USA at the 2013 WJC, is one of three first-round picks on the Phoenix Coyotes' blue line depth chart. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
As has been the case over the past few years, the Phoenix Coyotes prospect pool is built around their strong group of defensive prospects. Elite talents like Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson quickly became franchise cornerstones and gave way to a new crop led by the likes of first-round studs Brandon Gormley, David Rundblad, and Connor Murphy.