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September 21, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Phoenix Coyotes

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Phoenix Coyotes Top 10 Prospects

1. Brandon Gormley, Defense
2. Connor Murphy, Defense
3. Henrik Samuelsson, Right Wing
4. Lucas Lessio, Left Wing
5. Mark Visentin, Goaltender
6. Chris Summers, Defense
7. Andy Miele, Center
8. Maxim Goncharov, Defense
9. Brendan Shinnimin, Center
10.Michael Stone, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 28th

System Overview: The Coyotes system doesn't look all that strong, but some of that is due to the graduations of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, David Rundblad, and Mikkel Boedker. Brandon Gormley is a top-tier prospect and Connor Murphy is pretty good, but the rest of their top prospects are average talents. They also lack a premier forward prospect in their pipeline.

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1. Brandon Gormley, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 02/18/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 35 GP, 10 G, 32 P (Moncton/Shawinigan-QMJHL)
Acquired: First round, 13th overall in 2010 by Phoenix

The Good: Gormley has well above-average—arguably even elite—hockey sense. NHL sources consistently praise how well he processes the game at both ends, saying he's a player who "outthinks his opponents" and never makes a bad play. He's got an elite panic threshold as he can make plays in tight windows and doesn't really react to forechecking pressure. Gormley is a decent skater with nice agility and four-way movements. He's a pretty good passer with average skill, but he moves the puck at a very impressive level, flashing high-end vision.

The Bad: Gormley isn't a really physical player and while he'll close gaps with his body, he isn't really a "mean" player. He isn't overly creative in terms of puck skills, either. He's suffered from some concerning injuries as well.

Projection: He could be a below-average top pairing defenseman.

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2. Connor Murphy, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 8th
Date of birth: 03/26/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 35 GP, 8 G, 26 P (Sarnia-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 20th overall in 2011 by Phoenix

The Good: Murphy is a smart two-way defender who plays a quiet yet effective game. He can line up against tough opponents and defend fairly well due to his size, above-average mobility, and defensive reads. Murphy has fine offensive instincts, showing the ability to be a good puck-mover, and he can join the rush at a decent level due to his speed. His footwork is impressive for his size and he generates a powerful first step.

The Bad: Murphy lacks a glaring weakness. While he has average hands, he's not a real flashy offensive player. He needs to bulk up quite a bit, but his most pressing issue is just staying healthy.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defender.

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3. Henrik Samuelsson, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/07/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 211
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 28 GP, 7 G, 23 P (Edmonton-WHL)
Acquired: First round, 27th overall in 2012 by Phoenix

The Good: Samuelsson is a high-end physical player who is a pretty developed for his age. He plays a pretty hard-nosed style and is effective protecting the puck. Samuelsson has some additional elements to his game, as he's an above-average offensive player who has the puck skills and hockey sense to create chances and keep possession.

The Bad: Skating is Samuelsson's main issue, as his top gear is underwhelming and his skating mechanics leave a little to be desired.

Projection: He could be a below-average second line forward.

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4. Lucas Lessio, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 01/23/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 206
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 66 GP, 34 G, 59 P (Oshawa-OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 56th overall in 2011 by Phoenix

The Good: Lessio is a simply tremendous skater, who is easily high-end in that area and arguably better as he picks up very quickly and can put just about any defenseman on their heels. He plays what one NHL source describes as a "direct game" as he flies into the offensive zone, making him an effective forechecker; he also likes to take the puck and drive it to the high percentage areas. Lessio has a bullet shot and can score from mid-distance. His on-ice work ethic is very good and he has the motor and physical to play a bottom-six role if needed.

The Bad: Lessio doesn't have a true glaring weakness, but his offensive puck skills are just average and he's not a true puck possessor who can create offense outside of his speed.

Projection: He could be a league-average pro, with a chance of being a scoring line forward.

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5. Mark Visentin, Goaltender
2010-11 Ranking: 10th
Date of birth: 06/07/1990
Age: 22
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 201
Catches: Left
Statistics: 42 GP, .926 SV% (Niagara-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 27th overall in 2010 by Phoenix

The Good: After winning OHL goalie of the year the prior season, Visentin got off to a slow start, but a monster second half helped result in another successful season. Visentin has solid size and moves around very well in the net. He's a very competitive goalie who regularly makes the second or third stop due to his effort level. Visentin is also a very impressive puck-handler for a goalie who can make plays as a puck-mover. He has desirable athleticism and can make some flashy saves with his lateral quickness.

The Bad: His technical game still needs some work in terms of squaring up pucks and the mechanics on his stance. Visentin's rebound control could be a little better.

Projection: He could be an average starting goaltender.

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6. Chris Summers, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 02/05/1988
Age: 23
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 28 GP, 0 G, 2 P (Portland-AHL)
Acquired: First round, 29th overall in 2006 by Phoenix

The Good: Summers is a plus skater who one source describes as having great mobility and very good skating mechanics. His defensive game is his calling card, as he checks talented forwards at a desirable level. Summers plays a firm, tough physical game and his overall defensive end reads tend to be the right ones.

The Bad: Summers has fringe offensive ability and while his puck-moving looked a little better this year in terms of his decision pace, he's a basic first-pass type of player.

Projection: He could be a third pairing defender.

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7. Andy Miele, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 04/15/1988
Age: 24
Height: 5'9''
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 69 GP, 16 G, 54 P (Portland-AHL)
Acquired: College free agent

The Good: Miele is a high-end puck-handler who can make defenders miss regularly with his ability to dangle in tight, his great creativity, and his overall offensive instincts with the puck. That sense translates as well into good vision, as he regularly flashes pretty impressive ability to distribute the puck. Miele is a hard-working individual who does whatever he can to try and overcome his size deficiency.

The Bad: Speaking of that deficiency, it's a big reason why his NHL projection is a bit uncertain. Miele had a somewhat tough first pro season despite leading his AHL team in scoring as the physical game at the pro level was a major adjustment for him. He's a decent to solid skater but lacks that top-end gear you want in a small forward.

Projection: He could be a below-average second line forward, but with a decent amount of uncertainty on that projection.

8. Maxim Goncharov, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 06/15/1989
Age: 23
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 216
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 45 GP, 1 G, 4 P (Portland-AHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 123rd overall in 2007 by Phoenix

The Good: Goncharov is a well above-average physical player with pro-level strength who regularly likes to lay the body on opposing forwards. He's very effective in one-on-one battles, showing the ability to easily muscle players off the puck. Goncharov is an above-average skater, and very impressive for a player his size. He's got a big shot that he can get through traffic moderately well.

The Bad: Goncharov has formerly been touted as an offensive defenseman, and while he can make a fine first pass, he's transformed his game as a North American pro and does not really project as an offensive player by any means. His defensive game is okay, and while it's progressed, his gap control in smaller rinks still needs some work. He's had a few injuries this season, too.

Projection: He could be an above-average third pairing defender.

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9. Brendan Shinnimin, Center
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 01/07/1991
Age: 21
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 69 GP, 58 G, 134 P (Tri-City-AHL)
Acquired: Free agent

The Good: Shinnimin led the WHL in scoring this year, albeit as an overage player. He's a very competitive and plays with a high level of energy. Despite his size, he projects to be a decent physical player at the pro level with some defensive value as well. Shinnimin has above-average to plus hockey sense as he makes great reads with and without the puck. He also has solid to above-average hands.

The Bad: Shinnimin will face a bit of challenge transitioning his style to pro hockey next year due to his size. Despite the fact he is skilled, I don't see truly dynamic enough tools to get into a top-six projection. He needs to bulk up as well.

Projection: He could be a third line center.

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10. Michael Stone, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 06/07/1990
Age: 22
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 207
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 51 GP, 9 G, 22 P (Portland-AHL)
Acquired: Third round, 69th overall in 2008 by Phoenix

The Good: Stone had a high quality second pro season. He was effective night in and night out making plays in both ends. He's a big, tough defender who can take of business in his own end with his reads, gap control, and physical work. He has solid hockey sense, and while he's not the most skilled player, he can move the puck at a decent level.

The Bad: Stone's skating is okay, and while it's developed a fair amount since his WHL days, it's still a tick below average. His offensive game looked better this year, but I don't see him as NHL average in that area.

Projection: He could be an average third pairing defender.

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The Next Five

11. Chris Brown, Right Wing: Brown skates at an impressive level and plays a high-end physical game. He's not really an offensive player although he has a little skill.

12. Niklas Tikkinen, Defense: Tikkinen is a recently converted defender who is several years away, but has the skating and puck-moving upside to be an intriguing prospect.

13. Alexander Ruutu, Right Wing: Ruutu is an above-average skater and thinker with a solid physical game and the ability to be an average offensive player.

14. James Melindy, Defense: Melindy won't blow you away with a "wow" caliber skill, but he's got average tools across the board and a fine hockey brain.

15. Jordan Martinook, Left Wing: Martinook is a strong power forward who is very competitive and could fast track to the NHL, but I'm not sold on his upside being all that great.

The Sleeper: Justin Hache, Defense

His offensive numbers with Shawinigan weren't great, but Hache has shown flashes of puck-moving upside, and with Brandon Gormley and Morgan Ellis moving on to the pro ranks, he could take the next step.

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Phoenix Coyotes Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Defense
2. David Rundblad, Defense
3. Brandon Gormley, Defense
4. Mikkel Boedker, Left Wing
5. Connor Murphy, Defense
6. Henrik Samuelsson, Right Wing
7. Lucas Lessio, Left Wing
8. Mark Visentin, Goaltender
9. Chris Summers, Defense
10. Andy Miele, Center

Ekman-Larsson has scary good tools across the board and is emerging as a legitimate number one defenseman at a very young age. David Rundblad had a bit of a rough landing in his first North American season, but there isn't a real cause for concern yet considering his tremendous upside. His defense still needs work, but he's pretty young and the Coyotes will have to be patient. Boedker is still coming along slowly although he got better as the season went on. He's a plus skater and shooter although he's more of a playmaker. He still needs to bulk up, though.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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