Defense Wins Championships plus Ownership Update

By Jaime Eisner

It is no secret that the Phoenix Coyotes have a plethora of young defenseman just waiting for the opportunity to shine. That description used to fit players like Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. In this article, I will examine the defensemen in the Coyotes system that have either yet to play in the NHL or have not played more than one partial season.

Brandon Gormley (age: 20; 6’2” 190lbs): Gormley amassed 39 goals and 111 assists for 150 points and was a plus-27 in 202 QMJHL games. Gormley was the 13th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and will make a strong push to make the Coyotes top six in October. Gormley may be the most talented of the Coyotes young defensemen but his chances of making the 2012-2013 team may be hindered by his handedness as he shoots left when the Coyotes are in need of right handed shot defensemen. Gormley has an excellent first pass out of his zone and displays great stick work in his own end. He also has offensive upside with a hard shot that may work best on the point of a Coyotes power play. CHANCES OF MAKING THE TEAM OUT OF TRAINING CAMP IN MY OPINION: Good.

Connor Murphy (age: 19; 6’3” 190lbs): Murphy was the 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft at age 18. Murphy scored eight goals and added 18 assists for 26 points and a minus-3 in 35 OHL games. Murphy, the son of former NHL defenseman Gord Murphy, has NHL ready size and aggressiveness but needs to work on his skating and filling out his 6’3” frame. Murphy may be invited to training camp but he is one to two years away from the NHL. CHANCES: Very Unlikely

Michael Stone (age: 22; 6’3” 207lbs): Stone was selected 69th overall in the 2008 draft. Stone spent 13 games with the Coyotes last season scoring a goal and two assists while being a plus-7. Stone even found his way into two playoff games last season. Stone has a little bit of everything. He has good size, decent speed and can play both ends of the ice. Stone has always been an offensive force scoring 50 goals in his final three WHL seasons. Last season, Coyotes fans got to see Stone transition into a solid defender in his own end that played heavy minutes. CHANCES: High

David Rundblad (age: 21; 6’2” 189lbs): The young Swedish defenseman was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Kyle Turris. Rundblad played 31 NHL games last season including six with the Coyotes. In that time, he scored one goal and had six assists. The concern was his plus-minus ratio; it was a minus-12 (minus-1 with Coyotes). Rundblad is an offensive force that can quarterback a power play but can still develop in his own end. Rundblad could be the next Keith Yandle. CHANCES: Decent

Maxim Goncharov (age 23; 6’4” 215lbs): Goncharov was the 123rd overall pick in the 2007 draft. Goncharov is a big physical defenseman with NHL ready skills in his own zone. Goncharov leaves a lot to be desired offensively and has struggled with various injuries throughout his career. Coyotes General Manger, Don Maloney wants Goncharov to compete for a starting role in training camp. CHANCES: Unlikely

Mathieu Brodeur (age 22; 6’6” 215lbs): Brodeur was the 76th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Brodeur had a strong showing at prospect development camp back in June and may earn himself an invite to training camp. Brodeur spent time in the AHL and ECHL last season. Brodeur is solid defensively and brings great size. CHANCES: Low

NOTES: I want to sum up all the Shane Doan news from the last couple days in one sentence: Everyone has interest in signing Doan. Phoenix remains his preferred option and may look elsewhere if ownership clarity goes awry.

In regards to the aforementioned ownership situation: Monday at 5pm Arizona time, 1,862 valid signatures are due in order to put the City of Glendale’s lease agreement with prospective owner Greg Jamison to a vote in the November election. Reports indicate that there are not enough signatures to get to the 1,862 mark and that the signatures may not even be turned in at all. While the two men collecting signatures dispute the date, without the required number of signatures, Greg Jamison and the NHL can begin to finalize the sale of the Phoenix (soon to be Arizona) Coyotes.

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