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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.31.2015 / 6:16 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Sullivan is in his first season with the Coyotes as the team’s Development Coach. He oversees all pro player development including working with coaches and players in the Coyotes’ minor league system. Recently, Steve spoke with to discuss the progress of the team’s top prospects:


PROSPECT: Henrik Samuelsson
DRAFTED: 2012 (27th overall)
CURRENT TEAM: Portland Pirates (AHL)


"You see strengths of Henrik's father (Ulf) in him. He's not quite as nasty as his father was on the ice but you see his compete level."

"He is a very strong hockey player. His vision is very good and he sees the ice very well. He is tenacious, works hard and protects the puck very well."

"He's good along the half wall and on the power play and he's not afraid to get gritty in front of the net so I'd say from the hash marks down, he is NHL ready."

"The game of hockey has evolved to where it's very much a speed game. The teams that are successful play a very fast tempo, straight north and south. I think the only thing lacking in Henrik's game is his footwork. He needs more time skating this summer, breaking down that stride and rebuilding it."

"We are going to see Henrik in training camp next year. I think it is a big summer for Henrik, he is going to have a whole year of pro under his belt. This is where he will have to make a choice to take the next level and I think he is ready for it. I talked to him and he understands where he is at and what needs to get done and that we are looking forward to him in the future."

POSTED ON Monday, 03.23.2015 / 4:40 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Sullivan is in his first season with the Coyotes as the team’s Development Coach. He oversees all pro player development including working with coaches and players in the Coyotes’ minor league system. Recently, Steve spoke with to discuss the progress of the team’s top prospects:


PROSPECT: Brendan Perlini
DRAFTED: 2014 (12th overall)
CURRENT TEAM: Niagara IceDogs (OHL)


"Brendan Perlini had an unbelievable rookie camp (last summer), stuck around in main camp and broke his hand, which set him back a little bit. He came back and is hitting his stride now. He’s getting back to game speed and playing well (in the OHL)."

"He is a pure goal scorer. Brendan knows where to be on the ice to get the puck, he has a quick release and a hard shot and he scores goals. That is what he is built to do. He loves to do it all over the ice and has a knack for the net, which is fun to see."

"He has some amazing speed and is a very fast hockey player. He's a big boy, tall, and will fill in to that body as he continues to get older."

Brendan Perlini.

"He's curious about the game. Our conversations are at length. He has a lot of questions about the future and what he needs to do to get here (to the NHL). He wants to analyze his game until the end to do all that is necessary to be the best player that he can be."

"He isn’t overconfident, but he believes in himself and that is great. Even when we sent him down with a broken hand he was wondering what else he could’ve done to stay as an 18-year-old and I had to tell him he had a broken hand and that he really didn’t get an opportunity to play with us because of it and to go back and do what he was doing (in the OHL).

"He really wants to play (in the NHL). That's his dream and goal, and he will put the work in to make that happen. He believes in himself, knows he has the ability and wants the opportunity to make the next step."

"There is definitely a spot for Brendan coming down the road what with his size and speed and awareness of where to go, and with his release and ability to score goals."

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:31 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Sullivan is in his first season with the Coyotes as the team’s Development Coach. He oversees all pro player development including working with coaches and players in the Coyotes’ minor league system. Recently, Steve spoke with to discuss the progress of the team’s top prospects:


PROSPECT: Tyler Gaudet
DRAFTED: Not drafted
CURRENT TEAM: Portland Pirates (AHL)


"Tyler Gaudet is a very smart two-way hockey player. He is a centerman, a big body, and very good on faceoffs."

"Tyler has come into his own a little later than most. He is a non-drafted hockey player that we signed out of Junior hockey. Talking to his junior coaches, they didn’t pick him up until his 18th year, so he is a little later and he is figuring out the game himself."

"He is so sound and structured with his defensive game and hopefully we can work on his offensive ability and scoring ability and get more chances for him. We are trying to work on his offensive side so he can become a great second line centerman and play against the other team’s top goal scorer and contribute on the offensive side. He has a little bit of work to do but it is great to see his development so far."

Tyler Gaudet. Photo by Getty Images.

"He is a player you can count on late in the game, and a great penalty killer. His hockey IQ is very high and he is definitely an NHL prospect and a player we will see in the NHL in the future."

"I watched his game when he was up in the NHL with us and I liked what I saw. He wasn’t quite ready yet to stick around, but I think it is just a matter of time. Like Henrik Samuelsson, they just need to go down and really learn the pro game and get a little more consistent. If they can do that at the American League level then they can stick around. It’s a big step from Junior to the American League and a much bigger step from the American to the NHL. It’s great he got a taste of it, and he understands what he needs to work on, and that the game is played at a much faster pace, but he is doing great so far."

"He is opening up doors and giving himself chances to improve himself because of the type of person he is. Whenever I am down at his practices, you see the time he is putting in to work on the craft and give himself a chance to be an NHLer."

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:27 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Sullivan is in his first season with the Coyotes as the team’s Development Coach. He oversees all pro player development including working with coaches and players in the Coyotes’ minor league system. Recently, Steve spoke with to discuss the progress of the team’s top prospects:


PROSPECT: Christian Dvorak
DRAFTED: 2014 (58th overall)
CURRENT TEAM: London Knights (OHL)


"Christian Dvorak is probably the surprise of the draft last year. We took him late in the second round and I was astonished he was still around. He was definitely a steal, and we really look forward to see what becomes of him."

"He is a treat to watch play. He's a true centerman - always in the right position, giving his defensemen outlets and helping out wingers in his own end, but he has a knack for the net and scoring goals and making plays. His hockey IQ is maybe the best I’ve seen in the prospects."

Christian Dvorak. Photo by Dave Vest.

"He’s been playing very well, enjoying the success and his linemates. He is taking it in stride. He’s extremely humbled and a very quiet person. A lot of our conversations is me talking and him listening. He's very curious about the game and is always asking questions, always wanting to get more information and seeing what needs to be better. He knows there’s a lot of upside to his hockey game, but he is enjoying the learning process."

"He's 6-foot-1, not overly thick or physical, but always in the right place. He is still young at 18 years old, and he will definitely get thicker and stronger over these next couple of years."

"There are not a lot of holes in his game, it's just a matter of taking the next step. Top junior players like Christian are so much better that they can get away with things, so it's just a matter of them keeping the good habits, playing the right way, playing a 200-foot game and not cheating too much."

POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 2:24 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Sullivan is in his first season with the Coyotes as the team’s Development Coach. He oversees all pro player development including working with coaches and players in the Coyotes’ minor league system. Recently, Steve spoke with to discuss the progress of the team’s top prospects:


DRAFTED: 2013 (12th overall)
CURRENT TEAM: London Knights (OHL)


"Max is an extremely dynamic offensive player. The stuff he can do on the ice is hard to teach and only a very few people can get away with what he does on the ice."

"He is an extreme competitor and works hard all over the ice, but he is a talent offensively and something that we need in the near future to score and set up plays. He will be something great coming on."

"He was named captain of London and took on a leadership role, which he didn’t really have before, and took strides in that area. Talking with (teammate Christian) Dvorak, those guys really respect him as their captain."

"How fast will we see Max? Very soon. He won’t need much more seasoning. Going back to Junior was the best thing for him. (It was) probably tough for him to go back, but he has passed it with flying colors."

Max Domi. Photo by Getty Images.

"He is arguably the best player in Canada as a 19 year old. At World Juniors he was probably the MVP on everybody’s tongue across the country. When I go up there everybody wants to talk about Domi and how great he has been."

"He has been great with the media, has the right answers and knows how to speak with them. He will be a big centerpiece when he comes to the NHL and it won’t be a distraction for him."

"I love talking to him because his self-analysis is right on. He is not fooling anybody and he knows when he is good or not good, and it is more me reminding him than teaching and it is really fun to talk to him."

"He is just a really good kid, understands it and is a good person. I think he is humbled with all the success he has had so far and is just relishing the chance to play. He loves the game of hockey and just wants to play in the NHL. That is his dream."

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.25.2015 / 10:06 PM

COLUMBUS – Playing in the NHL All-Star Game for the first time in his career on Sunday, Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson notched an assist for Team Foligno in a 17-12 loss to Team Toews at a sold-out Nationwide Arena.

Photo by Getty Images.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, was credited with the secondary assist on teammate Bobby Ryan’s goal at 8:23 of the third period. The goal pulled Team Foligno to within 14-10 at the time it was scored.

“It was a good experience to come out here and be around tough players,” Ekman-Larsson said. “Everybody was so nice and it was just fun to be around everybody.”

Team Foligno Head Coach Darryl Sutter paired Ekman-Larsson with defenseman Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets.

Ekman-Larsson played 16:56 and was minus-5 in the game, which set a record for most goals scored in an NHL All-Star Game (29).

Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Bobby Ryan. Photo by Getty Images.

“It was fun,” Ekman-Larsson said. “(Minus-5) is not a very good stat but I had a good time and I just tried to have fun out there and make some good passes. It’s hard to play (defense) in these kind of games but I think everybody put a good show together.”

Before coming to this game, Ekman-Larsson said he hoped to make some new friends at this event.

“I’m a quiet guy,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I probably could have done a little bit better (meeting people) but everybody here’s so nice. I was just happy to be around them.”

Ekman-Larsson will now rejoin the Coyotes as they begin a five-game road trip that starts Tuesday night in Philadelphia. He returns to the team as its second-leading goal scorer with 12.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click HERE to watch Ekman-Larsson's assist.

POSTED ON Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 11:51 PM

COLUMBUS – Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson turned in a flawless performance on Saturday night in his two events at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition at Nationwide Arena.

Photo by Getty Images.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, was playing for Team Foligno as it battled Team Toews. He competed without error as a stick-handler during the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay and then scored twice on two attempts in the event’s finale – the Discover NHL Shootout.

Team Foligno beat Team Toews 25-19.

Ekman-Larsson is making his first appearance as an NHL All-Star. His performance on Saturday night was quite impressive for a first-timer in this high-profile setting.

"Everything was special," Ekman-Larsson said when asked to name the highlight of his night. "It was just fun to be on the ice. The fans are great here and it was a good experience for me. I would like to do that again."

During the shootout, Ekman-Larsson earned his team valuable points by beating Team Toews goalie Roberto Luongo with two shots. His second goal was scored with a special “Discover Puck” that was worth more points to his team.

"I just wanted to fake and see if he reacted and put it up top," Ekman-Larsson said. "I got lucky twice so it was fun."

As a "stick-handler" in the Skills Challenge Relay, Ekman-Larsson had to keep control of the puck through a series of six pucks placed just inches apart. He nailed it.

Photo by Getty Images.

"I was real nervous so I just told myself to slow it down and take your time," Ekman-Larsson said. "I didn’t want to mess that up. It went pretty good."

Before the Skills Competition, Ekman-Larsson entered the arena via the Red Carpet and posed for photos and signed autographs. It was a fun experience for Ekman-Larsson, who co-owns a Sweden-based clothing line named OEL of Sweden.

"I did a pretty good job on the Red Carpet," Ekman-Larsson said with a smile. "I think I looked pretty nice so I’m happy with my performance there."

The All-Star weekend concludes on Sunday at 3 p.m. (Arizona time) with the All-Star Game. Ekman-Larsson again will skate with Team Foligno.

POSTED ON Friday, 01.23.2015 / 10:52 PM

COLUMBUS - Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was selected by Team Foligno in the 15th round of the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday night at the Greater Columbus Civic Center.

"It was a good experience," Ekman-Larsson told "They told me before that I couldn't get picked last so that was a big relief. I had a great time in the back room so I didn't mind staying there a little longer."

Ekman-Larsson will be one of six defensemen on his team, which is captained by Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The others are Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Burns and Kevin Shattenkirk.

NOTE: Click HERE to view full rosters.

Team Foligno gets to wear the black All-Star sweaters while Team Toews will wear white in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game.

"I like the black jersey because I don't like white gloves, so that fits me perfect," Ekman-Larsson said.

Ekman-Larsson will be one of 20 first-time participants in this year's NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at Nationwide Arena. Like many, he enjoyed the TV broadcast of the Fantasy Draft and got a kick out of how Alexander Ovechkin lobbied to be the last pick so he could win a car. It didn't happen.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on Friday night. 
Ekman-Larsson said he looks forward to what Ovechkin may have up his sleeve for the rest of the weekend.

"It's going to be fun to be around Ovechkin for two days and see what (else) he can bring to the table," he said.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, is attending the event co-leading the NHL’s defensemen in goal scoring. He and three others - Byfuglien, Erik Johnson and Dennis Wideman - have scored a League-high 12 goals this season. Ekman-Larsson also leads NHL defensemen with eight power-play goals and leads all NHL skaters with six game-winning goals.

Next up is the Skills Competition on Saturday night. Ekman-Larsson will learn which event he gets to participate in on Saturday morning.

"Hopefully I'm not going to skate around in laps," Ekman-Larsson said with a smile. "Other than that, I'm just going to do what they tell me to do."

POSTED ON Thursday, 01.22.2015 / 6:07 PM

COLUMBUS – While his Coyotes teammates enjoyed the second day of a five-day hiatus from the season, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson traveled from Arizona to the NHL All-Star Game on Thursday.

Ekman-Larsson, 23, awoke at 7 a.m. for a 10:30 a.m. flight and was all smiles as he checked his hockey gear as luggage at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and then flew commercially to the League’s star-studded event. While waiting to depart, he signed a few autographs, took some photos and chatted with fans who recognized him.

Ekman-Larsson is the only Swede selected to play at this year’s All-Star Game. He won’t be lonely here though because his parents have made the trip from Sweden to watch him as the festivities unfold all weekend. The three of them planned to dine out on Thursday night.

“I’m really looking forward to this,” Ekman-Larsson said from his hotel’s lobby.

“It’s going to be a good time and it’s going to be nice to see my parents again and spend some time with them.”

Ekman-Larsson plans to visit with former teammate Radim Vrbata during the weekend. He also is hoping to get to know other All-Stars whom he knows only from competing against them.

“I’m going to try to make some new friends here,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s going to be fun to be around (Sidney) Crosby. He’s a big superstar in this league and I’ve played against him a couple times. It’s just going to be fun to be around him, and all the players, but especially him.”

Like the other All-Stars in town, Ekman-Larsson will learn which All-Star team he will play for on Friday night when team captains Nick Foligno and Jonathan Toews select players during a televised Fantasy Draft on NBC Sports Network (at 6 p.m. Arizona time). Once selected for a team, Ekman-Larsson will later learn which Skills Competition event he will take part in on Saturday night on NBC Sports Network (at 5 p.m. Arizona time).

“I’m pretty nervous about the draft,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I think it’s a good chance that I get picked last and I don’t want that to happen.”

The All-Star Game itself will be played Sunday on NBC Sports Network (at 3 p.m. Arizona time).

Ekman-Larsson is the fifth defenseman in team history to be invited to play in an NHL All-Star Game. The others are Oleg Tverdovsky, Teppo Numminen, Ed Jovanovski and Keith Yandle.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 5:24 PM

GLENDALE – Oliver Ekman-Larsson can’t wait to participate in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game and its festivities this weekend in Columbus.

"It’s a big honor for me to go there and represent the Coyotes," Ekman-Larsson said. "It’s going to be a lot of fun to be around the top players in this league. I’ve always wanted to go to the All-Star Game. I want to take my game to the next level and I’m hoping this experience will help me do that."


Ekman-Larsson, 23, will attend the event as the NHL’s top goal-scoring defenseman. He and Colorado’s Erik Johnson each have lit the lamp 12 times this season. Ekman-Larsson also leads the League with game-winning goals.

"It's been a mixed bag for OEL because he struggled a bit early in the season," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "But the things he's accomplished this year, even though our team hasn't played as well, are very much All-Star worthy."

The All-Star Game festivities include the player draft to determine the two All-Star Game rosters on Friday, and then red carpet walk and skills competition on Saturday. The game itself is Sunday at 3 p.m. Arizona time on NBC.

Ekman-Larsson says he’s looking forward to all of the events, but he’s crossing his fingers he isn’t the last player drafted on Friday. Toronto’s Phil Kessel was the final player selected at the inaugural All-Star fantasy player draft in 2011 and he received plenty of playful ribbing from his peers and friends and family for earning that distinction. On the plus side, Kessel also was awarded a new car.

"Hopefully I won’t get picked last," Ekman-Larsson said with a smile. "I don’t need a new car. I’m happy with mine."

Regarding the skills competition, Ekman-Larsson said he’d prefer to participate in a puck-shooting or stick-handling competition rather than one that features skating, but he’ll gladly do whatever his team captain assigns him to do.

Photo by Norm Hall.

Surprisingly, Ekman-Larsson will be the only Swede participating in this year’s NHL All-Star Game. While that disappoints him, he said it would give him a chance to branch out a little bit and hopefully make some new friends.

"It would be fun to have another Swede there, but there are a lot of good players in this league," Ekman-Larsson said. "I’m just going to try to hang out with as many people as I can and have a good time."

One Swede who will be with Ekman-Larsson in spirit is Erik Clarberg. Ekman-Larsson wears sweater No. 23 with the Coyotes as a tribute to Clarberg, a friend and former teammate in Sweden who passed away from illness in 2006.

"He was two years older than me but we still practiced together a lot and we had a lot of the same friends," Ekman-Larsson said. "He was the captain of one of the teams I played on growing up and a guy I always looked up to because he was just a great guy on and off the ice and a really good hockey player. When I was younger I wanted to be like him."

Ekman-Larsson’s parents are planning to travel from Sweden and attend the All-Star Game. He said their presence is going to greatly enhance the experience.

Photo by Getty Images.

"They’re happy for me and having them there will feel right because they’re a huge part of why I am getting to play in the All-Star Game," Ekman-Larsson said. "Plus it will be fun for them to come and to see how everything works."

Ekman-Larsson’s teammates are excited he’s getting the chance to showcase his skills in the All-Star setting. Forward Mikkel Boedker, who is Ekman-Larsson’s best friend on the Coyotes, said he expects his pal to fit in quite nicely among the NHL’s elite players.

"He’s proven he can play at a world-class level in real games so I think he’ll do just fine at the All-Star Game," Boedker said. "He has all the skills to compete with those players."

He added: "It’s not easy to be an All-Star in this league and at a young age he’s proven that he’s worthy. I’m very proud of him. We all are."

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