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The Desert Dog Blog: 2012 Draft Recap

Sunday, 06.24.2012 / 1:32 PM MT / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
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The Desert Dog Blog: 2012 Draft Recap

GLENDALE – The Coyotes added eight players - four defensemen, three forwards and a goalie - to the mix this weekend at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.

It was a busy weekend for the scouting staff, which was led by first-year Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle.

Rick Knickle

“Well, it’s such a crapshoot out there at times,” Knickle told me outside the Consol Energy Center a few minutes after the draft ended. “You don’t know what’s going to be left and how you’re going to work things, but overall we targeted a lot of guys and we ended up getting them. And having the right list and the right order is really what it’s all about. For us, we really needed to pick up some assets as far as skill guys. We got a lot of variation - tough defensemen, skill defensemen, a couple of kids that are good power forwards and I think we did a real good job. (And) we got a goalie late. It’s a key thing that you really have to understand what’s out there. We targeted a lot of guys and we got what we wanted. That’s exactly what it’s all about.”

After the draft, I also spoke with Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney to get his thoughts on what transpired.

• Click here to listen to what Maloney had to say.

What follows is a breakdown of the eight young players the Coyotes selected this weekend in Pittsburgh. FYI, the Coyotes went to Pittsburgh with nine picks in hand but traded one (81st overall) to host Pittsburgh as part of the deal that sent defenseman Zbynek Michalek back to Phoenix.

First Round
Pick No. 27: Henrik Samuelsson, forward
Bio/Stats: Click here
Twitter handle:

Samuelsson is a well-traveled player. Only 18 years old, he already has played youth hockey in Scottsdale, for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., for MoDo – the Swedish Elite League team his father, Ulf, now coaches – and the Edmonton Oil Kings, who won the Western Hockey League title this season.

Samuelsson began playing the 2011-12 season in the Swedish Elite League on smaller rinks and against players much older than he is. He opted to return to North American hockey in January. In 28 regular-season games, Samuelsson notched seven goals and 16 assists for Edmonton. In 17 postseason appearances, he notched four goals and 10 assists.

“I definitely think (coming back to North America) paid off for me,” Samuelsson said. “I played good when I came back to Edmonton. I thought I played really well. So, I think that really helped me out.”

General Manager Don Maloney: “He’s always had this little edge to him, which is a good thing… We value hockey sense and we value courage and he’s got a lot of both… He’s got great hands. As a 14-year-old, he had an NHL shot.”

Related Content: 

• Click here to watch Samuelsson’s official draft profile
• Click here to watch Samuelsson get drafted
• Click here to watch Samuelsson react to getting drafted
• Click here to watch General Manager Don Maloney discuss Samuelsson
• Click here to see a photo gallery of Samuelsson at the draft

Second Round

Pick No. 58: Jordan Martinook, forward
Bio/Stats: Click here
Twitter handle: @Martyman17

Martinook scored 40 goals for Vancouver of the Western Hockey League in 2011-12 after scoring just 11 the year before. He’s a power forward who the Coyotes see playing center as a pro.

“I think skating is probably one of my biggest assets; driving wide and just getting to the net and driving the net as hard as I can,” Martinook said. “I also have developed in the last couple years to be a responsible defensive player as well.”

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “Jordan is a guy that I really targeted from last year. I live in Vancouver, so he’s a guy that I see quite a bit. Certain things about him just kept developing. He went from 11 goals last year to 40 this year… He’s a guy that I think is going to go right into the American League this year and he has a chance to play some games for us. He plays that style of play; he’s a real power forward, good with the puck, goes to the net… He’s a centerman, which is what we need. He plays all situations… We targeted him and we thought that he may not be there at 58. We kind of crossed our fingers and he was there.”

Related Content

• Click here to listen to Martinook react to getting drafted

Third Round
Pick No. 88: James Melindy, defenseman
Bio/Stats: Click here
Twitter handle: @Meller43

Raised in Goulds, near St. Johns on the southeastern coast of Newfoundland, Melindy jumped in the draft rankings after a solid second half of the 2011-12 season playing for Moncton.

“I think I’m a puck-moving defenseman, and a good skater with good mobility,” said Melindy, who idolized NHL defenseman Jay Bouwmeester as a young player. “I still need to fill out a little bit, but I think I bring a physical side to my game and I play with a bit of an edge.”

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “Melindy is a a big, right-handed shot defenseman who is mobile. He’s from Newfoundland - I’m a Maritimer myself - and a lot of guys who come off 'The Rock' have that character about them… I know the coaches in Moncton real well and they speak very highly of him. He’s a real good mobile skating, developing player. He’s getting to be a little bit tougher, a little bit more physical for his size. He’s a good player… I really appreciated that when he was playing in the playoffs they matched him up against Nathan MacKinnon, who will probably be the first or second overall pick (in next year’s draft).”

Related Content

• Click here to watch Melindy answer questions on NHL Network
• Click here to listen to Melindy react to getting drafted
• Click here to see a photo gallery of Melindy at the draft

Fourth Round
Pick No. 102: Rhett Holland, defenseman
Bio/Stats: Click here
Twitter handle: @rholland7

Holland, who became a defenseman as a young player because he loved all the extra ice time, notched three goals and seven assists in 47 games with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season.

He likens his style to NHL defenseman Matt Greene; not flashy but highly effective.

“I’m just kind of a grinder-type defenseman,” Holland said. “That’s pretty much my role and it always has been my whole life.”

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “Holland played Tier 2 in the Alberta Junior League in Okotoks, which is just south of Calgary. He’s going to Michigan State next year... After we lost Harrison Ruopp in the trade for Zbynek Michalek, I felt we needed to replace him. So, we took Rhett Holland and I believe he is a better skater and maybe meaner (than Ruopp). He’s nasty, really tough, but he can play. He’s got some ability, he can move. His rights are owned by Regina of the Western Hockey League, so he could possibly go that route. I never want to push a kid one way or the other. It’s up to him to decide what’s best for his best development. We’ll talk about that.”

Related Content

• Click here to listen to Holland react to getting drafted

Fifth Round

Pick No. 148: Niklas Tikkinen, defenseman
Bio/Stats: Click here

Tikkinen, a native of Espoo, Finland, notched eight goals and 15 assists in 39 games with Espoo’s U20 team last season. He also played seven games for Espoo’s U18 team and notched three goals and nine assists. He entered the draft ranked 17th among European skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings.

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “He’s a really skilled defenseman. He was a forward two years ago, and you can see it in his game when he plays, he can go up the ice with the puck and sometimes he jumps in and then remembers, 'Oh, I’m a defenseman now. I’ve got to stay back.'... With his ability with the puck and his vision, we look at him as a power-play guy. He’s a little bit of a wild card. Being a forward and going back and playing defense, you’ve got to learn some things that you need to work on defensively, but with his skill-set and hockey sense, he was too good to pass up for us. We’re trying to get better skill and this guy has really good puck skills.”

Sixth Round

Pick No. 178: Samuel Fejes, forward
Bio/Stats: Click here
Twitter handle: @HunterFejes

Fejes, who was born and raised in Alaska, notched 14 goals and 14 assists in 49 games with the well-respected Shattuck St. Mary’s prep program in Minnesota last season, where he was better known by his middle name – Hunter.

His next stop will be Colorado College.

“I think of myself as a power forward who’s a good skater, really physical and who can shoot the puck,” Fejes said.

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “He played on a good team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s with a few other guys that got drafted…Myself and another scout went and saw him in a tournament in Calgary and he really stepped up and played. He’s a good forward down low, he protects the puck, he plays the game the way the game has become; down low and using your size. I wouldn’t consider him as a power forward, but he does puck protect very well… He’s going to a good school and he’s going to develop there. We like his potential.”

Related Content

Click here to listen to Fejes react to being drafted

Seventh Round
Pick No. 184: Marek Langhamer, goalie
Bio/Stats: Click here

Langhamer (6-foot-1, 181 pounds) is a native of Pisek, Czech Republic. Last season, he posted a 3.29 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 33 games for Pardubice, a Czech junior team. He is expected to play in the Canadian Hockey League next season, possibly for a team in British Columbia.

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “Being a former goaltender, I know goaltenders take longer to develop. He’s a European goalie, but he’s coming over to play in the CHL next year… He’s a big, athletic goalie. I think he needs a good goalie coach and we have one in Sean Burke, and hopefully wherever he goes in the Canadian Hockey League they’ll have a good goalie coach there as well.”

Seventh Round
Pick No. 208: Justin Hache, defenseman
Bio/Stats: Click here

Hache notched two goals and 16 assists playing junior hockey for Shawinigan last season. He scored one goal in 11 postseason games for the Cataractes, who won the Memorial Cup. In 60 games, he was plus-27.

“It’s just a great feeling (to be drafted),” Hache said. “I was just hoping any team would pick me and I’m really happy that that happened… (The draft) was fun and pretty stressful because you have no control of what’s going on and you’re just waiting. I’m just happy that it’s all over.”

Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Knickle: “Hache is a defenseman that played with (Coyotes prospect) Brandon Gormley in Shawinigan. He got traded to Cape Breton this year, so he’ll be playing in Cape Breton… He’s more of a stay-at-home, smart defenseman, and he’s a puck-moving guy… He’s a good player. We like him. He’s a hockey-sense guy. That’s a key thing for me for defensemen.”

Related Content

• Click here to watch Hache react to being drafted
• Click here to see a photo gallery of Hache at the draft

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