Coyotes Prospects Gaining Valuable Playoff Experience
GLENDALE -- While the Coyotes are in the thick of yet another race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, some of the organization’s top prospects are already in the postseason and looking to help their teams make a deep run for a championship.
Forward Henrik Samuelsson, the team’s first-round selection (27th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has carried his success from the regular season over into the postseason.
Samuelsson, who was raised in Scottsdale, finished third in regular-season scoring for the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings with 33 goals and 47 assists for 80 points in 69 games. Samuelsson’s efforts helped propel Edmonton to finish the regular season with an Eastern Conference best 108 points.
Edmonton was matched against Kootenay in the first round of the WHL playoffs and won the series in five games. On Sunday night, carrying a 1-0 series lead against Medicine Hat, Samuelsson once again chipped in offensively, scoring the game-winning goal on the power play in the first period to help extend his team’s lead in the series to 2-0.
In total, Samuelsson has two goals and four assists in his team’s seven playoff games this spring as Edmonton’s second-round series shifts to Medicine Hat for Games 3 and 4.
Meanwhile, across Canada in the Ontario Hockey League, forward Lucas Lessio also is in the midst of a second-round playoff series with his Oshawa Generals teammates.
Lessio, a second-round selection (56th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, was out for three months because of injury, but that didn’t slow his offensive production when he returned in late January. Lessio picked up where he left off and maintained the almost point-per-game scoring pace he had set before the injury and finished the season with 19 goals and 15 assists for 34 points in 35 games, along with a plus-minus rating of plus-11.
Oshawa finished third in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, which paired them vs. Niagara in the first round. The Generals eliminated Niagara in five games, but find themselves down against Barrie, 3-0, in the second round.
In total, Lessio has a goal and two assists in eight of Oshawa’s postseason games this spring.
Down the 401 Freeway in Kitchener, one of the newest Coyotes prospects is also competing in the OHL playoffs.
Tobias Rieder was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on March 29; right before he helped his Kitchener Rangers teammates clinch a series win in five games over Guelph with a four-point game.
Rieder, a native of Landshut, Germany, posted 27 goals and 29 assists for 56 points in 52 regular-season games for Kitchener this season. His strong regular season play has carried over into the postseason, where he has notched a goal and six assists in seven games.
Over in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, another one of the Coyotes’ newest prospects is also enjoying postseason success.
Mathieu Brisebois was signed by the Coyotes on March 6 and finished the season fourth on his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team in scoring with 19 goals and 54 assists for 73 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-15 in 64 regular-season games. His efforts during the regular season made him a finalist for the QMJHL’s Emile Bouchard Award, given annually to the league’s top defenseman.
The Huskies finished second in the West Division with 84 points and then went on to defeat Drummondville in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs in five games.
Rouyn-Noranda advanced to play Quebec in a second-round series, which is currently tied 1-1. In the Huskies’ seven postseason games, Brisebois, a native of Mont St-Hilaire, Que., has two goals and five assists.