2012 NHL Draft: Phoenix Coyotes Draft Preview

April 23, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) celebrates scoring a goal with defenseman Keith Yandle (3) against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period in game six of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Coyotes currently own the 27th overall draft selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which begins this Friday, June 22 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 4 p.m. P.D.T.

The Coyotes hold nine picks (tied for the fourth-most) in the seven-round draft, including two in the third round. At last year's draft in St. Paul, MN, Phoenix selected defenseman Connor Murphy with the 20th overall pick in the first round.

Phoenix owns the 27th overall selection for only the third time in franchise history (Mark Visentin - 2010; Boris Mironov - 1992). It marks the latest the organization has drafted a player since the 2003 Entry Draft, when the Coyotes took forward Tyler Redenbach with the 77th overall pick.

Draft History

Many former Phoenix Coyotes draft picks made headlines in the 2011-2012 season, demonstrating the teams front office savvy and ability to find young talent.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson became a full-time fixture along the Coyotes blue line, and had what many considered an all-star caliber season. This season OEL scored 13 goals, tallied 19 assist and registered only 32 penalty minutes. OEL was drafted sixth overall by the Coyotes in 2009.

Mikkel Boedker, the eighth overall pick by the Coyotes in the 2008 draft, had a quality regular season, tallying 24 points. However, His real coming out party was against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarterfinals. Boedker showed off his blazing speed as he scored back-to-back game-winners in Games 3 and 4.

Last but not least, is Kyle Turris. No one can forget the Turris drama that plagued the beginning of the Coyotes 2011-2012 campaign.

While the Coyotes got swept by the Red Wings in the first round in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Coyotes former third pick overall in the 2007 entry draft was the only consistent performer in the series for the 'Yotes. However, this added to Turris' already swollen ego.

Turris, still a prospect in the eyes of GM Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett, demanded a massive contract extension that the Coyotes were not willing to give him. This led to an offseason holdout, and eventually led to the team shipping the disgruntled center to Ottawa for a second-round pick and defenseman David Rundblad.

Turris played on the Senators second line and ended up having a pretty productive season, putting up 12 goals and 17 assist.

Team Needs, Strengths and Weaknesses

It's no secret. The Coyotes need help upfront. The average age of the Coyotes top three scorers, Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan, is just over 35-years-old.

In addition to this, both Whitney and Doan are unrestricted free agents this offseason.

Boedker, Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski all have promising futures, but regardless, the Coyotes need to draft a talented offensive player with their first pick.

The Coyotes have demonstrated in playoffs this year that they have a ton of young defensemen who can play at the NHL level. Keith Yandle, at only 25-years-old, made his second all-star game this season, and Ekman-Larsson is well on his way to being one as well.

Michael Stone and Chris Summers, 22 and 25 respectively, also got some playing time for the Coyotes this season. And you cannot forget about Rundblad, who was acquired in the Turris trade.

While older defensemen like Derek Morris, Michal Rozsival and Adrian Aucoin may be on their last legs, the Coyotes should not be concerned about drafting a young defenseman. The only exception would be if a talented defenseman fell to them at 27 that they just could not pass up.

With Mike Smith having a breakout year, there is no desperation to draft a goaltender either. What could be a smart late to mid-round pick is a kid with potential who the team could groom in Portland to eventually be a backup to Smith, and eventually replace him.

Curtis McElhinney, the Coyotes third goalie on the depth chart, was sent to Columbus in the Antoine Vermette trade.

Possible Targets

Tanner Pearson, LW, Barrie (OHL)

• Pearson ranked third in the Ontario Hockey League, and led Barrie, with 91 points (37-54--91) in 60 games during the 2011-12 season.

• He recorded 42 points (15- 27--42) in 2010-11, which ranked sixth on the Colts.

• Pearson represented Team Canada for the first time at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, where he recorded six points (one goal, five assists) in six games to help Canada capture the bronze medal. He became the first junior player since Danny Syvret in 2005 to skate for Team Canada after being passed over in the NHL Draft.

• Pearson went undrafted in 2010 and 2011, and was selected in the 14th round (266th overall) of the 2008 OHL Draft.

• A motivating factor for Pearson was seeing teammate and friend Mark Scheifele drafted seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL Draft - "We work out together, him getting drafted seventh overall, he shows the poise and pride you need to play at that level."

• He spent time working as a stick boy for the Kitchener Rangers before he started his OHL career - "I could say I learned the OHL before I was even in the OHL, learning from (former Rangers) Steve Mason, Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling."

• Pearson credits his father, Tim, who works for Bauer Hockey, with helping to build his game - "My dad works in the hockey business and has been around the NHL. He knows what it takes to get there and he put that in my head."

Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa

• Laughton ranked fifth on Oshawa with 53 points (21-32--53), and third on the team with 101 penalty minutes, during the 2011-12 season. He added five points (2-3--5) in six postseason contests.

• Laughton represented Canada at the 2011 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and scored the game-winning goal in the gold-medal game. He also won gold with Team Ontario at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he finished the tournament with five points (two goals, three assists) in six games.

• A Toronto Marlboros minor hockey product, he won the GTHL championship and the Ontario Bantam championship in 2008-09 alongside fellow NHL Draft prospects Scott Kosmachuk and Matia Marcantuoni; Laughton was named MVP and Top Forward.

• He had 95 points (45-50--95) in 76 games for the Marlboros during the 2009-10 season. Laughton also scored five points (3-2--5) in seven games during the 2010 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament as Toronto lost in the championship game.

• Laughton has competed on Team Ontario's lacrosse squad (2006 and 2008). His father, Craig, also played lacrosse for Team Canada.

Martin Frk, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

• Frk played only 34 games during an injury-plagued 2011-12 season, recording 29 points (16-13--29). He added 11 points (5-6--11) in 17 playoff contests to help the Mooseheads reach the Western Conference Finals.

• In 2010-11, Frk led Halifax rookies and finished fourth overall among QMJHL freshmen with 50 points (22-28--50) in 62 games.

• He was the youngest player to represent the Czech Republic at the 2011 World Junior Championship, leading the team with three goals in six games. Frk also competed at the 2010 and 2011 Under-18 World Championship, where he tied for the team lead in scoring in 2010 (2-5--7) and 2011 (1-4--5).

• Prior to making the jump to the QMJHL, Frk competed for HC Karlovy of the Czech Under-20 League.

• He wears #91 because of childhood idol Sergei Federov.

Prospect facts by NHL.com

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