'Yotes end draft with local flavour

Scottsdale native Zac Larraza was selected by the team he idolized this weekend, in the 7th round, 196th overall.
Photo: phoenixcoyotes.com

Six forwards and two defensemen were added to the pack on draft weekend, beginning with blueliner Connor Murphy, picked 20th overall. The 6 foot 3 native of Dublin, Ohio will play for Miami University in fall 2011 after having played only 14 games this year for the American Under-18 team due to injury, recording six points. Previous to that, he went 7-11-18 when he laced up for 35 games with the Columbus Jr. Blue Jackets. His father Gord is an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, having played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers during his career.

Center Alexander Ruuttu, whose father Christian works as a scout for the Coyotes, was selected with the 51st overall pick after much speculation at the Phoenix table that he would no longer be available at that point. The elder Ruuttu, head of Coyotes’ European scouting, was said to be very much removed from the process. With 18-13-31 and 14 penalty minutes (PIM) in 41 games with Jokerit Jr., Alexander Ruutuu got stronger as his season progressed and will be one of the Coyotes’ many projects in the coming years.

Add to the list Lucas Lessio of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, who ranked second in his team’s rookie scoring behind new Canucks’ 1st rounder Nicklas Jensen with 27 goals and 54 points in 66 games. Lessio was a member of Team Canada at the 2010 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament and won a silver medal with Team Ontario at the 2010 Under-17 World Challenge.

The second blueliner drafted by the ‘Yotes, Harrison Ruopp of the Prince Albert Raiders, was the compensation Phoenix received for Philadelphia having signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov earlier in the week. Selected 84th, Ruopp adds a mean physical edge to his game. He had nine assists in 54 games with 98 penalty minutes this season. Meanwhile, two other Western Hockey Leaguers, Kale Kessy and Darian Dziurzynski, were selected 111th and 141st overall respectively by the Coyotes. Kessy recorded 10 goals, 14 assists and 129 PIM in 65 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers in 2010-11, whereas the overage Dziurzynski had 35 goals and 22 assists with 125 PIM in 72 games with the Saskatoon Blades.

In the sixth round, Phoenix turned to Andrew Fritsch of the OHL Champion Owen Sound Attack, who in 60 games collected 28 goals and 35 assists. The right winger from Brampton also recorded a goal and an assist in the Memorial Cup.

Finally, the Coyotes made one very happy camper in Zac Larraza, a 6’2’’ left winger from Scottsdale whose being chosen 196th overall by his favourite NHL team made the wait that much sweeter. The future member of the University of Denver program scored eight goals and five assists in 49 games for the U.S. National Under-18 Team, winning gold with the Americans at the Under-18 World Championships, contributing a short-handed marker and four assists in six games. He played his minor hockey in Arizona and was a member of the Jr. Coyotes program.

Phoenix was due to make another selection in the seventh round, but instead traded it to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the rights to Marc-Antoine Pouliot. The former first-round centre participated in 3 games with the Bolts and 69 games with the Norfolk Admirals, leading them with 25 goals (including a team-leading 12 on the man advantage) and 72 points with a +13.

Netminders Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue highlighted last year’s NHL Entry Draft acquisitions by the ‘Yotes, whereas no goalie was picked this time around. However, Memorial Cup champion Jacob DeSerres of the Saint John Sea Dogs was extended an invite by the club. Information on this year’s Prospects Development Camp that he and the other new members of the Coyotes will be attending are to be made known this week.