As the season...tumbles on, many Wild fans are already looking towards the future, which is full of promise for the first time since...ever. Two of the big names in the prospect pool right now are Charlie Coyle and Zack Phillips, both acquired in the Devin Setoguchi - Brent Burns deal.
My fellow New-Brunswicker Jamie Tozer, who is in charge of the great Saint John Sea Dogs blog, Station Nation, was kind enough to give us a little update on Coyle and Phillips, two Sea Dogs stars. Coyle looks to be handling the switch from college hockey to Major Junior hockey quite well and Phillips is still dominating.
Be sure visit his blog, Station Nation, and follow him on Twitter, @station_nation, for the best Saint John Sea Dogs coverage and news on Coyle and Phillips.
Read Jamie's write-up after the jump.Charlie Coyle has made quite an impression since joining the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Coyle, 19, scored in his first game as a Sea Dog. He scored in his second game. He added two more in his third game. In his most recent contest, he had a goal and two assists. Overall, the Minnesota Wild prospect has recorded an impressive eight goals and six assists in his first 10 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games.
His point total since joining the Sea Dogs isn't all that surprising, though. There are not a lot power forwards like Coyle in the QMJHL. He's very strong with and without the puck. He'll often beat out opposing defensemen on an odd man rush to create a scoring opportunity. He plays on both the power play and the penalty kill. The skill package that Coyle possesses or not seen in east coast junior rinks that much.
The Weymouth, Massachusetts native played his first game with Saint John back on January 12 at Harbour Station, scoring the Sea Dogs' lone goal in a 4-1 loss to the rival Shawinigan Cataractes. Saint John has won nine straight since that defeat with Coyle playing a key role in most of them.
The Sea Dogs are beginning to roll now with their lineup nearly at 100%. In the first half, Saint John was hit hard with injuries. When the World Junior Hockey Championships rolled around, they lost even more players. With the world juniors over, the team almost completely healthy, and the addition of Coyle, Saint John is beginning to look like the dominant team that they were a year ago.
On most teams in the Canadian Hockey League, a player like Coyle would stick out quite a bit. But if you are a forward with the Sea Dogs, you've got a lot of competition if you want to be named first star. Saint John has an embarrassment of riches up front, led by captain and the Panthers' third overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau, Red Wings second rounder Tomas Jurco, the league's second leading goal scorer in Danick Gauthier, Capitals prospect Stanislav Galiev, and another first round pick of the Wild in Zack Phillips. Saint John is so stacked up front that two NHL drafted forwards played on their third line this past weekend.
The line combinations are, obviously, quite often debated amongst Sea Dogs fans. Since arriving in Saint John, Coyle mostly played on a line with Phillips at centre and Huberdeau on the opposite wing. That changed this past weekend with Coyle and Phillips joining newcomer Maxime Villemaire, giving Saint John's lines a bit more balance.
Coyle and Phillips seem to have developed some nice chemistry. Although their timing has been a bit off on a few plays, this might be an interesting combo to watch if you're a Wild fan (which I'm assuming most of you are).
As for Phillips, he's having another strong season. He currently leads the team in points with 70 and assists with 43 in 48 games this year. He's played much off the season without Huberdeau, brushing off some of the criticism he took last year that his stats (95 points in 67 games) were only that high because of the play of his linemate.
Phillips, also 19, probably needs a bit more seasoning than Coyle before making the jump to the NHL. Although not that noticeable in the Q, his skating has often been critiqued by scouts. Also, I find he can make some questionable decisions with the puck on occasion. Instead of making a simple dump in or passing, he'll often try to make some kind of inside out move to try and get around a defenseman, creating a turnover. But, I doubt you'd see him try that move of he was in the NHL tomorrow.
The Wild have two good prospects in Coyle and Phillips. The Sea Dogs have two good players. Here's hoping they bring us all some championships.
HW thanks Jamie Tozer for his time in writing this prospect update. Again, visit his blog and follow him on Twitter. Great stuff. Also, we'd like to thank Marc Henwood, the provider of the photo. You can view all his Sea Dogs photos by liking Isurus Photography on Facebook.