In a conversation with Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan at the beginning of the Olympic Break, Don Maloney expected Phoenix Coyotes defensive prospect Brandon Gormley to make a future appearance on the parent club's roster after the Break. Well the future appears to be now.
Earlier today the Coyotes announced that Gormley had in fact been recalled from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League to the Coyotes, a move that coincides with the resumption of organized practices for NHL teams (sans Olympians, obviously). While Gormley has seen training camp and preseason action with the parent club, this will likely be his rookie debut, for a few different reasons.
As we noted before the season started, the Phoenix Coyotes have a glut of defensemen on the cusp of earning regular NHL playing time. Connor Murphy was seen as still a few years away, yet made a significant contribution to the team in his months up in the big leagues. The pattern started toward the end of the 2011-12 season when Michael Stone was called up late in the year and had success.
Combined with Rostislav Klesla's demotion and David Rundblad's seemingly perpetual exile to the press box, the opportunity has come for Brandon Gormley to get his first action. If he does play, he will be continuing a recent trend for the Coyotes to bring up young defensemen to essentially try out for future roster spots.
Brandon Gormley's Career So Far
As the Phoenix Coyotes' first round draft pick in 2010, Gormley was thought of as a highly talented defensive prospect with offensive upside, a feature that has become commonplace in the Phoenix system. Last year marked his first season out of major-junior. He scored five goals and registered 24 assists in 68 games with the Portland Pirates. He would add an extra goal and two assists during three playoff games that year.
This season, Gormley has already surpassed his career numbers. In forty-eight contests, Gormley has six goals and 26 assists, good enough to tie for third on the team in overall points. While his -18 rating is at first an eyesore to look at, the Pirates are struggling significantly more than they were last year, and a byproduct of playing tougher minutes also tends to be a higher minus rating, so it's hard to definitively say how poorly he is playing on his back end.
What to Expect From Brandon Gormley
General Manager Don Maloney has intentionally been vague about how long Gormley might stay up or how much ice-time he will receive. One thing is certain however: Gormley is not here to fill a gap or warm the press box. He is here to play. Expect Brandon Gormley to get an initial stretch of two to three games to see how well his skills and experience translate to the NHL, and then expect him to rotate in and out of the lineup with David Schlemko, Michael Stone, and David Rundblad.