The Arizona Coyotes made a small splash earlier this week by trading underwhelming defensive prospect Brandon Gormley to Colorado in exchange for Stefan Elliott. This prompted many Coyotes fans to ask, "Who?"
FFH: What will Stefan Elliott bring to the Coyotes' defensive corps?
Stefan Elliott is a right-handed defenseman with good size who can really shoot the puck from the point. A second-round draft pick in 2009 and a near point-per-game scorer in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades, Avalanche fans had high expectations throughout his development.
Unfortunately, he fell into former coach Joe Sacco's doghouse during his first half-year with Colorado in 2011-12 and never fully re-emerged, despite posting positive relative corsi on some really challenged defenses. These possession numbers are likely attributed more to his knack for getting shots off rather than any defensive ability, but in today's game, it can't be ignored.
FFH: What are the weaknesses in Elliot's game and what is keeping him in the AHL?
MHH: Elliott has been criticized by fans and the media for being timid on the ice. Non-committal on defense and indecisive with the puck. You have to wonder how much of that is the result of his handling because it certainly doesn't show in the AHL where he's a double-digit goal scorer and an All-Star for the Lake Erie Monsters.
Perhaps he truly is that timid player, but it's hard to know until we see a long enough stretch in the NHL. Elliott was never going to get that opportunity in Colorado behind other right-handed defensemen like Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. A new team and a new opportunity should serve him well.
FFH: It looks like most of his goals with the Monsters was on the power play, in his few games with the Avalanche was he given power play time? And if so did his success in the AHL translate to success in the NHL?
MHH: During his stretches with Colorado, Elliott was definitely given ample time on the power play. As previously mentioned, he has a special wrist-shot, and it's carried him through every level so far.
For whatever reason, it hasn't translated into points, but he has certainly put shots on net. I imagine this is what Arizona is looking at when they pulled the trigger on this trade, and one would think he gets a chance to occupy the right point in camp.
Thanks again to Mile High Hockey for the insight. It will soon become clear what Don Maloney and the Coyotes' plans for Stefan Elliott are as training camp draws closer.