The Arizona Coyotes have announced that they will not sign 2014 1st round draft pick (23rd overall) Conner Bleackley, who was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the trade for Mikkel Boedker. Bleackley will be eligible to re-enter the draft.
After scoring 68 points in 71 games as a young captain with the Red Deer Rebels prior to the 2014 draft, he’s gone two straight years under a point per game. He proved to be a valuable player for Red Deer, playing a physical game and being a leader, but his offensive game hasn’t leaped off the page.
Since they didn’t sign him by the Wednesday deadline, the team will get a compensatory 2nd round draft pick.
“We’re going to take the compensation pick,” new general manager John Chayka told NHL.com. “There’s a lot of value in that pick. That’s not to diminish anything Conner has done or the type of player he is. He had a good Memorial Cup. He’s a good player, but at this point [the draft pick] is a more valuable asset for us.”
Injury cut Bleackley’s season short, but he was able to unexpectedly return to help his team during the Memorial Cup.
“It’s not easy to do, especially at a Memorial Cup level to come back off an injury like he had and perform the way he did,” Chayka said. “It’s a pretty special thing, but we’re in the business of maximizing assets, so that’s our decision.”
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.