Two years ago, Conner Bleackley was taken 23rd overall by Colorado at the 2014 draft.
And it’s pretty much been downhill ever since.
After getting picked, his WHL Red Deer coach, Brent Sutter, said Bleackley wasn’t ready for NHL hockey. Bleackley then arrived at his first Avs camp out of shape, and was sent packing early. Colorado never signed him to an entry-level deal, shipping him to Arizona as part of the Mikkel Boedker trade at this year’s deadline.
Bleackley learned of the trade while recovering from a broken kneecap.
Two weeks after returning, he suffered a season-ending wrist tendon laceration.
Which brings us to the present.
Bleackley has until June 1 to reach a deal with the Coyotes. If he doesn’t, he’ll go back into the draft for a second time — something you don’t see very often.
“If that does happen, I think two teams would’ve made mistakes,” Bleackley said, per the Calgary Herald. “Whether I’m taken in the fourth round, fifth, seventh, not at all, or in the first round, my job doesn’t change — that’s to be a hockey player.”
Bleackley could take optimism from the case of Kyle Wood.
Wood, like Bleackley, was taken by Colorado at the ’14 draft. Wood, like Bleackley, never received a contract from the Avs and Wood, along with Bleackley, was shipped to the Coyotes in the aforementioned Boedker deal.
In March, Arizona signed Wood to a entry-level deal.
Bleackley is hoping for something similar. And hey, he did still manage to score 46 points in 55 games this year, which is good production given all his health issues.
He remains convinced he’s still a prospect worth investing in.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot left to give,” Bleackley said. “A lot of people may have counted me out already … but you won’t be able to convince me otherwise until it’s all said and done.”