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Memorial Cup: Conner Bleackley shines in first game in over two months

Despite the fact that he hadn't played a game in two months, Conner Bleackley didn't miss a beat.

Derek Leung/Getty Images

The Conner Bleackley story is one that is filled with highs, and filled with lows.

Originally drafted 23rd overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Bleackley now finds him in the Arizona Coyotes organization without an entry level deal.

"My agent has a close relationship with [Arizona general manager John Chayka] and they still have time to sign me," Bleackley told the Red Deer website (via

"I'm not expecting anything. My job, whether I get signed or go back into the draft or whatever happens, hasn't changed and won't change. I'll work hard every day and first and foremost get back from this injury and then train in the summer."

This past season was one that found Bleackley to be seemingly sitting in the press boxes more than on skating on the ice. He suffered a broken kneecap in January that held him out of 15 games and after returning in March, he only got eight games in before he got his wrist stepped on.

I was told that the injury was so severe that there were concerns on whether or not he would be the same player.

The injury held him out of the WHL playoffs, however he surprisingly was in the Red Deer Rebel lineup for the team's first game of the Memorial Cup against the London Knights.

He kept his game simple in his first game back taking straight lines to Knights players laying the body constantly, and not shying away from trying some fancy things in the offensive zone.

This season, Bleackley was involved in a trade that saw the Colorado Avalanche send his rights alongside Alex Tanguay and prospect Kyle Wood to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Mikkel Boedker.

The Coyotes are now poised with the decision to either sign Bleakley to an Entry Level Deal, or they can allow for him to re-enter the draft. Due to Bleackley being a former-first round pick, the Coyotes would be able to receive a compensatory second round choice in this year's NHL entry draft.

Will teams take a chance on him? I certainly would and I wouldn't be surprised to see him go anywhere from the second to the fourth round.

A solid showing at this year's Memorial Cup will only help his chances at either getting an ELC from the Coyotes, or a better spot in the draft.

I am live covering the 2016 Memorial Cup. My game one recap can be read here, and you can follow me on twitter here.