The Arizona Coyotes open up their preseason tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. Just 3 days after the veterans training camp began. The team’s veterans will look to get back to form, while the Coyotes rookies will try to earn roster spots.
This preseason will be particularly important for the team’s rookies as they look to impress and earn themselves a roster spot.
It was no secret, last year, that the Arizona Coyotes struggled to score goals. They finished the year ranked 20th in goals per game. To make matters worse, Radim Vrbata was lost to division rival Vancouver Canucks in free agency this past offseason.
Vrbata was one of the team’s better goal scorers as he ranked 3rd on the team with 20 goals. For a team that struggled to score, that’s a big hole to fill. In addition to acquiring Sam Gagner via trade, the Arizona Coyotes are hoping some of their rookies can help fill that void.
There are two rookies that are nearing their NHL careers that are highly valued by the Coyotes, Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson. Domi put up impressive offensive numbers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last year, 34 goals and 93 points in 61 games.
Head Coach Dave Tippett hasn’t guaranteed a spot for Domi just yet though. In an interview with AZ Central, Tippett said, “Those players are talented in juniors. They can get away with things that they can’t get away with here. There has to be a base of knowledge of structure and how to play in certain situations before you can use that skill here. That will be the test for him.”
As for Henrik Samuelsson, there is no question that he posses the offensive ability that the Coyotes seek. In his 2013-2014 regular season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL), Samuelsson scored 35 goals and 95 points in 65 games to help his team win the Memorial Cup. The question for Samuelsson making the team is his skating ability. This has been a big part of his game that the Arizona Coyotes want him to improve. Samuelsson has been working on his skating ability all summer and even joined the Coyotes veterans in optional skates at the Ice Den before training camp began. Samuelsson told AZ Central, “Getting here and skating with the pro guys I think really helped me. Just keeping up with them will help me out.”
Both players will look to impress the coaching staff and front office tonight against NHL talent as the Coyotes take on the Kings in a pair of split squad games.
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