Phoenix Coyotes Preseason Countdown: 22 Days

Mike Ridewood

Twenty-two days remain until we get to see some NHL action, and to celebrate we are focusing on the second most recent man to wear the number.

Here we are, 22 days left. With a number like 22 who else could we talk about but Lee Stempniak. Traded to the Calgary Flames for Daymond Langkow (who interestingly enough also wore 22), Stemp proved his worth for the Phoenix Coyotes quickly, racking up 56 points during his 100 games with the team. However, Stemp's rise to NHL excellence started years before with the St. Louis Blues.

Stempniak was drafted fifth overall by the Blues in 2003. After being drafted, he chose to stay at Dartmouth for school and hockey. The 2005-2006 season was the American's first year in the pros, though he split between the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL and the big show. He soon found himself with a permanent spot on the Blues for the 2006-2007 season.

That first full season had Stempniak on one of the youngest lines in the NHL, along side Jay McClement and David Backes. Though young, they found ways to score and quickly became fan favorites, combining for 45 goals and 66 assists that season. Not All-Star numbers, but not too shabby for a, practically, rookie line.

This season, the Coyotes could potentially see something similar. Last season, after the trade deadline, several AHLers were called up to fill starting roles. At prospect camp, rumors swirled about Chris Brown, Max Domi and others possibly making the grade by October 3. Where the Desert Dogs have lacked most over the years is scoring among forwards; nothing proving that more than The Great Goal Drought of 2013. These young players could be the key to avoiding a similar situation in the 82-game season to come.

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