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Ranking the Rookie Big Five

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With only five days left in our preseason countdown, we examine the potential of five rookies vying for an opening day roster spot.

Christian Petersen

Which Coyotes prospects have the best chance of making this year's squad? Here they are, in order of least likely to most likely, as voted on by the FFH staff.

5. Henrik Samuelsson

While there is undoubtedly a significant amount of buzz swirling around the 2012 draft pick, Samuelsson's flashy stick skills alone will likely not be enough to score him a coveted roster spot with the Coyotes this year. All eyes have been on his feet during rookie camp, as skating speed and agility have been a recurring issue inhibiting Samuelsson's progress in the past.

Perhaps if the young forward is able to keep up with the veterans when they arrive this week, Samuelsson could squeeze his way onto the opening night squad. The most likely scenario, however, will involve another year of development for the Pittsburgh native, this time in the AHL.

4. Tyler Gaudet

Gaudet is an interesting case, given that his marketable skills are not quite the same as offensive-minded young hopefuls like Samuelsson. He is not necessarily lacking in the offensive end, but rather takes pride in being a solid two-way player, and was even voted best defensive forward in an OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll.

Gaudet has a slew of similar veteran players to beat out if he wants to play in the NHL this year, but he should by no means be disregarded as a legitimate contender, especially if the penalty kill appears to struggle early.

3. Max Domi

The Coyotes enter the 2014-15 season in desperate need of a boost at the offensive end.  Along with Samuelsson, Domi's offensive skills are not in question. He made his presence known last year immediately after being drafted, surviving until the Coyotes' last round of cuts leading up to the 2013-14 season.

The rest of his game, however, has been under scrutiny for the past year and continues to be watched closely. Questions surround his defense as well as his ability to fully utilize his linemates, with some scouts citing selfish play last season in London.  If those aspects of his game haven't been adequately addressed in the eyes of the coaching staff, Domi may very well start the season playing somewhere other than Gila River Arena.

2. Tobias Rieder

Since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in March of 2013, Reider has spent time getting to know the Coyotes organization and establishing himself as a serious contender for a roster spot this year. Coach Tippett has described Reider as a "very intelligent player" who "does a lot of things right," comparing his playing style to that of Martin Erat.

Reider scored once in the third period of last night's rookie game against Los Angeles Kings, which would have been his second if not for a disallowed goal in the second period. If he continues his reliable play throughout the week, Yotes fans should not be surprised to see his name on the opening day roster.

1. Lucas Lessio

Given the fact that he is the sole member of this group to have previously made the Coyotes' opening day roster, Lessio seems to be a safe bet this time around. Although he only remained on the NHL squad for a few games last season, perhaps the Yotes' coaching staff now considers him fully prepared to make the permanent leap from the AHL to the big time.

Don't agree with us? Tell us who you think is most likely to make the Coyotes' opening night roster!