There are few, if any, NHL teams that have amassed as many talented young players and prospects as the Arizona Coyotes. This week, at BioSteel’s annual CAMP – an amalgamation of hockey’s elite junior, college and professional players for a week of on and off-ice training that concludes in a four-on-four tournament in Toronto – two of those elite young talents are on display.
Alongside NHL superstars such as Connor McDavid and Tyler Seguin, Arizona’s Max Domi and Dylan Strome can be found working out with BioSteel creator and former Toronto Maple Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol, or skating through stick handling drills with famed skills coach Jari Byrski’s SK8ON team.
For both Strome and Domi, the mid-August camp is an opportunity to put a busy summer of workouts to the test against some of the game’s best.
"Obviously being around all these guys is really cool and we have a lot of fun with each other," Domi said after his on-ice session on the third day of the four-day camp. "It’s an exciting week and the best way to get ready for the year."
"I’m learning a lot," Strome said of CAMP. "It’s pretty cool being around these NHL guys."
The pair know something special is being built in the Arizona and they don’t want to disappoint. The success is coming "sooner than people think," according to Domi.
"We’re looking forward to it (the success) and hopefully next year we can make the playoffs and just rise from there," he said.
Moving forward, Domi thinks the next generation of Coyotes is ready to step up and he knows they have the right people in place to guide them.
"All of the older guys are so beneficial to guys like Dylan and I and we learn so much from them on and off the ice," he said. "It’s tough to beat Shane Doan. That guy is one of, if not the most respected player in the NHL and he’s someone I look up to, someone I’ve always looked up to. To see him every single day and what he does is pretty special."
Last year, Domi felt the expectations rise after strong performances from him and some of his young teammates. Now he thinks Strome is ready to step in and make a difference.
For Strome, this offseason was about getting stronger. He feels he’s accomplished that in a summer with much less traveling than last year’s offseason. He visited Arizona a couple of times to train and get to know more of the staff, and attended Canada’s National Junior Evaluation Camp, but he has been able to focus more on making the fulltime jump to the NHL in the fall.
"I think the summer is going really well, I feel a lot stronger," the 19-year-old centre emphasized.
Strome's looking forward to training camp and credits Domi for helping him along the way. The two got to know each other at last summer’s CAMP and they’ve since grown close.
"There’s a lot of young prospects and a lot of highly touted ones," Strome said, adding that he thinks Domi will have an even bigger year this year than his 52-point rookie campaign last season. "He’s been really nice to me and kind of took me in with him and Duclair and they were really nice guys to me so it was nice to have someone that you were pretty close with going into camp last year."
Strome thinks the Coyotes have the right general manager to help them build and grow too. He credits new Coyotes boss John Chayka for being there for him when he was assistant general manager last season.
"He’s always available," Strome said of Chayka. "The staff are able to text you throughout the summer if you need anything and they don't mind giving you a shout. It’s guys like that that make the organization really good to be a part of."
Having played against many of Arizona’s top prospects in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Strome knows just how talented the likes of Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Ryan MacInnis, Christian Fischer, Brendan Perlini and Cam Dineen are.
"For myself and the Arizona guys, seeing them there’s a lot of skill and playing against them in the OHL it’s pretty cool," he said. "You get to see who you’ll hopefully be playing with in the future."
Soon, it may be a reality.
"Hopefully I can impress them at camp to stick around and make the team for the full year," Strome finished.