With the Coyotes playing the Los Angeles Kings this evening, we are in the home stretch of training camp and the NHL preseason. You can catch the game on NHL Network tonight, so you can see what your ‘hopeful’ Coyotes will look like. This game will most likely be without Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Seeing the injury happen live, we are very lucky that he isn’t having season ending surgery from being tangled along the boards with Mikkel Boedker.
The kids are doing just fine. Clayton Keller has an ice vision that you don’t see in many players that young. It’s like he can see the play a few steps a head and will go full speed to make sure the play happens. He’s hard to hit because he’s so fast, but even if you do catch and hit him, you can’t take the puck away from him.
Christian Fischer bulked up over the summer and it has made him what many people would call the traditional power-forward, only he has the ability to snipe and score almost at will. He could see himself full time with the Coyotes this season, or be the first man up if a right wing gets injured.
Brendan Perlini continues to prove us all wrong. He is having an amazing camp and it doesn’t matter which center he is playing with, he is dangerous when he has the puck. If he can get hot like he did towards the end of the season the Coyotes will have three wings who could give goalies nightmares on any given night.
Derek Stepan has surprised me in a very good way. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the Domi’s and Keller’s, but then I remembered he played a lot of time with Mats Zuccarello on the Rangers. Stepan has a knack of finding the streaking wingers and the passes connecting. Once lines are set, I imagine the chemistry will be greater and the Coyotes could have a true 1C and top line for the first time in many many seasons.
Niklas Hjalmarsson may be a machine. Watching him play on Saturday was odd. I know the style of game he played in Chicago, it was very much the style of Zbynek Michalek when he was with the Coyotes. A puck eating defender by trade, he is also an amazing puck moving defender who seems to already have a connection with Ekman-Larsson.
Watching them it feels like they have been playing together forever. This pairing is so interesting and watching it develop over the season will be something to look forward to.
Brad Richardson hasn’t lost a step from his broken leg last season. Watching him, you cannot tell he had the traumatic injury last November. He has been playing with Jordan Martinook and Tobias Rieder, the Coyotes best shutdown pair on the penalty kill last season. For the first time, the Coyotes could have an actual shutdown depth line.
Mario Kempe is making a name for himself and making it hard for the Coyotes to send him down. Paul has an article coming out this morning about him. He could make the team, something has wanted to do his whole career. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Dylan Strome has been nearly invisible in every game I have seen or listened to when he played. Against the Sharks he was barely noticeable and had little special teams time when Keller and Dvorak were leading the way on the power play and penalty kill respectively. His skating has gotten better, but something still doesn’t feel right with his game. I suspect he may start in the AHL, like Brendan Perlini last season, and quickly come up.
If he can make Roadrunners games nightmares for the other team, he should be able to translate it to the NHL.
Dakota Mermis has quietly been making a name for himself defensively. He was an ATO then signing two seasons ago where he has been playing with the AHL teams. Personally, I have always liked his defensive play, and I think Tocchet is a fan as well. With Chychrun out and Kevin Connauton looking very rough this preseason, we may see Mermis in a Coyotes jersey come opening night.
It’s Down to 29 Players
Here is the Coyotes' current training camp roster (29 players). AZ waived Emerson Etem today. If he clears he'll remain w/the team for now. pic.twitter.com/ZfrFJFY35V— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) September 27, 2017
With Jakob Chychrun out for the foreseeable future, who do you have making the 23-man roster before it is due?