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Arizona Coyotes: Rookie camp 2017/18

Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes kicked off their version of the 2017/18-rookie camp at Gila River Arena yesterday. 28 total players were invited to the camp including 18 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies.

Breaking down the rookie camp roster

Some notable players at this camp were:

Dylan Strome (C)

Arizona Coyotes

Strome needs to show he belongs in the NHL after playing just seven games in a Coyotes uniform last season. He was sent back to the Erie Otters of the OHL for more seasoning. At this rookie camp, everyone in attendance saw a whole new Strome. His skating has improved noticeably, especially his first stride.

He seems quicker, and yet he bulked his body up from a year ago to compete with the big boys in the league.

He showed some good stick handling skills in the drills today at Gila River Arena, and that’s nothing but good news for the Arizona Coyotes. They have been more than patient with his development and tried not to rush him into the NHL style of play. He’ll be a good third-line center who can distribute the puck and go to the net when needed.

He may be lining up with Tobias Rieder and Christian Fischer.

This is his season, he CAN’T screw this up or he will find himself down in the AHL playing for the Tucson Roadrunners. It looks like his improvement is significant enough to allow him to be a permanent fixture at center ice for the Desert Dogs for years to come.

Clayton Keller (W)

Arizona Coyotes

Keller showed bursts of speed in the drills today, and stick handling ability which will make him an excellent playmaker and dangerous on open ice. Keller may be joined on the second line with Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini. That line will display the youth of the Coyotes, as Keller is just 19-years-old, Dvorak and Perlini are both 21-years-old.

It could be dubbed as the “kid” line, but there is some skill on that line for sure.

Christian Fischer (RW)

Fischer just has a nose for the net. A pure scorer who also use his large frame (6’2″, 214lbs) to move players in his way, he may be able to fill the role vacated by Shane Doan’s retirement and do some net crashing or opposing goalie screening. More importantly, he looks to be a go-to scorer the team will need to get to the post season for the first time in five seasons.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph

The Arizona Coyotes 23rd overall selection in the draft this year looked smooth and quick. He really needs to add some weight to his frame. Joseph is listed at 6’2″, 163lbs and that won’t be adequate to compete with 200lb NHL players. He may be able to make the AHL roster in a year or two. For now, he is likely headed back to Charlottetown (QMJHL) to bulk up and work on his skills.

His 39 points in 62 games show he has potential.

Kyle Wood (D)

Arizona Coyotes

Wood may get a look this coming season, as he had an excellent year in Tucson last season with 14 goals, 29 assists in 68 games. When you notice (and it’s not difficult to do so) his size on the ice it becomes clear that this kid has the NHL style body, which can only help his advancement possibilities. At 6’7″, 235 lbs he is hard to miss by opposing players. He has a wicked wrist shot and will be a player on the point who can get the puck to the net for rebounds or deflections.

Nick Merkley (RW)

Another rising star in the Coyotes’ system is Nick Merkley. He injured his ACL and only played 43 games during the 2015/16 season, yet managed 48 points. His playmaking abilities and smaller stature (5’11’, 192lbs) are reminiscent of another player named Ray Whitney. In fact Merkley is a right-handed shot, and Arizona need another right wing, so we shall see if he can make the final roster cut.

In his season last year Merkley collected a point per game with 23 goals, 40 assists in 63 games. That may earn him a spot on the AHL Tucson Roadrunners roster if he doesn’t crack the Yotes’ final roster selections.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

The team now heads to San Jose where the Coyotes will participate in a four-team, round robin rookie tournament in San Jose vs. the Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, and Colorado Avalanche. Previously, at the close of the camp, they played two games vs. the Los Angeles Kings rookies. This will give the young players more experience against other potential NHL players, and get them involved in different situations to tackle.

Coyotes’ Dave Vest caught up with a few of the players mentioned above to get their view on the camp.

These young players are here with one goal in mind — to make the final roster of the Arizona Coyotes. We won’t find out the answer to that until the regular training camp opens on September 15th, 2017.

What do you think of the young rookies at the Arizona Coyotes’ rookie camp? Let us know in the comments sections below.

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William Grigsby

I have been a hockey fan since I can remember. I grew up in Chicago, so I followed the Blackhawks.  When I moved to Phoenix, AZ  I became a Coyotes' fan. There's no other sport like NHL hockey!

  • Bradley Bodenstab

    Seeing Strome’s improved skating should be a welcome relief to most fans wondering if he’d be a bust. Skating isn’t a make-or-break ability, but in the new NHL and with the other kids starting to fill the roster, it’s definitely an important one. If even half of our offensive prospects pan out the way they’re expected to, and Chych and PO turn out to be consistently solid defensemen, that rebuild phase GMDM started years ago may turn into a winner.

    Part of the issue was that surrounding young players with a losing attitude and incompatible coaching styles was a surefire way to diminish growth and train away talent. With Tocchet being more open to fast and aggressive skating and offense rather than dump-and-chase and turtle tactics, it should play exactly to our star prospects’ talent pool.

Arizona Coyotes: Rookie camp 2017/18

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