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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- Mikkel Boedker wants to get back to the NHL for good. To that end, the 20-year-old forward from Denmark, who played 78 games for the Coyotes as a rookie but just 14 as a sophomore, already is in the Valley preparing for next month’s training camp.

Mikkel Boedker
Boedker is currently skating four times per week with other pro and amateur players at the Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale as part of the annual AthletesResource Training and Conditioning Camp. In addition, he is working out off the ice at Athletes’ Performance in Tempe.

“I’m very excited for training camp,” Boedker said. “The mindset is to go in there and play my game and whatever happens happens. My goal is to make the team and be a forward that can really contribute. The key for me is I’ve got to work at it and I’ve really got to be on top of my game every game. I feel I’m prepared to do that.”

The Coyotes selected Boedker with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Four months later, he was a regular in the NHL as Phoenix tried to win with a handful of young players in the lineup. But the Coyotes missed the playoffs that season and, as a result, General Manager Don Maloney turned to more experienced players for 2009-10. Boedker, and other young prospects from the ‘08-09 team, did not make the ‘09-10 team and were assigned to the San Antonio Rampage - the team’s top affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Boedker admits it took him time to accept the demotion.

“It’s never fun to get sent down and it probably hit on my confidence a little bit and I probably started to think too much,” he said. “… It was tough. But I feel I came out pretty strong from it and I feel I learned a lot from it. There were opportunities there and I think I grew up a lot. I think it was for the best. There were a lot of us young guys down there and we got to work at it together. It was very good for all of us.”

Mikkel Boedker at the Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale. Photo by Dave Segrove.
Soon Boedker will compete with those other young guys - namely Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov and Brett MacLean - for a spot on Phoenix’s ‘10-11 roster.

“We need Mike,” Maloney said. “He has all the physical ingredients to be a very good player in this league. The question is whether he is ready to be that player – maturity-wise – and a matter of whether he can come into camp and grab a hold of a roster position and say ‘this is mine.’”

Asked to elaborate, Maloney said: “He has tremendous outside speed but the biggest thing for him is he has to get into the battles and stay in the battles and win the battles. Mike has to be consistently determined to win his little one-on-one battles wherever he is on the ice… I like Mike a lot. He’s a good guy and we need his speed in the lineup. We lost (Matthew) Lombardi, but we don’t want to lose that high-tempo pace. So he’s really a guy who has me sitting here with my fingers crossed hoping that he comes into camp and grabs a spot.”

Maloney said even if Boedker wins a job in training camp he will need to make an immediate impact to keep it. In other words, there will be no 20-game grace period like he and Turris and Tikhonov received in their rookie seasons two years ago.

Mikkel Boedker spent most of the 2009-10 season in the AHL.
Boedker notched 11 goals and 17 assists in 78 games with the Coyotes in ‘08-09 and was minus-6. Last season, he notched 11 goals and 27 assists in 64 games with San Antonio. He said a hand injury, which he had surgically repaired after the season, affected his stats, including his minus-19 ratio.

Boedker, whose hand feels fine now, is not the only Coyotes player skating at the Ice Den these days. Captain Shane Doan, newcomer Ray Whitney and defensemen Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin and Derek Morris also are getting a head start on training camp there. Others are expected to join them in the coming weeks.

Boedker said he enjoys hanging out with the older players and watching them approach their jobs at this point in the off-season.

“I get to see what’s helped them to stay in the league so long,” Boedker said. “Just that alone helps me a lot.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to watch a short video on Boedker.
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