GLENDALE – Signed to a contract just days before the start of training camp, Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker took his game to another level in 2013-14 and wowed his coaches along the way.
"He took real positive steps," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "There's still steps for him to grow … but he's gone from being a young player who wasn't sure if he could do it to a player who knows he can do it now."
Boedker was one of only three Coyotes who played in all 82 games in 2013-14, and he established career highs in goals (19), assists (32) and points (51). Only defenseman Keith Yandle finished the season with more points (53).
"(My) consistency was much better," Boedker said. "I think I learned a lot; being consistent, it takes 82 games to show your full potential. I think being consistent in most of them was really important for me."
Switching from left wing to right wing, playing alongside Team MVP/Hardest Working Player Antoine Vermette for most of the season and working one-on-one with assistant coach Newell Brown before and after practices helped Boedker achieve the personal success he enjoyed last season.
In addition to setting career-highs in goals, assists and points, Boedker shattered his career high for shots on goal in a season with 166. By comparison, he notched 331 shots on goal total in his first five NHL seasons.
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"He’s confident with the puck and he’s now thinking shoot first, pass second, which is good because he has a very good shot," Brown said during the season. "And he’s found areas where he can shoot the puck instead of passing."
Regarding the seemingly illogical switch to right wing in early November, Boedker, a left-handed shot, said:
"I grew up playing on the right side so I prefer playing on the right. Believe it or not it’s much easier for me. I can be more creative and there are more opportunities to make a good play or get the puck in deep. It’s helped me a lot."
Highlights to Boedker’s season included:
• He notched his first three-point NHL game vs. Edmonton on Dec. 3.
• He played in his 300th career NHL game vs. Anaheim on Jan. 11.
• He scored his 50th career NHL goal vs. Tampa Bay on March 10.
• He scored the game-winning goal at Pittsburgh on March 25.
• He scored a nifty, game-deciding shootout goal against future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur on March 27.
Boedker is expected to play more hockey this off-season as a member of Team Denmark at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. He has played 19 games for Denmark, along with his older brother Mads, in that tournament the past few years and he notched six goals and five assists in those tournaments.