GLENDALE – The Coyotes will officially turn the page to a new season when they begin their 2015-16 Training Camp on Friday at Gila River Arena.
Sixty-three players – seven goalies, 19 defensemen and 37 forwards – are on the camp roster. Competition for jobs will be intense over the next week or so; Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters on Thursday that he’d like the roster trimmed to 30-35 players by the time the team heads to Canada for two exhibition games on Sept. 28-29. The final roster must be down to 22 players by Oct. 9.
“I think we’re all anxious to get started and see how the chemistry comes together,” General Manager Don Maloney said. “'Tip' and his staff spent hundreds and hundreds of hours looking at our team and looking at our mix and coming up with a plan for us to get back to, not only the playoffs, but certainly respectability… We think our mix is good.”
The Coyotes will be divided into three teams for the first three days of camp and each team will skate and work out off the ice together.
The first of six exhibition games will be played Monday vs. Los Angeles at Bakersfield, Calif.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Maloney has spoken all off-season regarding how the team will turn to some of its prospects this season such as forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. On Thursday, he said that as many as five forward positions are up for grabs as camp opens.
On the flip side, the team added multiple veterans over the off-season: forwards Antoine Vermette, Brad Richardson, Steve Downie, Boyd Gordon and John Scott, defensemen Zbynek Michalek, Nicklas Grossmann and Stefan Elliott, and goalie Anders Lindback.
“I look at this group right now and there’s not a rink we can’t go into and at least compete,” Maloney said. “…There are a lot of people who are anxious to get back and show people that we’re a lot better than we were, not only on the ice but off the ice as well. I think we’ve had a good off-season but now’s the time to get the job done and get started.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett agreed.
“The whole organization put a lot of time in this summer,” Tippett said. “There was a lot of things we had to address… You just don’t go through a season like we did last year without trying to fix a lot of things, and that was the case this summer."
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Captain Shane Doan will enter his 20th training camp on Friday morning. He, too, is eager to start a new season.
“There’s no way you can forget about everything that happened last year but you can’t do anything about that now, you’ve got to be ready for the next year and focusing on that and getting ready to go,” Doan said. “I’m excited about some of the new faces and the young guys, and them getting an opportunity to play.”
Among the 63 players at camp will be forward Joey Crabb and defensemen Keith Aulie and Corey Potter. All three are attending via professional tryouts.
Nick Merkley, whom the Coyotes selected 30th overall at this year’s draft, is on the camp roster but Maloney said Merkley won’t skate because of an upper-body injury he suffered during the first Rookie Game vs. Los Angeles on Tuesday.