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Domi Determined to Make Coyotes this Season

by Jerry Brown / Arizona Coyotes

SCOTTSDALE -- The recent Coyotes Prospect Development Camp featured 39 players and enough familiar NHL surnames to ice a starting lineup.

Henrik Samuelsson, son of Ulf Samuelsson and the Coyotes' first-round pick in 2012 (No. 27), is coming off a 95-point season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. Brendan Perlini, son of former Toronto Maple Leafs center Fred Perlini, was Arizona's first-round pick (No. 12) last month. Coyotes coaches Sean Burke and Jim Playfair got to put their sons, goalie Brendan Burke and forward Jackson Playfair, through their paces. And Kevin Ekman-Larsson, brother of Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, was one of the defensemen in camp.

Photo by Norm Hall.

But there is one player with the best chance to add another generation to his hockey pedigree very soon. The Coyotes are hoping forward Max Domi, son of longtime NHL forward Tie Domi, can supply some much-needed skill to the lineup.

The Coyotes have seen a lot of offense leave during the offseason, including a buyout of the final four years of center Mike Ribeiro's contract and the free agency departure of Radim Vrbata.

Sam Gagner can slide into Ribeiro's spot as top playmaker, but the hope in Arizona is Domi, who had 94 goals in 187 games with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, can bring that skill set to the Coyotes lineup.

Head Coach Dave Tippett and General Manager Don Maloney have a track record of not rushing prospects to the NHL. But Tippett made it clear on the first day of camp there were players on the ice, among them Domi, Samuelsson and hard-working center Tyler Gaudet, who he would not hesitate to add to the roster if they continue their strong play into training camp in September.

"I play guys I can win with," Tippett said. "I play to win. When you get to the NHL you should play to win, not play to hope you can develop kids. Developing kids is for the American league and junior. When we put a kid in, he's in there because he can win.

"You look around this camp and you see people with the skill to help you win."

Domi made a strong bid to make the Coyotes last season but they sent him back to London. He responded with 34 goals and 93 points in 61 games.

Photo by Norm Hall.

"I watched as many (Coyotes) games as I could," Domi said. "And yeah, you envision yourself on the ice, playing in certain situations and trying to contribute. I would have loved to stay here. But at the end of the day they had a different thing in mind, so they told me what to work on. I went back and hopefully addressed all that, and hopefully it will be a little different this year."

This year has a different feel for Domi. Instead of hopes, there are expectations from management. Making the Coyotes last season would have been a bonus. Not doing so this season, not showing the top-six skill he has shown elsewhere, would be a disappointment.

Domi, 19, said during camp he's ready to show what he has and what he's learned. Like his father, confidence is not in short supply.

"Having a year under my belt helps a lot, just knowing what it feels like and what it takes," he said. "Soaking everything in, being around guys like Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette, watching what they do. We all want to get there one day and you want to make sure you take advantage of everything that moves you along in that journey.

"At the end of the day I have to come to the rink and make the team. Whatever that takes, that's my goal."

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