GLENDALE – Like his teammates, Coyotes prospect Tyler Gaudet is looking forward to playing a pair of Rookie Camp games against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Gaudet, who has been mentioned as one of five Rookie Camp attendees with a chance to earn a roster spot for Opening Night, wants to show Coyotes management he’s prepared to take the next step of his career.
"For now, I'm focusing on my defensive side, and when you get a little more comfortable, you can focus on the offense," Gaudet said, when asked what he hoped to show General Manager Don Maloney, Head Coach Dave Tippett, et al before the veterans report to training camp on Friday. "I just want to set my role down first, and as I get more comfortable, build up to the offensive part of it."
Gaudet will center the Coyotes’ top line with first-round draft picks Max Domi and Henrik Samuelsson on Tuesday night in the first Rookie Game vs. the Kings. But once the veterans training camp begins on Friday, the one-time defensemen turned forward will be gunning for a different spot.
"I'm hoping to be a bottom-six player," Gaudet said. "(I want to) try to contribute on the defensive side of the puck all the time, and just be a very aware player on the ice and a 200-foot player all the time."
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Tippett values that type of player and will be watching Gaudet very closely over the next few weeks to see if perhaps he can beat out a veteran for a roster spot.
"We're trying to improve,” Tippett said. "We haven't made the playoffs in two years… We like everybody. Everybody's a good guy, but our business is about winning. If he comes in and says, 'I'm better than one of these players,' we have to look at that situation."
The Coyotes signed Gaudet to a three-year entry-level contract last November. After he notched 26 goals and 61 points in 65 games for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League he reported to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine where he played two games.
"There were a lot of guys in Portland that were very good players and I got to pick their brain a little bit and see what they thought and what they could give me for information," Gaudet said. "It was definitely an experience to see the speed difference and to try the pro game instead of playing juniors."