GLENDALE - The countdown to the 2018-19 season is underway for the Coyotes, who will start the new 82-game campaign in just over six weeks at Dallas on Oct. 4.
Players are starting to trickle into Arizona as the summer winds down, and soon training camp workouts will be a daily event inside Gila River Arena.
Newcomer Alex Galchenyuk, for one, is eager to get started.
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"If you look around the League, the teams that are winning started from almost scratch and slowly made their way up through young players and developing young players, and also having a great veteran presence," Galchenyuk said. "If you look at our roster, we have that. I feel as a team we're going to keep getting better and better, and I'm excited to be a part of it."
Galchenyuk is expected to start skating in Arizona soon. Fans can meet him, and other players, at the recently announced Fan Festival scheduled for Sept. 8 at Gila River Arena.
Galchenyuk, Michael Grabner and Vinnie Hinostroza are three new forwards expected to boost Arizona's goal production. Galchenyuk, 24, has notched 108 NHL goals already, including 30 in 2015-16. He has scored 27.8 percent of his goals on power plays, and the Coyotes are confident he can help them improve their PP production. Last season, Arizona ranked 26th in the League in power-play percentage at 16.9, and 31st in power-play percentage on home ice at just 12.3 percent.
"I definitely take a lot of pride being on the power play," Galchenyuk said. "When coaches put you out there, they expect big things out of you, and with so many games being tight-scoring games these days, a man advantage is huge. When you look at the roster for the Coyotes, there's a lot of great playmakers … I'm happy to come in here and fit in here."
Galchenyuk, whom Montreal drafted third overall in 2012, was born in Milwaukee while his father, Alexander, played minor-league hockey there. The elder Galchenyuk, who is from Belarus, competed professionally in Russia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and North America for 20-plus seasons. Alex grew close to his dad as they traveled the world for his career, and he credits him with helping him reach the NHL in 2012-13 for the first of six seasons with Montreal. Alexander served as an assistant coach with the Sarnia Sting while Alex played for that junior hockey team from 2011-13.
"Honestly, I don't know where I'd be without his help and support, not only hockey-wise but also growing up and maturing," Galchenyuk said. "And not just my dad, my whole family has been super supportive, and they're really excited about me moving here (to Arizona)."
The Coyotes are excited, too. The plan is to slide Galchenyuk into a center position on the training camp depth chart and see how he responds.
"I've communicated with Alex and he said he'd like to play center," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "I have no problem with a player who'd like to try something if he backs it up. So, I want to give him a chance at center if he wants to play it, and our coaching staff will try to give him the best possible help to play that center position. We'll see how that goes."
Galchenyuk, who played primarily as a winger last season with the Canadiens, can't wait to move back to center.
"That's where my head is and what my goal is," Galchenyuk said. "I'm training really hard and preparing myself for it. I can't wait to get it started."