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It's Crunch Time for Key Prospects

by Anthony Perez / Arizona Coyotes
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes’ highly competitive training camp will become even more competitive this week as final roster spots will be awarded by the weekend.

Forwards Mikkel Boedker, Viktor Tikhonov and Kyle Turris are three young prospects looking to make a final push for the opening night roster.

Kyle Turris. Photo by Getty Images
The three players, who practiced together as a line on Monday, will have more opportunities to show what they can do this week as the Coyotes play exhibition games tonight in Calgary and Wednesday in Edmonton. After those games, the roster will be cut to 23 before the Coyotes depart for Europe on Sunday.

“We’ve got some young players who have played very well, that are close to jobs,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said on Monday before the team departed for Calgary. “But for them to get jobs they have to push veterans out and we’ve had a couple veterans that have opened the door for them.”

The three players – all recent first-round draft picks by the Coyotes – are eager to make their “final push.”

“There’s two games and three days left and I’m just trying to give it everything I have and work hard and chip in wherever I can to make this team,” said Turris, who is battling Kyle Wellwood and Andrew Ebbett for the final center position. “They’re going to be really important games, and I’m just going to work hard and try to make the best of the opportunity.”

Boedker, a winger, has embraced the competitive nature of training camp and is excited for the opportunity to show the Coyotes’ decision makers what he can do one last time this week.

Mikkel Boedker. Photo by Getty Images.
“It’s always fun when there’s competition and it’s always fun to compete and play the sport you love, and it’s a competition and it’s getting tougher every day,” Boedker said. “I’m just trying to keep up with the pace, and trying to do my best, and I’m still trying to learn everyday.”

Boedker feels like he’s had a good training camp and made strides in his development as a player.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Boedker said. “I learned a lot last year (in the AHL) and I think I’ve listened to what the older guys have told me, especially the older guys that have been around the league that have many training camps behind them.”

Tikhonov, a winger, is pleased with the effort he has given at camp.

“It’s been a good camp so far,” Tikhonov said. “I’ve been playing the way I’ve wanted to and I’ve learned a lot already. I can see that the coaches are putting a little more trust in me and that’s definitely pumping my tires.”

Viktor Tikhonov. Photo by Getty Images.
Tikhonov, who played in 61 games during the 2008-09 season with the Coyotes before spending last year in both the AHL and the KHL, said that one year of development outside of the NHL is benefitting him now.

“Especially when you’re younger, when you’re learning all the systems, you’re watching all the veterans, you honestly probably learn the most from them and you see how they play, watch their type of game, and you try to take a little bit of their game into yours and that’s what makes you develop,” Tikhonov said.

Like Turris and Boedker, Tikhonov knows this week’s two games are critical.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but it’s a good kind of nervous,” Tikhonov said. “It’s the kind (of nervousness) that makes you a little sharper and makes you focus on what you’re doing.”

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