GLENDALE -- Lane Pederson is looking to build off his first pro season, a campaign in which he scored a dozen goals for Tucson in the regular season, and three more in the American Hockey League playoffs.
Competing for the Roadrunners in 2017-18, Pederson, an undrafted forward who bounced around the Western Hockey League for three seasons, learned a lot about what it takes to play pro hockey, and what it takes to win.
"I really enjoyed my first year," said Pederson, one of 30 Coyotes prospects slated to attend this year's rookie camp. "It was definitely a learning curve, but it was a lot of fun. We had a great group in Tucson and a great mix of leaders, from (captain) Andrew Campbell on down, and a great group of young guys. We were a close-knit group and they did a good job of making sure everyone was comfortable and we did what we were asked to do. We won a lot of games down there. We had a winning culture, which makes it a lot more fun."
Pederson, 21, played in every situation for Tucson: 5-on-5, power play and penalty kill, and he filled spots on all four forward lines. The coaching staff valued his versatility and his dedication; he was usually the last player off the ice at the end of practices. Pederson also had an affinity for scoring key goals late in games, most notably the one to secure Tucson's first playoff berth vs. Iowa on March 31, and the one to secure Tucson's first playoff win at San Jose on April 19. He scored the latter with a heavy heart, having known some of the players involved in the horrific Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy on April 6.
Pederson is expected to play right wing and contribute offensively at the inaugural Vegas Rookie Faceoff event, which the Coyotes are competing in this weekend after starting rookie camp with a practice at Ice Den Scottsdale on Friday. It will be his third rookie camp with Arizona, which will play three games at the six-team gathering in Las Vegas.
"Lane had an excellent first year of pro hockey," General Manager John Chayka said. "He plays a mature game and has offensive ability. He'll be a young leader at rookie camp."
Pederson, who signed with the Coyotes two years ago after his first rookie camp with the team, spent the summer in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, his hometown. He skated there and trained, with an emphasis on becoming bigger, faster and stronger.
"There's definitely a lot of room for improvement for me on both sides of the puck," Pederson said. "Hopefully I can make that jump up to the NHL eventually. I'm looking forward to the challenge of hopefully playing for the Arizona Coyotes … But first I need to focus on the rookie camp. All the guys that will be attending camp have put in hard off-seasons and everyone has one goal in mind - to do whatever they can to prove they belong here in Arizona and to make a hockey team. I'm looking forward to it like everyone else is, and I am excited to get going."
Pederson also is looking forward to the format of the Vegas event. It's not a tournament, per se, but it will give the prospects a few chances to display what they can do against their peers in a game atmosphere.
"It's all about showing the strides you have made over the summer, whether that is getting stronger, faster, whatever that may be, and showing that you have developed from last rookie camp to this rookie camp," Pederson said. "The games are competitive and obviously you want to win. When you put the Coyotes sweater on, no matter if it's a rookie camp game, preseason game or a regular season game, it matters. The Coyotes want to build a winning culture in Arizona and that starts with rookie camp."