GLENDALE – A few weeks from now, Coyotes prospect Matthias Plachta plans to travel from Germany to Arizona to begin serious preparations for his first NHL training camp in September.
It will be his third trek to the Valley since signing an entry-level contract with the team just two months ago. Earlier this month, the 24-year-old forward attended the team's annual Prospect Development Camp, and before that he came to the Valley for some informal, off-ice training alongside a few other prospects for a week.
|Matthias Plachta attacks the net. |
Plachta's trips to Arizona are all part of a grander journey he hopes ends when he earns a roster spot with the Coyotes.
"I really liked the prospect camp," Plachta said. "It was awesome to get to know all the people in the organization and the other players. They're all very nice guys. Signing with the Coyotes is a dream come true for me."
Plachta comes to the organization after helping Mannheim Adler win the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) championship last season, his fifth with the team. He notched a career-best 14 goals and a career-best 21 assists in 47 regular-season games and then chipped in five goals and four assists 15 postseason games. After that, he played for Team Germany at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic and helped the Germans avoid relegation by scoring two goals in seven games.
He signed with the Coyotes 11 days after that tournament ended.
"Matthias had a breakout season," Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. "He's a heavy, thick winger with a big shot and good possession skills. We look forward to seeing how quickly he can adjust to the smaller North American ice surfaces. He has all the tools to be a strong, power forward."
Plachta is the son of Jacek Plachta, a long-time national team player for Poland who was named head coach of that team in 2014. He also played in the top German league for 18 seasons until retiring in 2008.
"My dad was probably the best teacher I ever had," Plachta said. "He helped me get where I am right now. He pushed me to work harder and more than the other guys. It wasn't always positive but that's why I worked even harder. As I got older he left me more and more to myself, but if I had any questions he was always the person to ask. Without him I wouldn't be where I am today."
Plachta hopes to use the confidence gained last season to take the next step in his career.
|Matthias Plachta at the Prospect Development Camp. Photo by Norm Hall. |
Maloney has stated roster spots will be available for one or more prospects this season. High-profile forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are the favorites to land those spots, but Plachta, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 220 pounds, likely will fly under the radar and get a long look.
"I think the young players at the development camp have a good chance to make the team, but we know there are only a few spots open so it will be a good challenge," Plachta said.
Should Plachta not make the Coyotes roster in September he will get the chance to hone his skills on the smaller North American ice surface by playing for Springfield in the American Hockey League.
"I don’t have big problems playing on the small ice," Plachta said. "I've always liked it and I think it's good for me."
Germans who've played in the NHL include Dany Heatley, Christian Erhoff, Marcel Goc, Uwe Krupp, Marco Sturm and Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder, whom Plachta used to play against in junior hockey and then played with for Team Germany at the 2014 and 2015 IIHF World Championship.
"During the Worlds I was asking him how he likes Arizona and he said good things about it, so I was really happy that I had the chance to sign with the Coyotes," Plachta said.