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Prospects Awaiting Word On Final Roster

Multiple young players want to play for the Coyotes this season

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE - The Coyotes will travel south on Sunday to play a scrimmage at the home rink of their new Tucson-based American Hockey League affiliate.

The 1 p.m. game at the Tucson Convention Center is the team's penultimate on-ice session before the final round of training camp roster cuts. There are 27 players left on the roster and there must be only 23 by Tuesday at 2 p.m. (AZ time).

"In the next couple days we'll work through things," Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Saturday's practice at Gila River Arena. "We've got to be down to 23 by Tuesday, and some of it depends on the health of (Kevin) Connauton and (Michael) Stone. We've got a couple more days to work through those things."

The two defensemen are recovering from lower-body injuries. Both could begin the season on the injured-reserve list.

Stone, of course, suffered a major knee injury in a game vs. Philadelphia late last season. He's been rehabbing for six months and just last week was cleared for contact.

"These are crucial practices for him," Tippett said after Friday's preseason finale. "He hasn't played in a long time. I don't think he'll play in that (exhibition) game down there (in Tucson) Sunday. It's a matter of how he practices and how he feels. It's going to take him some time to get up and going again."

Meanwhile, multiple prospects have been competing for jobs at this camp and remain on the roster.

Forward Dylan Strome, the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, has gotten a long look; he played in all but one of the eight preseason games. He notched two goals and two assists.

"I like to be out there (playing)," Strome said of the heavy workload. "You don't want to be part of the crowd. The main goal is to be out there and I thought I did pretty good. I just tried to do the best that I could. It was nice to have the fate kind of in your own hands. Hopefully I earned the coaches' confidence to be out there on Opening Day. There's only a couple of days left and I guess we'll find out."

Forward Lawson Crouse also played in seven of the eight preseason games and chipped in one assist. Like Strome, he's hoping he showed enough to make the roster.

"Ever since I've been a little kid, it's been my dream to play in the NHL," Crouse said. "Being this close, it's nerve-racking but it's also exciting. I'm just glad that I've had this opportunity."

Forward Laurent Dauphin quietly impressed the coaches as a fourth-line center/penalty killer in six preseason games (one assist). He played eight games for the Coyotes last season, and that has given him an advantage over the other prospects without NHL experience.

"I worked very hard and did my best at this camp," Dauphin said. "I think about making this team, but I cannot do anything any more. We're just waiting to see where it goes from now."

Tippett said Dauphin shouldn't be considered an 'under-the-radar' prospect.

"He's played very well in that role that we have him in - that fourth-line center role," Tippett said. "He's competed very hard … He's still young but that competitiveness that he has is hard to overlook."

Forward Christian Dvorak was slowed by a lower-body injury at the end of camp, but he notched one goal and two assists in four preseason games before the injury. He practiced Saturday and may play in Sunday's scrimmage.

"I think it's gone pretty well," Dvorak said, "and I think I've gotten better as the camp has gone on. It's been an exciting opportunity."

Defenseman Jakob Chychrun is still in camp despite being just 18 years old. He appeared poised beyond his years in the six preseason games he played (one assist).

"I really want to stay here and contribute," Chychrun said. "It's been a great experience. They've really given me lots of opportunity that I'm really thankful for. I've been pretty pleased with how I've played. I think I've done a pretty good job of showing them the reasons why I think I can play in this league this year."

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