GLENDALE – The Coyotes are using this year’s annual Prospect Development Camp to take a good look at their organizational depth at the center position.
Centers Dylan Strome and Christian Dvorak are using the camp to try to separate themselves from the pack and set the tone for possibly making Arizona’s roster out of training camp in October.
Strome, whom Arizona drafted third overall in 2015, came close to making the team last year, but the Coyotes decided he wasn’t quite ready for the grind of an 82-game NHL season. Thus, Strome returned to the Ontario Hockey League for a third season and led the Erie Otters with 111 points (37 goals, 74 assists) in 56 games.
|Dylan Strome. Photo by Norm Hall. |
Strome said it might have been a blessing in disguise.
“We had so much fun throughout the season, and I just grew so much as a player and a person,” Strome said. “I can’t complain.”
Strome has turned his attention to reaching the NHL. To do that, he knows the first step is standing out among his 43 peers at the prospect camp, especially in the intra-squad game set for Friday night at Gila River Arena.
“Last year we didn’t have a game to kind of prove ourselves, but this year it’s a little bit different with a lot more guys at camp,” Strome said. “ … I’m sure that game is going to be intense on Friday, and hopefully I can show that I’m a little bit better than the pack here.”
Strome arrived at prospect camp about 10 pounds heavier than he was at last year’s camp. In addition to adding weight and strength, he also has worked on the mechanics of his skating.
Head Coach Dave Tippett said Strome has looked good so far among the prospects, but training camp in September will be a better test for him.
“He’s got to put the work in this summer,” Tippett said. “We’ve had good communication with him about that. He’s certainly a guy that’s high on the radar.”
|Christian Dvorak. Photo by Norm Hall. |
The same goes for Dvorak, who is attending his third prospect camp. Like Strome, Dvorak, whom the Coyotes drafted 58th overall in 2014, continues to mature physically. He also came to camp a much more confident player thanks to remarkable season playing for London in the OHL. Dvorak led the league with 52 goals in the regular season, and he played a key role in London’s run to the Memorial Cup championship.
“This (camp) is an opportunity to learn more from the coaches and get better,” Dvorak said. “It’s just step one of the process and I’m just trying to enjoy it and trying to get better.”
Dvorak and Strome are hoping to follow Max Domi and Anthony Duclair’s footsteps from prospect camp to the NHL in just three months. Domi and Duclair stood out at prospect camp a year ago, and each made the Coyotes lineup for Opening Night and stuck with the team throughout the whole season. Both played 81 games for Arizona last season and they finished with 52 and 44 points, respectively.
“I don’t feel any pressure and I’m sure (Strome) doesn’t feel any either,” Dvorak said regarding reaching the NHL this season. “I think we’ll just try to play our games and try to do what we do out there, and whatever happens, happens. (But) we’re both trying to make the team this year. That’s our goal.”