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They're Back: Clayton Keller

The young scoring threat talks visiting the Bahamas, playing hockey in Slovakia, and the importance of having fun

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

As training camp draws near, a number of Coyotes players have begun to assemble for informal skates at Gila River Arena, many taking the ice together for the first time since April. With the offseason coming to a close, we touch base with a few names to catch up on the preceding months and the season ahead.

They're Back: Summer Q&A Series

Clayton Keller is entering his third season with Arizona. The 21-year-old forward led the Coyotes in points last season [47] while dressing in all 82 of the team's regular season games. He signed an eight-year contract extension on Wednesday.

You're back in Arizona for the upcoming season, how was your summer?

After the season I went to the Bahamas for a little bit and relaxed, than I went back home for about two weeks, then went to the [IIHF World Championships] and had a great time in Slovakia, spent another week back home and then came out here to spend most of my summer in Arizona training with a great group of guys down here; Richardson Fischer, Dvorak, guys like that. I loved spending my summer here.

What was the highlight of your time spent away from the rink?

Probably going to the Bahamas, I went to a nice place down there and had a lot of fun, I was able to relax, take some time off, and refresh.

Did you keep in touch or train with any of your teammates during the offseason?

I trained mainly with the guys who were here in Arizona because this is where I've spent most of my summer, some of the younger guys. It was awesome to train with those guys and build relationships with maybe some of them I didn't know as well.

As far as the upcoming season, what excites you the most?

Just our team. I think we have an unbelievable roster and I think that if we play the right way, we're going to get results. Everyone's excited for the year to start.

Fighting for a playoff spot up until the second-to-last game in 2018-19, what did you learn from that experience, how is the team looking to build on that?

It just shows how hard it is to actually make the playoffs and how crucial those games are. It gives us that experience, so next time we're in it we may not be as anxious, so it's good that we got that. This year, we want to make it and take it to the next level.

How do you feel the roster has been improved and rejuvenated with the acquisitions of forwards Phil Kessel and Carl Soderberg?

Two veteran players. Phil, he's obviously an unbelievable goal scorer and he can really play well with the puck, he's so smart out there. Soderberg, he had an unbelievable year last year, he can shut down teams' top lines, and he's a really skilled player as well. It's awesome to get those two guys to help us take the next step.

What is driving your motivation for the coming season?

Just to have a good year and to have fun. That's when I'm playing my best hockey, when I'm not thinking and I'm having fun, so that's the biggest thing for me.

Your goals for the 2019-20 campaign, personal and for the team, what are they?

I've always set personal goals growing up as a kid, but I don't really share them. The main goal is making the playoffs this year. Whatever I have to do to help the team do that this year, I'm going to do it.

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