After getting a taste of the NHL three seasons ago, forward Viktor Tikhonov
is back in training camp and is making a strong push to make the Coyotes’ roster.
“Viktor has had a very good start to camp,” Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving said. “He looks stronger and really has some tempo to his skating. Most importantly, he has that competitive, determined look of a player who wants a roster spot.”
Tikhonov, whom the Coyotes drafted in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, found himself playing in the NHL immediately, notching eight goals and eight assists in 61 games during the 2008-09 season.
Following that season, it was decided that Tikhonov still needed more development before he could be a mainstay on an NHL roster. He was assigned to start the season in San Antonio of the AHL, where he played in 18 games, registering a pair of goals and six assists.
Tikhonov was then loaned to Severstal Cherepovets of the Kontinental Hockey League and played in 25 games, scoring 14 goals and one assist.
Last season Tikhonov returned to North America and continued to develop his game in the AHL. Despite a mid-season injury, he played in 60 games and scored 10 goals and 23 assists with 26 penalty minutes.
When I came in the league I was just playing, hoping not to make mistakes. Now I feel a lot more comfortable in my abilities and just my overall sense." - Viktor Tikhonov
Tikhnonov says the last two seasons away from the NHL have been positive for his development.
“I just had a different role on the team (in the KHL),” Tikhonov said. “I was a first-line scorer; I put up a lot of goals. That grew me offensively a lot. But then last year in San Antonio I grew a lot defensively.”
Tikhonov added that he was happy with the strides he made last season.
“I had a pretty good year,” Tikhonov said. “We started off pretty good, then I switched from winger to center. That added a little more depth to my game.”
While Tikhonov was brought into the NHL as a winger, he played center during his junior days. He says he’s happy about the position switch and the fact that he’s developed a more versatile game, something that fits the Coyotes’ style of play.
“With Coach (Ray) Edwards last year we had a good system going,” Tikhonov said. “I’d play two periods at center and if we dropped down to three lines he’d put me at the wing and I’d try to go out there and score. So, it’s good switching back and forth.”
Tikhonov says that despite all the depth in camp this year, he feels like his game has improved to the point where he can battle for a roster spot with the Coyotes.
“When I came in the league I was just playing, hoping not to make mistakes,” Tikhonov said. “Now I feel a lot more comfortable in my abilities and just my overall sense; sense defensively, better offensive sense. That’s definitely made my game easier.”
While most players develop their game in juniors or the minors before joining the NHL roster, Tikhonov’s development process has been the other way around. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, he’s turned his absence from the Coyotes into a positive.
“It’s really motivating,” said Tikhonov of his absence from the NHL. “I’ve been here, I know what it feels like, and I know what it takes to get here… I’ve just got to keep pushing and pushing. That’s all you’ve got to do.”
Tikhonov is expected to play in tonight’s home preseason game vs. the Los Angeles Kings. He has been practicing on the right wing of a line with Lauri Korpikoski
at center and Raffi Torres
at left wing.