GLENDALE – The Coyotes moved one step closer to having their top affiliate based a little over 100 miles down Interstate-10 on Tuesday when the American Hockey League approved the team’s purchase of the Springfield Falcons and the relocation of the team to Tucson.
The plan is for the AHL team to join that league’s Pacific Division and start playing its home games at the Tucson Convention Center next season.
“We are very pleased that the American Hockey League’s Board of Governors today unanimously approved the transfer of ownership of the Springfield Falcons AHL franchise to the Arizona Coyotes as well as the relocation of that franchise from Springfield, Massachusetts to Tucson, Arizona beginning with the 2016-17 season,” Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the City of Tucson to finalize an arena lease agreement in the near future.”
The Tucson City Council is expected to vote on a deal with the Coyotes later this off-season.
Should the plan materialize, it would allow the Coyotes to monitor their prospects like never before.
“To have them so close where you can keep track of each other and watch each other’s games every night, it’s a benefit that with our team on the East Coast we haven’t had,” Head Coach Dave Tippett told reporters.
Connor Murphy (center) at the IIHF World Championship. Photo by Getty Images.
The 2016 IIHF World Championship is in full swing in Russia and the Coyotes are represented on three teams competing in Group B.
Defenseman Connor Murphy is averaging 20:54 of ice time and has chipped in a goal for the USA, which is 1-0-0-2 in its first three games. Murphy, who is serving as an alternate captain, was named the USA’s Player of the Game on Monday after the team’s 3-2 loss to undefeated Finland. The USA is off until Thursday when it plays France.
Forward Max Domi is competing for Canada, which is 3-0-0-0. Domi is playing 9:23 per game for the defending champs, who are idle until Thursday when they play Germany.
Forward Tobias Rieder has notched one goal and one assist in three games for Germany, which is 1-0-1-1. Rieder averaged 15:42 of ice time in the first three games. Germany next plays on Thursday vs. Canada.
|Shane Doan on NHL Live |
Captain Shane Doan had a busy weekend in the New York metropolitan area. Doan served as a guest and later as an analyst on NHL Network on Friday and Sunday. He also met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, toured the NHL Store in downtown Manhattan, and answered questions from fans via Twitter.
During the Twitter Q&A, Doan revealed:
• The toughest arena to play in is the United Center in Chicago.
• Aside from teammate Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Drew Doughty and Shea Weber are the best defensemen in the League
• The funniest teammates he ever has played with are Paul Bissonnette, Keith Yandle, Todd Simpson and Brian Boucher
• If he wasn’t a hockey player, his career would involve horses or construction
|Christian Dvorak |
Coyotes prospect Christian Dvorak notched a goal and an assist, and won 19 of 26 face-offs on Monday night to help the London Knights rally from a 5-2 deficit and beat Niagara, 6-5 in overtime, in Game 3 of the Ontario Hockey League’s best-of-seven championship series.
London, which has won 12 games in a row, can win the series and clinch a berth in the Memorial Cup on Wednesday.
Dvorak has scored 13 goals in the OHL playoffs.
Meanwhile, Coyotes prospect Brendan Perlini returned to Niagara’s lineup on Monday after serving a three-game suspension for cross-checking. Perlini took four of Niagara’s 30 shots on goal but did not score.
The Coyotes are preparing for next month’s NHL Draft in Buffalo, in which they're set to make seven picks, including two in the first round (No. 7 and No. 20). Arizona could add an eighth pick (No. 53) if it does not sign prospect Connor Bleackley by June 1.
General Manager John Chayka is eager to add more depth to the team’s crop of prospects.
“Our amateur scouts have done an exceptional job building up our prospect base,” Chayka said. “We feel real strongly that we’re going to get some real strong players both at No. 7 and No. 20. It’s exciting.”
First up, however, is the NHL Combine, which runs May 30 to June 4, also in Buffalo. Invitations to the Combine have been sent to 114 players eligible for the draft.
The Combine will give all 30 teams an opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the prospects. It also will feature medical examinations of each player and rigorous fitness testing.