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'Yotes Notes: Ekman-Larsson, Raanta Practice on Final Day of Camp

Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Antti Raanta are nursing lower-body injuries

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

SCOTTSDALE - The Coyotes concluded training camp on Sunday afternoon with a full practice at Ice Den.

Head Coach Rick Tocchet noticed vast improvement over the 17-day camp, especially over the past seven.

"I think we've been better, from last week to today," Tocchet said. "Our goal is getting better every day, and some guys are starting to pick their game up, which I like to see."

Video: Tocchet: 'A Lot of Good Things' Coming Out of Camp

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and goaltender Antti Raanta participated in Sunday's practice as they continue to recover from lower-body injuries suffered earlier in training camp.

Ekman-Larsson skated the entire practice and was paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson, a good sign that he'll be ready for the regular-season opener on Thursday night at Anaheim.

"If he can gave us a couple more of those kind of practices, he's a guy that's obviously probable for the game," Tocchet said.

Raanta, who played just one of six preseason games, skated before his teammates on Sunday and remained on the ice with them for a large bulk of the practice.

"We've got to get him through a whole practice," Tocchet said. "It was a big step for him today. A couple more practices and we'll see where he's at, and we'll see what happens and who we start."

If Raanta isn't ready by Thursday, look for Louis Domingue to start the opener.

• The Coyotes shipped defenseman Dakota Mermis to the American Hockey League on Sunday. His departure leaves 26 players on the roster, which must be pared to 23 by Tuesday.

"We're going to have to make some decisions," Tocchet said. "The good thing here (with) the extra guys, whoever goes down (to Tucson) are so close … We'll try to get down to our team here in the next couple days, and then get two good practices in and go to Anaheim."

• Tocchet was pleased by the work ethic he witnessed during the team's 4-0 win at San Jose in the preseason finale on Saturday night.

"There was a lot of positives," Tocchet said. "I think our breakouts and our 'D' zone coverage is getting better. We're starting to get the concept. We're starting to know, when we're in a battle, where to go with the puck. We're still slapping it around once in a while, but I think that's going to come with reps and kind of just knowing where people are."

• Rookie Clayton Keller finished the preseason with a team-high eight points (three goals, five assists) and appears to be a lock to make the roster.

"I really like him," Tocchet said. "He's really good at patience with the puck. (If) he's in a corner, what I like about him is he doesn't throw the puck away. He gets that good ice and he makes a play. That's why he's got eight points. He's making plays. He's working hard. He's just a pleasant guy to coach so far."

• Forward Christian Fischer is among several forwards waiting to hear if they've made the team. Fischer, who played seven games for Arizona last season, is hoping to play his eighth NHL game on Thursday at Anaheim.

"It's obviously on a lot of our minds," Fischer said. "... (I'm) patiently waiting, but I thought I gave everything I could. I really don't have any regrets. I left it all on the ice. It's out of my control now."

Video: Fischer on Conclusion of Training Camp

Other forwards anxiously awaiting news on the final roster include Mario Kempe, Zac Rinaldo and Dylan Strome.

• Longtime NHL broadcaster Dave Strader passed away Sunday morning at age 62 from cholangiocarcinoma, a form of bile duct cancer.

Strader, who served as TV Play-By-Play Announcer for the Coyotes from 2007-11, will be honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame NHL Media Awards in Toronto on Nov. 13.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued the following statement regarding Strader's death:

"Dave Strader's calls combined expertise, passion for our sport, the ultimate in professionalism and a calm command of the story of the moment. Dave didn't just describe the action for a viewer, he brought you to the rink to sit next to him. As we mourn Dave's passing, the National Hockey League honors his courage, his warmth, his contribution to hockey broadcasting and his adoring devotion to his family. We send comfort and condolences to his wife, Colleen, their children and grandchildren and all whose hockey experience was improved by the sound of Dave's voice."

Tweet from @DallasStars: Dave Strader will be known as one of the greats. "The Voice" was a true professional and a friend to many. We raise our sticks to you, Dave. pic.twitter.com/GgdXSHe078

 

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