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'Yotes Notes: Hanzal, Michalek Debut at Training Camp

Martin Hanzal and Zbynek Michalek played for Czech Republic at World Cup of Hockey

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

Coyotes Camp - Hanzal Q & A

Hanzal on getting back to Coyotes following the WCH

Martin Hanzal discusses his return to the Coyotes after playing in the World Cup of Hockey

  • 03:00 •

GLENDALE - Center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek skated with teammates on Thursday to mark their official return to the team from the World Cup of Hockey.

Hanzal and Michalek played for Team Czech Republic at the tournament, and both said the experience has prepared them well for the 2016-17 NHL season.

"We competed against the best players in the world so that gets you ready," Hanzal said. "… I think I'm in good shape. I don't know if I'm behind or ahead (of the other Coyotes), but I feel great. Games get you ready. That's always better than the practices, and we played against the best players in the world. That's a great training camp for us."

Michalek agreed.

"We played six really tough games with high intensity and that can only help," Michalek said. "I think we've got a little bit of advantage over the other guys, so hopefully we can take it through the preseason and into the start of the season."

Team Czech Republic posted a 1-1-1 record in the World Cup of Hockey (not including exhibition games) and did not qualify for the semifinals.

"It's too bad that we're not (still) playing, but I think it was a good tournament and I'm glad I was part of it," Hanzal said. "Now I'm focused again on the season and glad to be back."

Head Coach Dave Tippett, also a World Cup of Hockey participant, liked what he saw from Hanzal on that stage.

"He played really well in the World Cup and was a key player for the Czech team, so I expect big things from him," Tippett said. "He looks good (at camp). He's fit and ready."

Hanzal skated on a line with old friend Radim Vrbata and Max Domi at Thursday's practice. Hanzal and Vrbata were regular linemates during Vrbata's previous stint with the Coyotes from 2009-14.

"Obviously we are glad to have Radim back because he's a shooter and he can score goals," Hanzal said. "I think that's what we were missing last year, so we are glad to have him back. Hopefully we can maybe play together and get the chemistry back."

Like Hanzal, Michalek is eager to start a fresh season.

"I think this team has got a big upside and it's up to us to show if it's deserved or not of if we need still some time," Michalek said. "It's a tough league, we're in a tough division and conference, so we've got a lot of work ahead of us. I think we can be pretty confident about our team."

• Forward Henrik Samuelsson, who missed a big chunk of 2015-16 because of an ankle injury, has scored a goal in each of his first two preseason games.

He's hoping to earn a roster spot with the Coyotes at this training camp.

"I'm feeling pretty confident with my game right now," said Samuelsson, whom the Coyotes drafted 27th overall in 2012. "Besides scoring two goals, I think I've been really solid in the 'D' zone; I've been plus in both games, so that was good. I think 'Tip' looks into that more than just scoring goals. You've got to make sure to take care of the defensive side first before the offensive side, so I've really been trying to prove that I can play more than just the offensive game."

Tippett said Samuelsson is one of many top prospects being watched closely at this camp.

"He's played all right," Tippett said. "His assets are his hand skills and his ability to score in tight. His skillset is really good. The pace is what he needs to get up to speed with. It's too bad. Last year would have been a big development year for him and the injury kept him out for most of the year so he's just getting back up to speed but I give him credit. He's played well in both games. He knows the competition for jobs is very stiff, but he's come in and played well so far, so we'll see where he gets to."

• Tippett said defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to arrive at camp on Friday morning. Ekman-Larsson recently completed play at the World Cup of Hockey as a member of Team Sweden.

• Defenseman Kevin Connauton, who suffered a lower-body injury while skating informally this summer, skated on his own on Thursday and briefly with teammates.

• Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo did not skate on Thursday. He's nursing a minor lower-body injury.

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