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'Yotes Notes: Hayton, Lyubushkin Make Opening Night Roster

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

GLENDALE -- The Coyotes announced their roster for the 2018-19 regular season on Tuesday and the list included four players who are injured and will miss the first game at Dallas on Thursday and beyond. 

Forwards Alex Galchenyuk (lower body), Christian Dvorak (lower body), and Josh Archibald (upper body), and defenseman Jakob Chychrun (lower body) will be sidelined to start the season. Their absences opened up roster spots for Russian defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and forwards Mario Kempe, Laurent Dauphin and Barrett Hayton, the 18-year-old center whom Arizona drafted fifth overall in June.

"All of these injuries are not long-term things," General Manager John Chayka said after the roster went public. "They're short-term so hopefully we're able to get off to a good start, and then we get those guys back and that raises us to another level.

Hayton is not expected to play in the season opener on Thursday at Dallas, but he said he'd be ready if Head Coach Rick Tocchet indeed decides to insert him into the lineup at some point.

"It's very exciting," Hayton said after Tuesday's practice, during which he served as an extra forward. "It was a goal of mine from the start. It's great. I'm just really taking it day by day ... In the lineup or not, I'm able to learn a lot and improve here. It's a great opportunity for me."

Hayton appeared in two of Arizona's seven preseason games. He suffered an upper-body injury in the second game and has been recovering at training camp.

Asked if Hayton would play in a game or just observe before heading back to junior hockey, Tocchet said: "You never know. I'll never say never, but obviously right now he's going to stay with us until he feels better and starts getting some practices in. Then we'll decide what we're going to do with him."

Chayka said being around an NHL team to start a season will benefit Hayton, whether he plays or not.

"He was great at our rookie camp," Chayka said. "He was our best player and did a lot of good things and made an impression on our coaching staff. We've got a few centers who are dinged up so we'll keep him around and take it day by day. I think it's a great learning experience for him. He can soak up a lot of different things and learn from the guys. We're excited to have him. We'll keep him up here with us for a bit and see how it goes." 

Video: Hayton: It's a Great Opportunity

• Lyubushkin, 24, is a five-year Kontinental Hockey League veteran who came to North America because he wanted to play in the NHL. With Chychrun sidelined, he earned an open spot on the roster.

"He's one of those guys who can go into a corner and stop a cycle," Tocchet said. "That's a good guy to have. Where other defenders have to defend with their stick and their quickness, he can go in there and kind of move some bodies around and stop cycles. And he clears the front of the net. If he keeps working on his foot speed ... and keeps being a first-pass type of defenseman, he could be a valuable guy for our team."

• Wearing a non-contact sweater, Chychrun skated with teammates on Tuesday for the first time this training camp. He had been skating on his own as he recovers from off-season knee surgery. 

"That was a good step for him," Chayka said. "He'll have another meeting with his doctors coming up next week or so and we'll get some more information. He's trending really well and looks great. I saw him skate the other day and he looks fabulous. It's just a matter of minimizing the risk and making sure he's in the best position to come back healthy."

• Forward Nick Merkley (lower-body injury) also skated with teammates for the first time on Tuesday wearing a non-contact sweater.

• Look for winger Clayton Keller to start the season playing center. Keller, of course, finished third in the Calder Trophy voting last season after leading the Coyotes in goals (23) and points (65) in his rookie season. Keller centered a line with wingers Brendan Perlini and Vinnie Hinostroza at Tuesday's practice. 

• Tocchet said the team would announce its alternate captains for the 2018-19 season on Wednesday. All five players who wore an 'A' under Tocchet last season - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brad Richardson and Derek Stepan - are back with the team this season. Ekman-Larsson, of course, was named captain before camp started.

Video: Tocchet on Hayton, Roster

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