“We’ll continue to push them along,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said of the three young forwards. “We’ll see if they can help us win… The first part of the equation is over, but the hard part is still to come.”
Duclair will open the season with 18 NHL games on his resume, and Martinook has played eight games. But for Domi, whom the Coyotes drafted with the 12th overall pick in 2013, the season opener at Los Angeles on Friday will mark his NHL debut.
“I can’t wait,” Domi said. “It’s really exciting, for sure. My family’s going to come down… Hopefully we can get a win and start the season off the right way.”
Domi is trying to keep making the Opening Night roster in perspective and not get too excited.
“Every day is a tryout for a young guy,” Domi said. “The lineup is not set in stone. So we’ve got to work for it and earn everything we get. We’re expected to do that and excited for the opportunity. It’s going to be a challenge, for sure, but that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Domi, of course, is the son of former NHL tough guy Tie Domi and he grew up around NHL rinks. Tippett believes that upbringing will serve him well Friday night in LA and beyond.
“Max has been around the NHL his whole life,” Tippett said. “He’s been waiting for this game to come for a long time.”
The Coyotes are counting on Domi, 20, to produce offensive numbers as a rookie.
“The speed and tenacity of his game are things we really love,” Tippett said. “I think there are ways for him to continue to generate more offense, but he’s a good, young player and I’m looking forward to see what he can do.”
Ditto for Duclair, 20, who played on a line with Domi and center Martin Hanzal for most of camp.
“He’s obviously got skill and speed and we need him to use that,” Tippett said.
Duclair made the Opening Night roster with the New York Rangers last season, but, frankly, he wasn’t expecting that to happen. This time around he came to camp expecting to earn a job.
“It’s a great feeling,” Duclair said. “I’m pretty excited to get things going… We’re coming into a situation where we need to deliver. Me and Max are coming from juniors and we’re stepping into big roles, and I think we’re ready for that and ready for the challenge.”
While Domi and Duclair were both expected to make the roster, the same cannot be written of Martinook. But, the 58th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft wowed management the past two weeks with hard work, energy and a this-could-be-my-last chance approach.
“That’s a perfect example of a young player that puts the work in,” Tippett said. “… He plays the game fast (and) he thinks the game well. You could argue he was our best forward in training camp. He played more games than anybody but that’s because he played well. He was a factor in every game he played.”
Martinook, 23, is ecstatic to be on the Opening Night roster for the first time.
“This is just step one for me,” Martinook said. “Obviously, I want to stay long-term and I’m going to treat everyday like it’s still training camp and I’m still being evaluated like tryouts. I feel like that should help me in the long run.”
► The three players trimmed from the roster on Sunday were forward Matthias Plachta and goalie Louis Domingue, who were assigned to the American Hockey League, and 2015 first-round draft pick Dylan Strome, who was assigned to his junior team – the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.
Tippett on Strome: “He had an excellent camp and really opened a lot of eyes of our staff… Right now his mind and his anticipation and thinking the game is strong enough, but his body needs to get stronger. He understands that.”
Tippett on Plachta: “He’s a smart player. I think it’s best for him to go down to the minors and, not just play smart, but try to get his confidence with the offensive part of the game that will help him become an NHL player.”
Tippett on Domingue: “He was rewarded with some extra days because of the work he put in through camp, and his attitude was excellent.”
► Captain Shane Doan and defenseman Zbynek Michalek did not practice on Sunday because they are nursing minor injuries.
► Center Antoine Vermette missed practice on Sunday because he flew to Chicago for a ceremony at which he and his former Blackhawks teammates were presented their Stanley Cup rings.
► The Coyotes left the Valley as a group on Sunday afternoon for an overnight team-bonding trip that will feature a round of golf. They will resume practice on Tuesday.