GLENDALE – Several of the Coyotes high-end prospects are taking part in development camps for Team USA and Team Canada this week, as those entities begin preparations for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
First-round draft picks Dylan Strome, Nick Merkley and Jakob Chychrun are attending Canada’s camp, and first-round pick Clayton Keller and second-round pick Christian Fischer are attending the USA’s camp.
The two teams will play an exhibition game against each other on Saturday at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. NHL Network will broadcast that game at 4 p.m. (AZ time).
|Dylan Strome. Photo by Norm Hall. |
Strome, of course, was a member of Canada’s World Junior team last year when the Canadians finished a disappointing sixth. While he’s attending this year’s camp, Strome would prefer to be playing in the NHL this season and skip a return trip to the World Junior.
Coyotes General Manager John Chayka said that might happen because Strome has made great progress since being one of the final players cut from Arizona’s training camp last season.
“I think he’s come a long way,” Chayka told SiriusXM NHL Network. “He’s certainly dedicated himself to the physical side … He’s a 6-foot-3 centerman with great smarts and a great shot and makes players on the ice better, and he can play a 200-foot game … As camp wears on and fatigue starts to set in and he’s playing up against bigger and stronger players, I think he’ll have that endurance this year to get himself through. Right now he’s doing everything that he can to make sure that’s the case and that’s a comforting thing as a manager to see.”
• Team Finland and Team Sweden also are in Plymouth, Mich., this week for exhibition games as they, too, prepare their rosters for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Jens Looke, whom the Coyotes drafted in the third round in 2015, is trying to earn a spot on Sweden's roster for a second time. On Wednesday, Looke scored twice in a 4-3 loss to the USA on the first day of three days of exhibition games. Keller assisted on the USA's first goal.
• Sensing that Strome and other young centers in the system such as Christian Dvorak and Laurent Dauphin are close to being NHL-ready, the Coyotes this week bought out the second year of veteran center Antoine Vermette’s contract. Vermette is now free to sign with any other NHL team.
Chayka said cutting ties with Vermette, a fan favorite, was a difficult decision.
“It was a tough one,” Chayka told SiriusXM NHL Network. “It’s the toughest day I’ve had so far in this role … Antoine was a class act for us, and on and off the ice he’s a great player and a great person, and he helped us grow this organization. We’re certainly thankful and grateful for that. For us, it just came down to a matter of we have to continue to improve our group and we need to move forward and get better as quickly as we can. With some of the young players that we have in the pipeline there’s some flexibility that this move creates. We felt it was necessary to do so to improve our group. It was a tough decision.”
• Captain Shane Doan recently was asked to compare playing in the NHL as a teenager in 1995 to playing in the League as a 39-year-old last season.
“The biggest thing that’s changed everything is video,” Doan said. “The coaches watch video of every game and if you make a mistake it’s pointed out, so it holds accountable every player."
Doan said the speed of the game also has changed.
"Everyone goes 45 seconds, or 35 or 40 seconds, every shift," Doan said. "When I came into theLeague, one minute and 15 seconds was probably acceptable. It’s changed drastically and it’s going to continue to get faster and faster.”
• The NHL recently announced its national TV broadcast schedule. The Coyotes will be featured on NBC Sports Network once in the regular season, when they host the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 1.
• Sweater numbers have been assigned to many of the new Coyotes: Alex Goligoski (No. 33), Jamie McGinn (No. 88), Ryan White (No. 25), Luke Schenn (No. 2), Anthony DeAngelo (No. 77). Meanwhile, Brad Richardson will switch from No. 12 last season to No. 15 this season.