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Coyotes GM not happy with absent Ekman-Larsson

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney was happy that the long-awaited first day of training camp arrived Wednesday with player physicals at Arena.

But the fact that one of the team's top players, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, was not in Arizona made for some furrowed brows and head-shaking.

Ekman-Larsson apparently forgot to get his immigration papers in order in time for training camp. He is working on his visa, but will miss at least a few days and Maloney indicated there would be some action, possibly a fine assessed for the oversight.

"I'm not happy about it," Maloney said. "It's something that players are required to take care of and (his actions) shows a lack of getting after it. He's always in great shape and he's an important guy. But we have 57 players here and we're supposed to have 58 and there's no excuse for it."

Ekman-Larsson, who signed a six-year, $33 million extension in March, and Zbynek Michalek form the top defensive pair for the Coyotes.

One of the big questions going into training camp for the Coyotes: With Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan on either side of new center Mike Ribiero on the first line, who will join Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata as the left wing on the second line?

Three young players coming through the Phoenix system are the top candidates: Slick playmaker Max Domi, the No. 12 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Chris Brown, a big forward from Texas (second round, 2009) who scored 29 goals in 68 games with Portland in the AHL last season, and 2011 second-rounder Lucas Lessio, who played his way into the lineup for Portland in the playoffs last season after collecting 35 points in 34 games with Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League.

Lessio was one of the most impressive players in the just-completed rookie camp, but he took a shot off his right foot in a workout on Wednesday and left the arena with a walking boot on the foot. He’s listed as day-to-day pending further physical examination, but it is possible he won't be ready when camp opens Thursday.

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