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Fischer focused on earning full-time role with Coyotes this season

Power forward prospect scored on first three shots during seven-game taste of NHL in 2016-17

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Forward Christian Fischer got a taste of the NHL last season with the Arizona Coyotes and scored on his first three shots during a four-game span.

He played a total of seven NHL games, and he's hungry for more this season.

"My full expectation is to start the year with the Coyotes," Fischer said Monday after practice at the 2017 Prospect Showcase, an event that features rookies from the Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche and is being held at Solar4America Ice at San Jose.

"I want to have an impact. It's not just make the team; I want to play that full 82 games and have an impact every night, be relied on whether it be [penalty kill], scoring goals or whatever. The game I play is very versatile. I can play up and down the lineup. That's my full expectation, to play in the NHL this year."

The Coyotes chose Fischer, 20, with the No. 32 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. Last season, his first as a professional, he had 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 57 games with Tucson of the American Hockey League, which earned him two promotions to the NHL.

"He came up and played for the big club and played very well for us," said Tucson coach Mike Van Ryn, who was the Coyotes' development coach last season. "He's a big guy that moves extremely well and has a knack for finishing. A big (6-foot-2, 214 pounds) right-handed player. We're excited about him.

"He put in a tremendous amount of work this summer and was probably our most in-shape guy so far as the camp [testing] results went. This is a big body that's extremely well-conditioned and he's given himself every opportunity to make the club."

Most of Fischer's off-ice work during the summer was at EXOS, a sports performance training center in Phoenix, with Coyotes strength and conditioning coach J.P. Major. He also spent time on the ice with Coyotes skating coach Dawn Braid.

"It paid off," said Fischer, who scored a power-play goal in a 4-3 overtime win against the Avalanche on Monday. "Testing went really well. That's just the commitment I have to put in to make this team. That's just one step, being in good shape. This is the next step here, showing it on the ice."

Fischer said the highlight of last season for him was getting to play in the NHL with fellow power forward Shane Doan, who retired Aug. 30 after his 21st NHL season, all with the Coyotes franchise.

"That's one of the guys I looked up to," Fischer said. "I want to try to play exactly like he plays. We're the same body type. It's kind of weird how I got drafted by that team. That's a guy I always would watch. He had an unbelievable career. I don't think I could ever replace him, but I want to try to fill that spot in the lineup."

Fischer made his NHL debut Jan. 21 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Gila River Arena and scored at 16:25 of the second period on his only shot on goal of the game.

Video: TBL@ARI: Fischer drives the net, pots first NHL goal

Two nights later he again scored on his only shot, at 2:03 of the second period at home against the Florida Panthers. Fischer didn't have a shot on goal in his next game, against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 26, and he was returned to Tucson the next day. He was recalled March 21, and that night at the Lightning he scored on his first shot, at 4:56 of the first period. His streak ended when his next three shots during that game were stopped.

"It was crazy," Van Ryn said. "I don't know even what to say about it. It's remarkable, really. We're excited for him. As a coach, you want to see a player go up and do well, especially a guy that puts in the work like he does. Everybody was excited for him, and we're excited this year.

"He already has that NHL mentality with just how he takes care of his body and has bought in all year-round in trying to become a better hockey player. He's giving himself every chance. That's how he is. For a coach, he's a dream. He leads by example. The guys gravitate towards him and they watch what he does."

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