As the 2019-20 season is upon us, it’s time to take an in-depth look at the rookies invited to the Arizona Coyotes 2019 rookie training camp. Who will stand out as players who can make the opening season game on October 5, 2019, against the Big Bad Boston Bruins?
There won’t be many open roster spots for the 2019-20 Coyotes to fill. Perhaps two spots can become available at the most. The team’s roster is pretty well determined with 21 players. The additional two openings would bring the roster limit up to 23 set by the NHL.
Arizona Coyotes 2019 Rookie Training Camp Players to Watch
Who Makes the Final Roster Before Opening Night
Youngster Barrett Hayton will be the frontrunner for one of those available spots. The 19-year-old was the surprise fifth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. His goal is to be a top-six forward and help the Coyotes with much needed two-way play. One main reason general manager John Chayka selected Hayton was that he is a 200-foot player. Very responsible defensively and a good puck handler with excellent hands.
He knows how to go after the puck and what to do with it when he retrieves it. On top of that, he has a nice offensive touch. He had 26 goals, 40 assists in just 39 games last season in the OHL. The problem lies that Hayton is a centre and the Coyotes are overstocked with centres. Names including Nick Schmaltz, Derek Stepan, Christain Dvorak, Brad Richardson, and newly acquired Carl Soderberg.
The solution is to start him out in the NHL on the wing to get adjusted to playing at that level. According to head coach Rick Tocchet, who was talking to The Athletic’s Craig Morgan, “I think he is a hybrid type of guy, so I think he could adapt to the wing positions.”
Assuredly, Hayton won’t be sitting in the press box because that won’t help his development as an NHL player. Since he is not eligible to play in the AHL due to his age, he either makes it to the roster or he heads back to Sault Ste. Marie for another year in the OHL. That could set back his advancement since he has dominated at that level.
Look for Hayton to be on a fourth line with Christian Dvorak and either Conor Garland or Christain Fischer joining him. Let’s just say he will graduate from the 2019 Coyotes rookie camp with flying colours.
The 22-year-old right-wing was the 30th overall selection by the Coyotes in the 2015 NHL Draft. He has been struggling to stay healthy for what seems like an eternity. He has suffered four major injuries in less than three seasons and just can’t seem to able to get going. Nick Merkley has some skills as evidenced by his 73 points with 28 goals playing for the AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners. With the injuries, he only managed 83 games, so hopefully, his health won’t be an issue going forward.
With his lack of games played if he gets the 14th forward spot on the roster, it might mean lots of games from the press box which doesn’t advance his development.
Let’s hope Nick Merkley has a good camp. You never know, a player like Fischer who has really not produced could be sent down to Tucson to get his game back in order.
Another 22-year-old player with lots of potential, but perhaps no room on the roster for him to take. He was the 63rd overall choice in the 2015 NHL Draft and has some excellent puck-moving skills. Last season he played really well gathering seven goals and 32 points in just 40 games in Tucson.
He would need to beat out Illa Lyubuskin for the final roster spot. With Lyubuskin being only one of two right-handed shooting D-men, he does have that advantage over Kyle Capobianco. If there is a need to bring up a defenceman due to injuries during the season, Capobianco should be the first one called to trek up the I-10 and join the team.
Now here is potential with a capital “P”. Victor Soderstrom was so highly thought of by Chayka that he traded up from the 14th spot to the 11th spot to draft him this summer. He is a right-shooting defenceman and the young 18-year-old Swede has been taken under the wing of Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Do we see a potential OEL/Victor Soderstrom defence pairing? It could happen, likely down the road.
He more than likely will play in Tucson to get accustomed to North American competition. Sending him back to the Swedish Hockey League is also a possibility. If he plays well at training camp starting September 12th, he should get his skates wet in the AHL to just round out his development. The Coyotes defence seems to be pretty well set at this juncture.
The 20-year-old Russian goalie had the fourth-highest save percentage in the OHL last season with a .910 mark. Ivan Prosvetov looks to have potential in between the pipes and could see himself playing in Tucson challenging starter Adin Hill in the net. At 6’5″, he covers a lot of the net and has the athleticism to match it.
Others to Consider
This 6’3″ centre tallied 102 points including 34 goals last season for the OHL champion Guelph. He then proceeded to accumulate eight goals, 11 assists in the playoffs. His scoring prowess is exactly what the Coyotes are looking for to help them. Nate Schnarr will easily make the Tucson Roadrunners lineup this season with his skills and size.
Kevin Bahl stands 6’6″ and 229 pounds and is a good skater as a defenceman. He can be very intimidating with his size and ability to take out players when needed. At just 19-years-old he will more than likely be sent back to the OHL. Playing with the Ottawa 67’s will give him some more development.
Jan Jenik is just 18-years-old but carries some promise for the forward line of the future Coyotes. He scored 30 points with 13 goals in just 27 games with Hamilton in the OHL last year. He is from the Czech Republic. Jan Jenik‘s well-rounded game could get some attention at training camp.
Tyler Steenbergen had a less than memorable first pro season in Tucson. He managed only nine goals, 22 points in 63 games. The 21-year-old forward will need to show he can improve his offensive skills to get noticed. While with Swift Current in the OHL he seemed to be an offensive dynamo tallying 98 goals in 128 games the last two seasons.
Cam Dineen is another player who has been plagued with injuries and almost forgotten. He’s 21-years-old and was a third-round selection in 2016. He hails from Toms River, New Jersey and has looked sharp in summer workouts. Training camp is essential for him to show he’s still a viable future NHL player. He had 12 points in 57 games last season with the Tucson AHL affiliate.
2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff Tournament
The 2019 Coyotes rookie camp continues with six teams competing in this tournament. They include the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes are 1-1 in the two games played. On Saturday, the Av’s defeated the Coyotes 5-4. Then yesterday, the Coyotes got past the Golden Knights by the score of 3-2.
Some scoring stats for the Arizona rookies show Steenbergen in the lead with two power-play goals, and one assist. Hayton has had one goal, one assist. Merkley has two assists along with Dineen. Jenik has two goals and Schnarr had two goals in the game vs. Vegas.
Soderstrom has not been on the scorecard but had five shots in one game to show he’s going to be strong on the blue line. In goal, Prosvetov had 20 saves in the win against Vegas and Kallgren stopped 28 of 33 shots on net in the loss on Saturday.
Training Camp Starts September 12th
The veterans make their debut with photos and physicals on Thursday. Then, with just one full day of camp for everyone invited the preseason starts on Saturday with a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile arena in Sin-City starting at 1:30 pm.
Getting the Coyotes down to 23 players will more than intriguing to watch. The players are anxious to get out on the ice and show what they can do. The competition should be fierce.