What You Missed This Weekend: Arizona Coyotes Rookie Camp Updates


Sep 15, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Henrik Samuelsson (55) carries the puck as Los Angeles Kings center Dwight King (74) defends during the second period at Jobing.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Well, color me surprised. The name being spoken at Rookie Camp isn’t just Max Domi– it’s Henrik Samuelsson, too.

The first weekend of the season is essentially under way, as the Arizona Coyotes newbies have started their preseason training camp at Glendale Arena. They will be joined by the veterans on Thursday, but for now, it gives the youngest players a chance to reinforce the opinions that the coaches have already had of them.

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  • Of course, rookie camp is never particularly a huge shock, especially under a head coach like Dave Tippett. The Arizona coach isn’t particularly known for going with the flashy, shocking roster selection over the safe, well-developed player.

    In this aspect, rookie camp isn’t going to provide much of a chance for players headed back to the juniors to make the jump on to the team. Rather, it’s a chance for the front office- and coach staff- to see if the players they’ve been investing their time in are developing the way they should, and if the players expected to skate out against the Winnipeg Jets on October 9th are truly ready to do so.

    The player most everyone has been talking about over the summer, of course, has been Max Domi. The center-turned-left-winger has the talent and energy to become a staple on the team, looking ready to join the third line this season in anticipation of eventually winning the second line winger spot.

    Looking Beyond Domi

    Camp hasn’t just been about him, though. As I mentioned before, all eyes seem to be on Henrik Samuelsson’s feet, which he’s been working hard to get on the same level as his hands. A notoriously slow and clunky skater, Samuelsson has the quick, nimble scoring ability with his stick- but has been held back since being drafted in 2012 to try and develop his skating technique a bit more.

    The Pittsburgh native may not be able to truly prove his worth until the veterans join the rookies later this week, but it’s been clear since the start of rookie camp that Samuelsson spent the summer doing everything in his power to make the roster this season. He was either working on speed and agility drills with his father Ulf, former ice hockey defenseman and current assistant coach for the New York Rangers, or showing up at voluntary skates in Arizona. He’s been practicing with the vets, working out hard, and making it clear to Tippett that he’s dying to make the team this fall.

    Hard work pays off, though. In an article published by AZ Central earlier this weekend, Tippett was quoted as saying that Samuelsson “looks more like a man instead of a younger guy.”

    "“Some of that is just maturity, but some of it is putting the extra work in. I’m interested to see the results and how he compares to other players.”"

    All eyes aren’t just on Samuelsson and Domi, on the offense, though. Other notable rookies that the coaches have been scrutinizing this weekend are future hopeful left winger Lucas Lessio, who would potentially compete with Domi for the third line roster spot, and centre Tyler Gaudet.

    Gaudet was an undrafted player who almost got overlooked altogether, but has literally kicked and clawed his way from a demotion to junior A to a three-year entry level contract with the Coyotes. Tippett, fascinated with the young Ontario native’s work ethic, has said that it’s not likely that Gaudet will make the team- but he refuses to count him out. After failing to get drafted in either the OHL or NHL entry drafts, the 21-year-old forward looks to be holding his own on the ice with the other young hopefuls at rookie camp.

    The final player to watch out for, though, has been the closest thing to a real shock of all the players to watch- and that’s Tobias Rieder.

    More from Coyotes News

    Heads began to turn Rieder’s way when Tippett was asked to review a tape of Andy Miele, who had made a position switch from centre to wing for the Portland Pirates last spring. Instead, Tippett was captivated by Reider’s versatility and two-way play; in addition to the 28 goals he scored last season, the german forward- formerly drafted by the Edmonton Oilers- showed a sound understanding of how to exhibit defensive play when needed.

    The team has a solid core of forwards already; in addition to vets such as Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette, the team has up-and-comers like Mikkel Boedker and fingers crossed that guys like Joe Vitale, BJ Crombeen, and Sam Gagner will provide additional consistency and experience on the team’s offense. With this kind of prospective lineup, though, the team looks to be in good shape.