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Young forwards key to Coyotes’ success

Young forwards key to Coyotes' success Seth Askelson/TSJ Sports


Speed, youth headline Arizona’s forward corps

The Arizona Coyotes were searching for a head coach that would compliment the high potential of their forward prospect pool. They looked to Pittsburgh for their answer, and selected Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet to be behind the bench.

Tocchet said he would let the forwards use their speed and offensive abilities, and it showed when the Coyotes had their first on-ice session on Friday. The players were flying up and down the ice during drills and a scrimmage, and Tocchet said he wants to see more from his players after day one.

“You gotta be in shape to play a fast style,” Tocchet said. “You can’t rest. 30-40 second shifts are really important. I don’t want guys resting and slowing the game down.”

Arizona’s coaching staff have three weeks to get the players up to the speed of the system. Players like Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller will be expected to contribute early and often.

But the offensive burden is not all going to rest on the rookies. Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be looking to bounce back from seasons in which they were dealing with injuries and, in Ekman-Larsson’s case, the death of his mother.


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It’s going to take the contributions of winger Anthony Duclair, as well. Duclair had his worst season in his short professional career, posting 15 points in 58 games for Arizona. He also spent 16 games in Tucson of the American Hockey League.

The Coyotes want he to return to the forward he was when they acquired him from the New York Rangers in 2015. In order to do that, Duclair must be consistent every day.

“I have to make sure I play both ends of the ice,” Duclair said. “I have to improve my game without the puck. I’m pretty capable of making plays, finding guys, and shooting the puck. At the same time, without the puck, I gotta make sure I’m pretty good defensively and not being a liability out there.”

The style that Tocchet wants to run suits the skaters currently on the roster. It will be a change of pace for the players at the last few training camps, as Dave Tippett liked to play more of a dump-and-chase style of game.

The forwards are use to playing more of an open offensive style. Many of the top draft picks were top scorers in juniors or college. The organization is hoping their play styles will mesh, and Duclair is excited to move forward with camp.

“The way I play my game, I’m all about speed and offense,” Duclair said. “We got a lot of young, good players that are dying to crack this roster. They obviously have a good chance in doing so it’s pretty exciting times.”


Arizona still has veteran forwards that line their roster. They bring back center Brad Richardson from a broken right leg. Jordan Martinook and Tobias Rieder will be looked upon to help the young forwards progress.

The team brought in six-year pro Emerson Etem to add forward depth. He is a player that is well traveled around the league, bringing a lot of experience to the table. Etem, known around the league as one of the fastest skaters, was impressed with the opening session.

“It’s one of the fastest groups I’ve ever been a part of,” Etem said. “Especially first day of camp, usually starts to pick up after the first skate, but we got right to it.”

The Coyotes open their preseason Monday at home against the Los Angeles Kings.