Friday, October 4, 2013

One To Watch: Phoenix Coyotes

The Desert Dogs have several interesting prospects in their system thanks to solid drafting over the last number of years. The organization has shown patience with them; even when a guy like Oliver Ekman-Larsson comes along, an AHL stint isn't out of the ordinary. 

That said, high draft picks like Mark Visentin, Brandon Gormley and Ethan Werek are taking longer than some expected. Meanwhile, Lucas Lessio and Michael Stone start the year with the big club. 

2012 Choice: Henrik Samuelsson - Quite frankly, Samuelsson could have been my pick again for this year because he's heading into a very telling season. Last year he evolved into one of the true power forwards in the WHL that could hurt you physically or on the score board. I wasn't sure if he'd be back from Phoenix right away this year but was returned by the Coyotes shockingly early. He's off to a good start in what will be his final WHL season. 

My 2013-14 selection as One to Watch for Phoneix is after the jump. 

Max Domi (C)
London Knights 
5'10, 194 lbs
Drafted 12th overall in 2013

Photo: Terry Wilson
I flip flop on Max Domi a lot. He's an undersized guy and yet he manages to put up pretty strong numbers. Then again, he gets a ton of ice time playing in London for the Knights, a team well known for Dale hunter's penchant for riding his star players.

There was the showboating in the face of the Kitchener Rangers after scoring an empty net goal. 

I spent most of last season with a negative opinion of Domi but then had a chance to have a lengthy conversation with him in Saskatoon during the Memorial Cup. I gained a completely new perspective on him; here is a guy who has been in the spotlight for years and yet in the shadow of his father. Not only has he succeeded in that environment but he's excelled and overcome complications with diabetes at the same time. 

I was pretty impressed with him off the ice in Saskatoon. However, on the ice, his performance in the Memorial Cup swing me back to the other side of the spectrum once again. Sure there was the crazy pass to Bo Horvat that was shown over and over again, but aside from that, Domi was a complete non-factor. 

If I was a team at the draft I would have been elated to see Phoenix select him 12th overall because that meant another player was still available.

Photo: Christian Petersen
And then came the reports out of Phoenix during training camp of Domi impressing with his work ethic and character. The 18-year-old was still in Arizona several days after the team sent Henrik Samuelsson packing so clearly there must have been something pretty impressive about Domi's play. Perhaps they were just trying to get him as familiar with the organization as possible, perhaps it was more than that. Whichever the case, I'm back to wondering if the Coyotes came away with a gem.

Then 24 hours after being sent back to London, Domi is in the lineup with the Knights and promptly gets booted for a blatant cheap shot against Guelph's Brock McGinn:
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Somehow Domi escaped that attempt to injure with only a 4-game suspension, possibly because he actually failed to injure McGinn. But what does that say about Domi now?

For me, I have an interest in following Domi's season much because he's an exciting player with a lot of skill but it also feels like it could go off the rails at any time. That's why Max Domi is my One To Watch in 2013-14 for the Phoenix Coyotes.  

Up Next: Anaheim Ducks     

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