The Arizona Coyotes finished 29th in the NHL in 2015, and that made for a frustrated, impatient fanbase.
Luckily, the team has been stocking up good prospects for a few seasons now — and that truly came to a head when the club took both games of a two-game rookie series against the Los Angeles Kings prospects in LA this week.
The Coyotes took the first of the two games 5-3 in regulation, adding two more goals in the exhibition-only five minute 3 vs. 3 overtime period — then came back on day two to pick up a 4-1 regulation win and add yet another goal during the 3 vs. 3 exhibition. The Kings prospects were unable to score during the overtime period in either game.
For Arizona, it was hard to pick a single player that stood out as the best. Talks of Dylan Strome exhibiting strong hockey IQ were supplemented by his goal in game one, while 2014 first round selection Brendan Perlini would score a goal in each game and two of the team’s three goaltenders would only allow one goal against apiece. Max Domi was a strong contributor on day one, undersized Conor Garland would put up four points in the first game alone, and undrafted free agent pickup Dakota Mermis would prove his worth from the blue line with two goals and a fight to keep the momentum going on day two.
The Kings rookies had a few solid performers, of course — camp invitee and former LA Junior Kings forward Ty Comrie managed to find the back of the net on day two, and left wing Ryan Horvat was a physical presence who managed to mix it up with Mermis more than once. Still, the Coyotes prospects stole the show early on; for fans in Arizona, that was much-needed.
The team will see the players return to Arizona in time for training camp to begin on September 18, where they’ll be joined by some familiar faces to Coyotes fans — including last year’s top rookie Tobias Rieder, captain Shane Doan, and highly-touted blue liner Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The team may not do well this year, but their games against the Kings suggest — they certainly could be doing well very soon.