Max Domi Not Heading to the AHL Makes Sense

Max Domi Not Heading to the AHL Makes Sense
Christopher Hair

The Arizona Coyotes have a number of prized prospects in their talent pool. Brendan Perlini was their 2014 1st round pick and finished a strong OHL season with 60 points in 43 games, adding 12 points in 11 playoff games. They have Christian Dvorak and Ryan MacInnis, two 2nd round picks from 2014 that were called up to join the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates, this past week.

The most prized prospect in the Coyotes’ cadre of young guns is Max Domi. Domi didn’t accompany his London Knight teammate to the AHL. Instead, the son of NHL enforcer extraordinaire chose to play golf.

Arizona’s affiliate Portland is three points back of the Sharks in the playoff race, but Domi said he has no immediate plans other than to golf and say farewell to his Knights pals. – Ryan Pyette, London Free Press

Not encouraging words to say the least. But, is it something that should be of concern to the Coyotes or their fans?

Not really. For one thing, Domi was banged up. He took an absolutely brutal forearm from Erie Otter forward Lane MacDermid that kept him out of the lineup for part of the playoff series between the teams. Domi returned during that game, but any sort of concussion issues are serious business. Domi played throughout the junior season, was a major part of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship squad and just finished two grueling playoff rounds.

Some rest would certainly do him good.

The Portland Pirates do still have playoff hopes. They play Sunday afternoon, and a win or OT loss would make them the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. A playoff berth would do great things for Portland’s young players and therefore the future of the Coyotes. Domi not playing in those games seems like a bad idea, but makes sense in the end. Domi is widely considered the best player whose rights are owned by an NHL team that isn’t currently in the league. He is the best offensive prospect the Coyotes have had in years. His value to the team goes far beyond getting minor league playoff experience.

Domi is the current keystone of the Coyotes’ future. After the result’s of last night’s lottery, even more so. The Coyotes missed a chance to grab one of the top two picks in the draft and will draft in the third spot. The draft is deep this season, but not getting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel is a huge blow for a franchise that needs a star.

Risking Domi’s health for professional experience at this point would just be adding to the pain. Domi will play in the NHL, likely next season. AHL seasoning won’t do him much good the rest of the year. Dvorak, MacInnis, and Laurent Dauphin (the Coyotes 2013 2nd round pick) are all later picks that could do well with the extra learning that will come with some AHL time.

On a roster that also has Henrik Samuelsson, Lucas Lessio, Tyler Gaudet, and Brendan Shinnimin, Domi’s presence likely won’t be missed for one game to decide a playoff berth. If Portland does make the playoffs, Domi’s abilities with the puck would be a great use, but keeping him healthy for next season is far more important.

It’s never encouraging when a top prospect isn’t called up when an opportunity presents itself. But after rushing players to the NHL before they were ready during the Gretzky era, Don Maloney is clearly taking the long view with the Arizona Coyotes. It isn’t easy to wait for, but Max Domi is Arizona’s future. It’s coming sooner than later. What’s a few more months? One can get in plenty of golf in that time.

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Christopher Hair

Christopher Hair has been an avid hockey fan for 20 years. He grew up on the Hollywood Kings of the late 80’s and early 90’s with Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Kelly Hrudey, and Luc Robitaille. Growing up in Glendale, Arizona he is living proof that hockey fans can be made and come from the desert. He is also an editor for Five for Howling.

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December 5, 2014. Max Domi (16) of the London Knights takes a shot during a game between the London Knights and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Greyhounds defeated the Knights 4-0 at Budweiser Gardens in London Ontario, Canada.

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