NEWARK, N. J.—It’s not the venue that counts but the opportunity.
For a franchise in turmoil, flux and confusion, the ultimate destination of the vagabond Phoenix Coyotes is of no concern to Max Domi, whom the Coyotes made their first round pick Sunday at the Prudential Center.
Domi says he is enchanted by the prospect to lace up skates at the NHL level and the end result of where the Coyotes play during the 2013-2014 season is simply not important.
Arriving in the desert amid strong hockey bloodlines, Domi admits the lineage, as well, is not an issue.
His father, Tie Domi, was known as an enforcer and amassed the third most penalty minutes in the history of the NHL. By contrast, Max, a diminutive 5'9", 170 pounds, is a scorer.
The Coyotes’ inability to put the puck in the net last season represented a major concern this offseason and a prime reason why Domi was their first-round pick.
For Domi, selected 12th overall, the ultimate destination of the franchise remains secondary to the bright lights of the NHL.
“I’m happy to be part of the organization,” Domi said just after his selection. “Really, my goal is to come to training camp, play as hard as I can and make the decision difficult.”
“The decision” is making the team, but whether Domi can make the transition between London of the OHL to the NHL level is marginal at best.
Traditionally, a first-round pick is not expected to make an NHL roster immediately. The path to glory begins either with additional time at the college or the junior level. The wait to skate in an NHL rink takes a few years.
In the end, the organization is more patient than the player.
“Every player is different but I love (Domi’s) attitude,” said coach Dave Tippett, in attendance at the Prudential Center for the draft. “(Domi) showed us he is a highly skilled offensive player and we can use improvement on putting the puck in the net.”
For a franchise which finished among the weakest in scoring, the Coyotes looked for scoring help.
Last season in London, Domi picked up 39 goals and assisted on 48 others which added to 87 points in 64 games. Unlike his father, Domi’s concentration on offense was influential in his attraction to the Phoenix organization. For London, Domi amassed 71 penalty minutes, but his penchant for scoring made the Winnipeg native attractive.
“Everyone wants to play [the] right away,” he said. “I know it’s a process and there could be some development. Like I said, I’ll do my best and want to make decisions difficult (for management).”
Domi is expected to participate in the Coyotes’ upcoming rookie mini camp slated for July 8 to July 11 at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. Tippett indicated all players chosen in the draft plus selected players from the Phoenix organization will also attend.
“The camp coming in July is like a ‘meet the players’ session,” Tippett said. “This is not a highly competitive camp, but what (Domi) does will enhance his chances at the full training camp in September.”
In the second round, the Coyotes continued to draft for scoring.
They dealt two picks later in the 2013 draft for the Devils’ second pick in the second round (No. 39) and selected center Laurent Dauphin from Chicoutimi. Considered raw but with talent, Dauphin scored 25 goals and assisted on 32 of 51 points in 62 games at the junior level.
NEW DEAL FOR MIKE SMITH
On Draft Day, the Coyotes announced they signed goaltender Mike Smith to a six year, reported $34 million deal.
After last season, Smith's status remained in question. Because of the uncertainty of the Coyotes' 2013-14 destination, Smith said he would wait for a definitive decision on where the Coyotes would play next season.
After general manager Don Maloney and coach Dave Tippett signed long-term deals during June, Smith decided to join.
Last season, Smith, a native of Kingston, Ont, appeared in 34 games and recorded a 15-12-5 season. He allowed 2.58 goals against and recorded five shutouts.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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