When Will Phoenix Coyotes 1st-Round Pick Max Domi Be Ready for the NHL?
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After a stellar rookie camp in July, there is a strong indication Max Domi may be ready for the NHL.
Then again, Domi may be caught in the debate centering around the readiness of a 19-year-old for major-league competition.
Here at the advent of training camp, the Phoenix Coyotes, who selected Domi 12th overall during this summer’s draft, need his offensive power. Considered diminutive yet compact, Domi packs a solid 185 pounds into a 5'9" frame and possesses exhilarating offensive skills.
One issue facing Domi could be stamina.
The grind of practices, travel and games from early September into a possible playoff season in the spring could be an overriding factor. Still, Domi arrives at Coyotes training camp this week amid great expectations.
Helping guide the London Knights to the OHA championship this past spring, Domi was clearly an integral part of the title run. He led the Knights in playoff scoring with 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 points total. Domi also finished in an eighth-place tie for league scoring honors with 39 goals, 48 assists and 87 points in 64 games.
“My goal is to move to the next level,” he said during rookie camp in July. “I want to improve on all aspects of the game.”
The Coyotes have not questioned his offensive tools, but Domi could run into a traffic jam in camp. That’s because rookies Chris Brown and Lucas Lessio will each get a serious look.
Still, Domi arrives with the kind of offensive skills and production the Coyotes desperately seek. Here’s a team which averaged just over 2.5 goals a game last season. They need serious scoring help.
Plus, Domi’s ascension to the NHL level may have to do as much with politics as skill.
NHL coaches tend to be conservative with the movement of players directly from junior hockey. While Phoenix coach Dave Tippett would like to have Domi’s skill level and production, the jump from playing with 18-year-olds to competing with Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux and Dustin Brown could be daunting.
Given the competition factor during training camp, it is possible Tippett could lean toward Chris Brown, a native of Flower Mound, Texas. Brown appeared in five games for the Coyotes last season.
The measuring stick for Domi could be his offensive skills.
In addition to numbers, Domi finished second in the OHA as Best Playmaker and Best Stickhandler.
During rookie camp held in July, Domi managed to catch the attention of Tippett and Don Maloney, the Phoenix general manager. Now, Domi gets a chance to showcase his skills among veteran players.
“(Domi) is a highly skilled player with a great attitude,” Tippett said just after rookie camp concluded. “Overall, the camp gave rookies a good orientation and also a good chance to get noticed.”
As the high-profile number-one selection for the Coyotes, Domi will not be hard to find. Given the territory of a high pick and being son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi, Max is guaranteed to be the subject of much attention.
Given the Coyotes' anemic offense of year ago, Domi will get a hard look in camp to help jump-start a weak attack.
As a worst-case scenario, he could return to London and help the Knights to another championship. At best case, Domi could step into the Coyotes’ lineup and contribute with a 20-goal season.
Plus, don’t be surprised if Tippett experiments with Domi on left wing sometime during training camp. Domi could find himself on a possible first line with captain Shane Doan on right wing and Mike Ribeiro at center.
For now, it’s Domi Time in the desert.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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