NEWS & STATS
Prospect Camp Update: Developing, Young and "Old"
Photos by Norm Hall/Arizona Coyotes
Developing, Young and “Old”
A look at how Tucson’s young guns are relishing a chance at being a leader.
“The older guys.”
You know, the 21 and 22-year-olds.
Perceptively speaking, that’s how some 2018-19 Tucson Roadrunners are describing themselves at Arizona Coyotes Development Camp. Understandably so though, as for some the three on-ice sessions, community day and Red vs. White scrimmage culminate a wild ten-day stretch of previous unknowingness after being selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Those select individuals, such as Coyotes first selection (#11 overall) Victor Soderstrom, have plenty of resources to assist them through their first experience on stepping on the ice with an NHL logo on, however, maybe none more valuable than the comradery of fellow prospects.
“Coming into this, I look at myself as a leader here, because I remember my first camp, looking up to the older guys wondering how they got so good,” said defenseman Cam Dineen of his role. “It’s my fourth year here, so hopefully I can be that guy for the younger group this year.”
Dineen, 21 as of June 19, is the lone member of 13 defenseman at camp to have completed a full season of North American pro hockey, therefore another advantage he holds over his fellow blueliners, in addition to his previous time spent with Roadrunners Assistant Coach John Slaney, whom runs the defensive corps in Southern Arizona from October through April.
While Slaney is no stranger to the structure of the development camp himself, it is the first go-around for his fellow Tucson coach, Jay Varady.
Photos by Norm Hall/Arizona Coyotes
Hired on July 2, 2018, just after the 2018 Development Camp, Varady’s aspirations of leadership for his guys during their body of work during the summer of 2019 hasn’t been lost.
“I think it’s a great experience for them because it’s a little bit of a cycle,” Varady elaborated. “They’ve come through, they’ve been able to play an entire year in the American League and now here we are again at camp and they have to take the lead. They have to take a leadership role here."
Come the fall, leadership by designation of captain or alternate captain within the Tucson group may not fall on the shoulders of the youthful likenesses of Dineen or 22-year-old Brayden Burke, but for now, they know it’s a rewarding position to fill.
“You come here, meet new guys who are joining the organization and as an older guy, try to show them what you’ve learned from being a Coyote, the way you’re supposed to act, how to play, be around the rink. The game is a lot faster, the way you play has to be faster. You don’t have enough time to stickhandle when you think you might and you can see some of the guys out here who are coming from junior are making one extra move. That was me last year and now I’m just trying to teach them what I’ve learned in that area."
While stickhandling might not be the primary focus at hand for all, each skater and goalie alike has one facet where they’d like to be better at in the fall and in the long run.
For the newly re-signed Matteo Gennaro, honing his stride and efforts of his mobility are the immediate standout.
“Skating is a big focus for me. I’m really trying to take advantage of the time here and get in some sessions with Lars [Hepso], our skating coach here.”
Returning to the Old Pueblo with 58 games of experience under his belt, Varady likes the potential the forward from St. Albert, Alberta brings and wishes for that to come to fruition in the fall.
“Matteo just continued to grow for us all season long. I thought he did a great job in terms of filling different holes in our lineup over the course of the season.”
Bouncing between center and forward, Gennaro found himself slotted on a line with fellow first-year player and former Swift Current (WHL) teammate Tyler Steenbergen. In the third development camp of his own, communication between the bench boss and the fifth round selection (#128) of the Arizona Coyotes hasn’t lost a step.
“Jay’s called or texted me a few times already in the offseason and then obviously seeing him here we’re having some good conversations on what he thinks I need to improve on, as well as working on in the gym.”
Not limited to just the Tucson-bond though, Steenbergen acknowledges there’s details to be picked up around every corner, shift and turn this week at Gila River Arena.
“You have to learn from everyone here. There’s more staff than there is players, so anyone that can give you a good idea, you take it in.” Following Friday’s scrimmage the players will begin their steps to returning to their summer homes and training grounds where the onus of implementing what they’ve taken from this week will be solely up to them. Developing now, developing to be continued in Tucson (in-game) October 18.