Domi’s opportunity has arrived

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Barring unforeseen disasters of his own or fate’s making, Max Domi will make the Coyotes roster this fall. And when he does, there will be pressure.

Pressure to play a complete game in all three zones. Pressure to compete every shift. Pressure to avoid the rookie-mandated mistakes that will get coach Dave Tippett’s teeth grinding. And pressure to produce offense.

"If he comes in, he has to be a player that’s going to play in your top six (forwards)," Tippett said.

Domi is aware of all those details, but it’s not apparent in his pulse or his outlook.

"I just try and come to the rink and play hockey and have fun and usually let the rest take care of itself," he said with a shrug during a media scrum at the Coyotes prospect development camp. "I’ve got to make the team first, and once that happens, we can go from there."

Domi, the team’s top pick in 2013 (12th overall), came very close to making the roster last season before being shipped back to London of the OHL to mature another year.

"We didn’t have anybody to play with (Martin) Hanzal and (Radim) Vrbata. That was a legitimate option," Tippett said. "We just felt like it was such a big jump for him that it was better off in the long term of his development to go back and player junior one more year." 

But with Vrbata off to Vancouver, center Mike Ribeiro bought out and precious few options for goal scoring available to Tippett barring some offseason trades, the belief is Domi will have to fall flat on his face to miss out on a roster spot as the team embraces a youth movement in which he is the centerpiece.

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"It’s definitely a different outlook on things," Domi said. "Coming in with the second year and having one underneath my belt makes a huge difference. You don’t really realize that until you go through it."

Domi knows the devil will be in the details when training camp arrives this fall.

"Guys in the NHL that are superstars are still working on their game, so for a junior hockey player, it’s pretty easy to find things to work on," he said. "All the little things in making it to the NHL is the biggest part."  

But there’s also the familiarity that comes with having gone through a pro camp already — a feeling he didn’t have last year.

"I watched these guys on TV, and now I’m playing with them. Getting that out of your head and just playing your game was a lot tougher than people realize," he said. "I obviously grew a lot as a player and as a person in that month. I felt like I got about 10 years older learning those guys."

When the regular season ended, Maloney said the Coyotes would probably try to live with Domi’s mistakes early next season with the hope that there would be big returns later on. But that balance can’t get too out of whack, Tippett said, even if the team doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive options.

"When you’re a top player in junior like that, you get a away with a lot of things that you can’t get away with up here," Tippett said. "(If he) gets by that step at camp, then we’ll see if it’s worth taking the risk because there’s upside. 

"There’s going to be upside, but if you’re waiting for upside to come at the 40-game mark, the only upside is playing to get the experience."

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