The Coyotes may live and die by the young swords this season, with Brandon Gormley and Connor Murphy both expected to crack the top six defensive pairings, as well as guys like Lucas Lessio and Max Domi also possessing good chances to make the team. It’s both a blessing and curse for the organization – on one hand, the NHL product has been less than satisfactory, but on the other the pipeline appears prepared to graduate several contributors to the big league squad.
Even after those graduations, the Coyotes still have some great things brewing, albeit it gets thin after the top names. Prospects like Tobias Rieder and Laurent Dauphin have been steadily improving and could soon be ready to take the next step. Throw in the excellent haul of this past draft, Don Maloney has placed this team in a great position for the future.
Let’s talk about Max Domi, though. Son of longtime NHL enforcer Tie, Max follows the trend of recent Coyote draft picks with NHL bloodlines. Max, though, is very different from his father the fighter.
Max Domi – C/LW (shoots L)
Birthday: Mar 2 1995 (19 years old)
Drafted: 1st round, 12th overall in 2013 NHL Entry Draft by PHX
Weight: 185 lbs
Elite offensive upside
Offensive, Domi is everything you want in a skilled offensive forward. He’s fast, keeps the puck safe and is a good enough skater to use space to his advantage. But his most powerful asset is his creativity. Think Pavel Datsyuk, Vincent LeCavalier creativity. This is best represented by this beautiful between-the-legs saucer pass for a goal two seasons ago. So he can be an elite distributor, but has also put the puck in the net off his own stick as well thus far.
Max Domi, London Knights, C – Career stats:
2011-12 – London Knights (OHL) – 21G, 28A for 49 points and plus-13 in 62 games played
2012-13 – London Knights (OHL) – 39G, 48A for 87 points and plus-33 in 64 games played
2013-14 – London Knights (OHL) – 34G, 59A for 93 points and plus-24 in 61 games played
200-feet, 60-minute kind of player
The industry term for this would be “compete” level. Domi is elite when it comes to his desire to win. He’s the kind of guy who plays better in the third period than he does in the first. His mentality, energy and work ethic are all at an NHL level, as to be expected from the son of an NHL’er.
Selfish (but not like that)
When I say this, I don’t mean that he’s a total ego headcase. Rather, if it’s a two-on-one breakaway, he’s much more apt to keep it than pass to his teammate. A trigger-hand isn’t a deficiency, but when a player is as skilled as Domi, he tends to trust his talents sometimes in lieu of the “correct” play. But he seems smart enough to adjust this at the NHL level.
It also manifests in his capacity to take some unnecessary penalty sometimes, but he’s not a penalty magnet per se.
Personally, I don’t think Domi’s height will keep him from making an impact in the NHL, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it did. At 5’9”, he is very, very small. He is thick in the shoulders and thighs, so that’s encouraging, but it’s still not a “projectable” frame. His game will likely always be finesse-based because of this. It will be an adjustment at the very least against NHL talent.
Domi will be given a fair shake to make the 2014-15 Coyotes roster, and will very likely make the team. With so many NHL-caliber talents, he can probably afford to skip the AHL entirely. But if he doesn’t acclimate immediately, he may get demoted. But it’s nothing to worry about. Domi figures to be the Coyotes’ future, and the organization cannot afford to keep a player as exciting as him down for longer than he needs to be.
I’m trying my best to be unbiased, but he’s a Calder contender if he gets a full season and produces for a playoff Coyotes team.