The Arizona Coyotes have kicked off training camp, begun their prospect showcase, and just recently left for Melbourne, Australia for the first-ever NHL games in the Southern Hemisphere. With a revamped roster and a new attitude, optimism is flying high in the desert. New additions such as Matt Dumba, Jason Zucker, and Logan Cooley headline a dark horse roster that hopes to sneak into the playoffs.
Excitement is running rampant through the Valley, and perhaps no one is more excited than newest defenseman Sean Durzi, who the Coyotes acquired from the Los Angeles Kings this offseason. With a fresh start, new surroundings, and new challenges ahead, Durzi is ready to embrace this new chance.
Time Spent In Los Angeles
The 24-year-old defenseman made a name for himself in his two seasons spent with the Kings, but it didn’t start out in Los Angeles. Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, Durzi was on the returning end of the Kings’ Jake Muzzin trade in 2019. He spent the next two years developing in the American Hockey League (AHL) with Los Angeles’ affiliate, the Ontario Reign, registering 34 points in 78 games. Upon the beginning of the 2021-22 NHL season, he was on the Kings’ roster, putting up 27 points in 64 games during his rookie season, in addition to playing 13 games in the minor leagues.
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By the start of the 2022-23 season, Durzi was a top-four defenseman on the Kings’ blue line. In 72 games he recorded 38 points on nine goals and 29 assists. He averaged 19:47 of time on ice and took overall strides in his game for the most part, but the Kings had a lingering problem on their hands. With an influx of defensive prospect talent waiting in the wings, general manager Rob Blake had to make room and clear up cap space for the impending Pierre-Luc Dubois trade. This resulted in the difficult decision to move the young defenseman to the Coyotes this offseason.
One Man’s Loss Is Another Man’s Gain
What seemed like a promising and lengthy career in Los Angeles, quickly turned sour. As they say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain. The gain in this situation is that the Coyotes are getting a young, talented defenseman who’ll contribute to the offense and serve as an important piece to the team’s powerplay. Most importantly he’ll see an increase in usage with the Coyotes, joining other young defensemen such as J.J. Moser, Juuso Valimaki and Victor Soderstrom.
Coyotes fans should be excited about the player they are getting, and Durzi is just as excited to be a Coyote. “If you look at the direction the organization is going in, the players, the people I’ve talked to and met so far, it’s really been first class, and it’s something special you want to be a part of. I think that’s the exciting part for me, is just knowing the intentions. The people they’re bringing in, the people they have, the character, and what they’re building around is obviously very exciting for a player like myself.”
As for where the Coyotes will look to utilize him, Durzi is ready to take on any role head coach André Tourigny needs of him. “Part of being a good player, and part of being a good teammate, is being adaptable to any situation,” Durzi said. “At the end of the day, you need a team that meshes well together, and you want to be a player that can do that for the team. My role is not really up to me; all I can do is play to the best of my abilities. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity they want to give me, and I’m ready to play that role.”
The Coyotes have themselves a diamond in the rough with the Ontario, Canada native. His defensive positioning needs some work, but nevertheless, general manager Bill Armstrong acquired himself a very promising player that can take the next step of his career in Arizona. Along with Dumba and the rest of the team’s offseason acquisitions, the Coyotes have made strides in turning their defensive core around, but how they mesh and play together remains to be seen.