Thinning the Pack: Notable Arizona Preseason Cuts

The Arizona Coyotes made the decision Thursday to send prospect Max Domi back to his junior team, the OHL’s London Knights. Domi had been one of the most hyped prospects entering training camp and showed flashes of what he could bring to the lineup. The 19-year-old notched three assists and scored an incredible shootout goal during the Coyotes’ 5-4 split-squad victory over the Los Angeles Kings on September 22 in Glendale. Instead, the 12th-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft will spend another year in London, where he finished last season with 93 points.

Domi joins a list of players that Arizona has had to cut from the training camp roster prior to their opener on October 9. Here are some of the names that the Coyotes have trimmed during the preseason.

Lucas Lessio

The Coyotes also reassigned Lucas Lessio on Thursday. He made his NHL debut last season, but only played in Arizona’s first three games before being sent down to the AHL’s Portland Pirates. The 2011 second-round draft pick put up 29 goals and 54 points in 69 games with the Pirates in 2013-14. The experience from last year seemed to pay off for Lessio during preseason, as he had a goal and three assists. He also scored a goal during Arizona’s intra-squad game last weekend. If he can continue to produce in Portland, his second stint in the pros will be much longer than just a few games.

Henrik Samuelsson

Like Domi, Henrik Samuelsson made some noise during Arizona’s split-squad game against Los Angeles. The 20-year-old registered a goal and two assists during that contest before being reassigned to Portland on September 27. Samuelsson spent the last three years in Edmonton with the WHL’s Oil Kings, where he recorded 35 goals and 95 points last season. The Coyotes hope that Portland will be the next step in Samuelsson’s progress towards the pros.

On the Bubble

As preseason comes to a close, there are still a few hopefuls looking to make the last spots on the roster. One newcomer that has attracted attention is forward Justin Hodgman. Hodgman spent the last three years playing in Europe, including two seasons in the KHL, before signing with Arizona in the offseason. The 26-year-old was the leading scorer for the Coyotes during the preseason with four goals and an assist. It will be interesting to see whether Hodgman’s efforts in the past two weeks will be enough to give him a chance to play in the NHL.

Arizona concluded their preseason action on Friday in a 3-1 loss to the Sharks at Gila River Arena. With only a few days separating the Coyotes from their first game of the 2014-15 season, the team still has some difficult decisions to make for their opening night roster. Arizona fans hope that the coaching staff and front office, led by head coach Dave Tippett and general manager Don Maloney, will be able to find the right combination of players to bring another successful season to the desert.