The Arizona Coyotes are set to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena, where they’ll get a front-row seat to the Jakub Voracek show.
The 25-year-old right wing currently sits atop the table of points leaders in the NHL, where fans are used to seeing the likes of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin and other superstars.
Opposing Voracek, the Coyotes, meanwhile, lack a top-80 points man, having struggled to score all season long, averaging the third-fewest goals of all teams in the league.
Needless to say, Coyotes general manager Don Maloney and the entire organization, along with their fans, long for a player like Voracek — or his teammate, Claude Giroux, who is tied for third in total points in the NHL this season.
While Maloney has made attempts at acquiring such an offensive spark in the past — whether trading for Wojtek Wolski in 2010 or with the free agent signing of Mike Ribeiro before the 2013-14 season and then Sam Gagner last offseason — the moves rarely seem to pan out the way the organization or fan base hoped.
Offensive superstars are almost always homegrown in the NHL. And Maloney’s very own Coyotes may have just that kind of skater coming down the pike in 2013 draft selection Max Domi.
“I know we’re having a tough year this year,” the GM told Doug and Wolf on Tuesday. “Every Coyotes fan knows we’re struggling to score, struggling to create some offense. And one thing Max brings when he comes to the table is speed and quickness and offensive talent.”
Though traditionally wary of over-hyping his young players, Maloney had a tough time resisting mention of Domi’s recent exploits while on air with the show Tuesday.
“Max has had a terrific season,” he explained. “He plays for London in the Ontario Hockey League, was a star for Team Canada at the World Junior over the holidays and he’s come back and done everything we expected and more.”
Domi, 19, has accrued 66 points — 20 goals and 46 assists — in 35 games for the London Knights this season. The center is second on his squad in points per game, with 1.89. And while playing for his country at the World Junior Championship weeks ago, Domi piled up 10 points in seven games.
The Winnipeg native recently took the hockey-sanctioned corners of the internet by storm with a puck flip-slap goal for London. His GM says it’s just that type of play which demonstrates Domi’s rare instincts and creativity on the ice.
Maloney said Domi’s head-turning season has come, in part, as a result of an organizational philosophy which prizes ice time over divisional assignment.
“It’s a really good example of being patient with your younger players, letting them grow at their own pace,” he explained.
“We’re obviously in the background; Steve Sullivan is our development coach (and) he’s helped Max along the way. But, all in all, we’re really excited about Max. He has front line ability.”
And maybe — just maybe — the Coyotes will get the chance to see a dynamic offensive talent in a red sweater later this season at Gila River Arena.
Maloney provided the tease.
“Depending on how his season progresses — if London will be a playoff team in the OHL — if they were to lose out relatively early, there’s a potential even to bring him to Arizona for at least a cup of coffee at the end of the year,” he said.