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Coyotes notebook: Alex Galchenyuk out, roster getting smaller

Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj (31) makes a pad save on a shot by Arizona Coyotes center Alex Galchenyuk (17) during the second period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes announced Tuesday that Alex Galchenyuk was “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury, less than a week after it was revealed that Galchenyuk had any injury at all. The following day, their head coach provided further insight as to where that matter stands and what its implications are.

A specific timeline, however, remains unavailable.

“I’m not a guy that you Google something and it’s like ‘Hey, it’s four to six weeks,’ or something,” he said, having noted the previous week that everyone can heal at a different pace. “Right now, it’s a week-to-week thing. Alex is a strong guy and he’s doing rehab right now and we’ll hopefully get him back when we get him back.”

Galchenyuk, an important offseason acquisition for the Coyotes who was expected to play center, now joins fellow Coyotes center Christian Dvorak as injured forwards. That’s forcing Tocchet to find other answers for that position.

“I’ve got a couple options: Option 1 and Option 2. There’s an Option 3, too, and I hope I don’t have to get to Option 3,” he said.

Centers Derek Stepan, Brad Richardson and Dylan Strome remain healthy, while Clayton Keller, Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Cousins are options on the wing who can “pinch hit” at center, as Tocchet described it. Hinstroza and Keller have both seen time at the center position this preseason.

Still, the loss of Galchenyuk for the time being hurts the depth of the lineup, which was likely to boast Stepan, Galchenyuk and Dvorak as its first three centers. Now, two of those players are missing.

“You saw [Galchenyuk] the other night when he scored two goals, he’s got that shot — a deadly shot,” Tocchet said, referring to the team’s first preseason home game against Los Angeles. “He’s a threat. so obviously that’s something you’re going to miss in your lineup, but also we overlook [Dvorak] — Dvo’ is a 200-foot, takes-draws centerman who came on last year, too. So those are two losses.”

Dvorak has scored two goals in each of his two NHL seasons to this point, while Galchenyuk is a former 30-goal scorer who has scored at least 17 times in each of the last four years.

Tocchet said Dvorak is progressing well, will likely have another test next week and, if all goes well, could begin the return to practice.

“But like I said, we’ve got some guys here that want to play in the NHL and they’re going to have a chance to prove it,” Tocchet said. “It will be interesting how that works out. And then the other guys will pull the rope. Our D’s got to be stronger and [goalie Antti Raanta] and the wingers have got to help out a little bit more. So everybody’s got to help out until some of the injured guys come back. And you’ve got [defenseman Jakob Chychrun (lower-body)] coming back, too.”

THE ROSTER

The Coyotes have two preseason games remaining, both in Western Canada against the Oilers and Canucks, respectively. Tocchet said Wednesday the team would take one extra forward and two extra defensemen on the trip, meaning there would be a group of 23 players — a full NHL roster — traveling to Canada.

There are 31 players left on the Coyotes’ training camp roster, but if you take the injured Coyotes out of the picture, there are even fewer bodies still that need to be cut before the team has its opening night roster. Conor Garland, David Ullstrom, Mario Kempe, Laurent Dauphin and Trevor Murphy are some of the players competing for final spots.

Tocchet had said last week he wanted to get a “full team” together for these final two preseason games, and said as much again on Wednesday.

“There’s two more games left, obviously. I want to get our team together,” he said. “It’s not half the team here or there, now you want to play your team and get ramped up. And you can still experiment, but we’re not looking for opening night against Dallas — we’re looking about tomorrow’s game.

“I told the players, invest in today. Today, we had a good practice, tomorrow’s a game, invest in that game. Dallas will happen, with the opening everyone’s excited, but don’t try to skip these next five, six, seven days. We’ve got a lot of work to do still.”

Arizona plays the Edmonton Oilers at their place on Thursday night at 6 p.m., then goes to Kelowna to play the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Watch for what the lineups are in those games.

ON DYLAN STROME

One player who could potentially benefit from the injuries at the center position would be Dylan Strome, the oft-discussed first-round pick of 2015 who has had the misfortune of being compared to Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the two players selected in front of him.

While those two players have become established stars in the NHL, the 21-year-old Strome has played 28 games over two seasons to this point.

“Dylan’s still trying to find his way, and he’s been good sometimes and he’s got to get a little bit more consistent,” Tocchet told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Wednesday. “But there’s jobs open in that situation. It’s just tough when you get hit hard at one position.”


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