Coyotes’ Soderstrom, Hayton fighting for roster spots

Sep 13, 2019, 8:16 PM
The Arizona Coyotes 2018 and 2019 first-round draft picks Barrett Hayton (left) and Victor Soderstr...
The Arizona Coyotes 2018 and 2019 first-round draft picks Barrett Hayton (left) and Victor Soderstrom (right) anchor the Coyotes farm system. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Last season, a young Arizona Coyotes team came within four points of a playoff berth, finishing just behind the Colorado Avalanche. With several prospects waiting in the wings, the organization is about to get even younger.

If the young players who represented the Coyotes in the Anaheim Rookie Faceoff this week are any indication of what’s to come, the club might be getting better than expected.

The tournament gave the NHL a glimpse at several of the most promising prospects in the Coyotes’ organization. Two of them, Victor Soderstrom, who was the 11th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Barrett Hayton, the fifth pick in 2018, offer the most promise and could factor into the team’s 2019-20 season.

For the two, rookie camp and the tournament are precursors to a much bigger test — the Coyotes veterans’ training camp, which opens Friday. The puck drops on the regular season Oct. 3rd in Anaheim.

Soderstrom and Hayton made their presence known during rookie camp and at the Rookie Faceoff, with Hayton tallying a goal and an assist in his two games played.

“My biggest thing is just (to) make an impact. Obviously, rookie camp’s a start of the process for main camp, so I think I’m getting off and leaving a good first impression and playing well,” Hayton said.

For Hayton, this training camp presents a second opportunity to make the team after he spent all of last season with the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Hayton is hoping to make a bigger impact in his second go around at camp with a season within the organization under his belt.

“I just know what to expect,” he said. “Obviously, going into last year, my first camp, there’s no experience really like that. I think being around here last year and being able to stay around for as long as I did, I learned a ton. So I think, moving to this year, I know what to expect and I’m really prepared.”

Soderstrom is the first Swedish player that the Coyotes have taken in the first round since the team selected their current captain, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Naturally, the two have been compared since the team drafted Soderstrom. Ekman-Larsson has taken it upon himself to make sure his countryman feels welcome in Arizona.

“When I came here, he offered me to stay with him in his house,” Soderstrom said. “He’s a really good guy. I didn’t know him before, but you can really understand why he’s the captain of an NHL team.”

Soderstrom played his entire junior career on an Olympic-sized rink in Sweden, which is more than 13 feet wider than an NHL rink. Even with the amount of talent the Coyotes see in him, Soderstrom has to prove he can adjust to the smaller ice and style of play in North American.

“The game’s faster and it’s a lot more (of a) transitioning game,” Soderstrom said. “It’s a little bit more aggressive. Forwards go more to the net and they drive harder to the net. It’s a little bit of a big difference but… I’ve got a feel for it, so I think now it’s all good.”

A spot with the club is not guaranteed for Hayton and Soderstrom despite their status as two of the organization’s top prospects. With only 23 roster spaces available, and most of them already filled, it will be a challenge for the two rookies to break into the squad.

“I think the intensity is always extremely high,” Hayton said. “Everyone’s pushing, everyone wants to get a job and everyone has their goals. No matter what camp it’s been, its high-paced, its high-intensity and everyone really wants it.”

Penguin Air
Penguin Air

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.
1 year ago
Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...
Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.
2 years ago
(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...
Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.
2 years ago
New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...
Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.
2 years ago
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...
Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.
2 years ago
Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...
Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.
2 years ago
Coyotes’ Soderstrom, Hayton fighting for roster spots