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Barrett Hayton, others impress in Coyotes’ preseason win

Barrett Hayton #29 of the Arizona Coyotes advances the puck up ice against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of an NHL preseason game at Gila River Arena on September 21, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes have only a few roster spots to fill. The majority of their 23-man roster this year will be filled by players who were NHL regulars on the team last year.

But there’s at least a couple spots in the forward lineup up for grabs, and perhaps one will be taken by last year’s fifth overall pick, Barrett Hayton. On Saturday, the Coyotes played a preseason game at home against the Anaheim Ducks, winning in a shootout, 4-3. Hayton played 17:48 and recorded an assist playing on a line with Derek Stepan and Clayton Keller.

“I’ve felt good,” Hayton said of his training camp thus far. “I think overall, I think I’ve learned a lot. I feel comfortable. I think I’m generating plays. I feel like I’ve gotten better. I’ve learned from little mistakes and I’ve had a lot of help from the guys, so yeah, I feel good.”

Hayton finished Saturday with one assist and three shots on goal. He saw time on both the power play and penalty kill, and now has two assists in three preseason games.

“I thought Barrett, [it] was one of his better games this camp,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I thought he looked like sticky on the puck and all this stuff. And it’s his third game now. He’s in shape and he’s playing well. I give him a lot of credit tonight.”

Hayton played junior last year with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

“You go from junior to the NHL, it’s a big step,” Tocchet said. “But I think he’s the type of guy that, the way he’s worked out, the way he watches video, the way he absorbs things — hockey IQ is, that’s why we drafted him. He can catch up fairly quick. So he’s done a nice job. A long way to go, but I do like where he’s chipping away.”

Tocchet also said he liked the line of Michael Chaput, Michael Bunting and Lane Pederson (Bunting scored the first Coyotes goal Saturday). Carl Soderberg, who scored on Hayton’s assist, impressed Tocchet as well.

OLIVER RETURNS

Oliver Ekman-Larsson was described as “day-to-day” early in training camp after undergoing a minor procedure in the offseason. He played in Saturday night’s game and recorded two assists with 26:37 time on ice.

KELLER SCORES

Keller scored on Saturday and now has two goals in two preseason games. Earlier this month, he signed an eight-year extension worth a reported average annual value of $7.15 million after two full NHL seasons that saw him score a combined 37 goals.

“I really like Keller’s camp so far. He looks really good out there,” Tocchet said. “He’s got a good attitude coming into camp and he’s been one of our better players just throughout the camp.

“Just doing the little things, stuff that we asked him to do at our year-end meeting. He worked on his shot, his shot is 50% better. Came in in really good shape, and he’s doing the little things. He’s getting inside. So I really like his game.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Saturday saw a power play unit that included Nick Schmaltz, Derek Stepan, Keller, Conor Garland and Ekman-Larsson. Keep in mind, though, that Phil Kessel did not play.

Soderberg got time on the power play as well as the penalty kill, the latter of which was on a unit that included Nik Hjalmarsson, Alex Goligoski and Michael Grabner.

ROSTER CUTS

The Coyotes sent 11 players to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL on Saturday: forwards Jeremy Gregoire, Jonathon Martin, Keeghan Howdeshell, Giovanni Fiore, Kelly Klima, Nate Schnarr; defensemen Jalen Smereck, Dane Birks; goaltenders Merrick Madsen, Erik Kallgren.

The roster now stands at 41.

LOS YOTES

The Coyotes announced Thursday the creation of three new social media accounts, all in Spanish: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The move comes not long after the change in ownership, in which Alex Meruelo became the first Hispanic majority owner in the NHL.

“This is just the first step in our efforts to grow the game and reach the Latino market,” team president and CEO Ahron Cohen said in a press release.

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