It’s no mystery one of the factors that drew new head coach Rick Tocchet to the Arizona Coyotes was the promise of the club’s young core.
With intriguing pieces like Max Domi (22 years old), Christian Dvorak (21), Brendan Perlini (21), Dylan Strome (20), Clayton Keller (19) and Jakob Chychrun (19), the Coyotes have plenty for the new coaching staff to work with.
And it seems that particular opportunity may have been the game-changer in landing the three-time Stanley Cup champion coach.
“I like the young kids,” Tocchet told NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman on Saturday. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the older guys too. But it’s really nice to be able to mold a team.
“You look at some of the great (recent) teams, the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, they had a young nucleus and they molded these guys. They stuck with the process. Everybody always says that but I think it’s important as an organization that you stick with the process.”
After five straight seasons of missing the post-season, the Coyotes faithful are likely getting antsy for that process to pay off. But from what Tocchet’s seen so far, it seems the club’s youth has the tools to take the next step.
“I want to help their process to becoming great NHL players,” Tocchet said. “When I see the enthusiasm of those guys, watching video of those guys, meeting some of them, these guys are sponges. … We want them, when they come to the rink, to act, play like pros. That’s something the coaching staff really has to preach and pass that on to these young kids.”
The younger Coyotes should have a few reliable vets to learn from as well, as general manager John Chayka added pivot Derek Stepan and defender Niklas Hjalmarsson this summer, the pair boasting a combined 15 seasons in the big leagues.
“These guys are like an extension of the staff a little bit,” Tocchet said of the veteran additions. “We don’t have a lot of older guys on the team. I don’t want them to put on too much pressure that they have to lead all the time, but what I like about talking to those guys is they’re excited about being leaders on this hockey club.”