This could end up being quite the year for Max Domi.
Having started 2015 with a bang — winning a gold medal for Canada and Top Forward at the World Junior Championships — Domi could get his first taste of NHL action this spring, according to Coyotes GM Don Maloney.
“We’re really excited about Max. He has front line ability,” Maloney said, per Arizona Sports. “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.”
Domi, 19, was the Coyotes’ first-round pick (12th overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Many expected him to make the team out of training camp this fall — especially after Maloney alluded to a youth movement for this season — but the Coyotes didn’t want to rush Domi and sent him back to OHL London, where he’s put up dominant numbers: 20 goals and 66 points in just 35 games played.
The Coyotes also had little interest bringing Domi to the NHL level and putting him in a “learning” role in the club’s bottom-nine forward group, something Vancouver is currently doing with the ninth overall pick in the ’13 draft, Bo Horvat.
“Domi’s not going to be a bottom-line player for us,” Maloney told PHT in December. “We need him to be a top-six forward.
“We have lots of guys that can play the third or fourth line. Our problem is top one or two line guys, and that’s where we see Max in the future.”
London will almost certainly be going to the OHL playoffs, so Domi’s NHL debut will be decided on how far the Knights go. What happens in Arizona will also likely play a role; the Coyotes are highly unlikely to advance to the postseason and could be in fire-sale mode at the deadline — Antoine Vermette, who fills one of the top-two center roles Domi would play, is a popular name on the block — and unveiling the club’s most prized prospect could provide some excitement in what figures to be an otherwise dour second half of the season.