The Arizona Coyotes seem to have their seven-man defensive lineup set, but could standout D-man Kyle Capobianco be able to be called up or even fill in this season?
It seems like a possibility even though Jakob Chychrun's recovery from his second knee injury requiring ACL surgery has progressed ahead of schedule.
With the acquisition of Jordan Oesterle from the Chicago Blackhawks trade which included Vinnie Hinostroza, if Chychrun isn't ready Oesterle could move up to the #6 D-man spot leaving an opening.
Now, Capobianco isn't the only player vying for that opening. Trevor Murphy and Dakota Mermis as well as Russian Ilya Lyubushkin and Robbie Russo may well be in the fight for that extra spot if it becomes available.
The 6'1", 196lb Mississauga, ON, CAN defenseman has shown well playing in the Coyotes' AHL affiliate Tucson Roadrunners last season with two goals, 28 assists in 49 games. He also has one NHL game under his belt when he appeared in a Coyotes' game without registering a point.
He was the 63rd pick of Arizona back in the 2015 draft. He is described by eliteprospects.com: "He is a sound two way defenseman. He is a smooth skater, good passer and is a capable powerplay quarterback, but is also sound defensively, making the smart play often and shutting down the passing lanes."
How can Capobianco make the Coyotes a better team?
He is a good two-way defenseman who can run the powerplay and that's always an asset any team can use. With the speed of the Coyotes' forwards he needs to use his skating and passing skills to impress the team. If injuries happen during the season it's a good opportunity for Kyle to show what he can do at the NHL level.
"Everyone's excited here," Capobianco said of the rookie camp. " The last couple years a guy from camp usually make the team. It's an exciting time and everyone's going full speed right now."
It's true that there has been a few first-year players who have been able to make the starting lineup out of training camp. Clayton Keller as a 19-year-old is a perfect example as he went on to lead the team in scoring last season with 65 points in his first full season.
Jakob Chychurn was also able to make the huge jump to the NHL after being drafted 16th overall in 2016. He is still just 20-years-old.
If Capobianco can make it to the Coyotes one way or another he needs to step up if he wants to compete with the other young players on this team or the entire league.
Chances of making the roster
Capobianco has the same chance as any other young player attempting to acquire a roster spot in this highly competitive league. He seems confident that he can play at the NHL level and will need to show that with his play in training camp.
Much depends on what happens when training camp begins September 14th. If Chychrun is okay and will start the season trying to crack into the blueline lineup won't be easy.
In the meantime he may very well start the season out in Tucson where the Roadrunners play a very similar fast style so he won't have much adjusting if he does get called up... and it's a two-hour drive up the I-10, so that's convenient.
Capobianco will progress nicely in Tucson and be ready in case the parent Coyotes give him a call. He certainly has a bright future with the Desert Dogs and has an excellent attitude about being responsible in his defensive game plan.
The way the roster is configured now it doesn't seem he stands much of a shot of making the team out of training camp, but that is yet to be determined,
If he relies on his abilities as a solid defenseman and can show the team he belongs on the Coyotes' roster the rest will take care of itself.
By next season, things could change and he may get his chance to shine in the desert.
For now, more seasoning in Tucson seems to be the best approach.
What do you think the chances are of Kyle Capobianco making the Coyotes' lineup out of training camp? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to give us a follow on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!