GLENDALE, Ariz. — Christian Fischer brought a singular focus to his second Coyotes training camp on Thursday.
“I’m going to come in here and just try to dominate,” he said. “This is probably the first time [coach Rick Tocchet] has seen any of us live. You can never make a first impression twice.”
Fischer made a strong impression on the Arizona hockey community in his first year of professional hockey last season. In 57 games with the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate, he had 20 goals and 47 points and he was named to the AHL All-Star team.
In seven games with the Coyotes, he had three goals in his first four games.
“He had a terrific season,” Roadrunners general manager Steve Sullivan said. “He did all the things we asked him to do. He’s got a great future.”
Coming off two seasons with the United States National U18 team and one season with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, Fischer knew he wanted to turn pro last year and exit the OHL.
“It was kind of a unique situation getting drafted out of the U.S. program but I was pretty confident at the end of training camp, even in preseason knowing I could compete with these NHL players,” he said. “I didn’t even think it was a question to go back to junior and obviously it worked out pretty well.”
Fischer impressed the Coyotes in his NHL cameo. The only reason he didn’t play more games with them is that they didn’t want to burn the first year of his entry-level deal in a rebuilding year where four other rookies (Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini and Lawson Crouse) were already playing. Fischer was only 19. A year of seasoning in Tucson made sense and it helped validate his place in the professional game.
“I’m confident in what I can do,” he said. “I think last year I showed that briefly with my time up here and obviously my time in the AHL as well, but you’re not going to make the team off what you did last year so I just have to come in here and show the same things I did last year.”
Although he already had an NHL body last season, Fischer said he added between three and five pounds of muscle. He worked on his explosiveness in the gym and on the ice with Coyotes skating coach Dawn Braid.
“I’m already a big kid so it wasn’t really my focus to put on muscle, but I feel a lot faster on the ice,” he said. “Usually when you get heavier you’re slower, but with the power of [strength and conditioning coach] J.P. Major and working with Dawn Braid, I think it’s worked out awesome.”
The Coyotes have a need at right wing, with only Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder as roster locks. Arizona will likely move another player such as Jamie McGinn to right wing, but Fischer would be the only right-handed shot in the group.
Assuming Fischer makes the roster, general manager John Chayka said he would likely start in a bottom-six role, but the Coyotes see much more potential in him. He could become the latest in the franchise’s tradition of power forwards that also includes Keith Tkachuk and Shane Doan.
“He’s a natural leader with all kinds of great playing attributes,” Chayka said. “He’s a big, heavy, skilled body and real possession driver. The thing that gets lost about him is he doesn’t just get to the net and score a lot of goals in tight areas off good shots and rebounds and deflections, he also makes plays in tight quarters and that’s impressive for a guy his size.
“He’s just one of those guys with the right mentality who will get better and better.”
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