On a team expected to feature a mix of veterans and prospects, forward Andy Miele lies somewhere in the middle.
The 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey's top Division I player while with Miami University, Miele was signed as a free agent and has put up solid numbers with the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland. But in eight NHL games, including one last season, he has not scored a point.
His knack for creating offense is well established. In his first pro season with Portland, Miele led the Pirates in assists (38) and points (54). He did the same last season, although his totals in each category decreased slightly (34, 53).
Now the undersized playmaker (5-foot-9, 175) is looking to finally stick in the NHL.
"I was happy with the way I played [last season]," Miele told the Coyotes website during rookie camp. "I improved in everything that they wanted me to improve in. Just the experience of another year is great, and coming into camp this year it will make a huge difference."
Early in training camp, Miele definitely made his case for a full-time roster spot. In his first preseason game, a 5-1 split-squad win against the Los Angeles Kings, Miele had two assists on a line with Brandon Yip and Guillaume Latendresse, veterans competing for roster spots. Following the game, Head Coach Dave Tippett voiced his satisfaction with the line's performance.
"It was a really hard-working game for them," Tippett said. "They went in there, and L.A. had a lot of their big guys in that game, and our guys played well."
Placed on a different line in his next preseason game, a 6-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Miele set up Latendresse's second-period goal that got the Coyotes on the board. But that play was undermined by three Anaheim goals when Miele was on the ice.
The Coyotes' annual Red-White intrasquad scrimmage may have served Miele well in his quest to make the opening-night roster. In an event that raised more than $165,000 for the families of the 19 firefighters killed in Yarnell, Ariz., Miele scored the winning goal in Team Red's 2-1 victory.
Miele may still be working on his all-round game, but his undeniable offensive skill could make him an asset on a club that is lacking in that department up front.
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