Gerlach happy to shift focus back to WHL
He may have gone undrafted but Max Gerlach certainly made the most of his offseason.
The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers sniper returned the Gas City after taking part in training camp with the Arizona Coyotes — capping off a summer filled with milestone moments.
“It’s definitely been hectic. When I finally got onto the last plane (Wednesday) — I had to get on three different planes — I was finally like, ‘OK, I can 100 per cent focus on this,’” said Gerlach, who competed at the IIHF World Junior Summer Showcase as one of just two WHL players on Team USA, as well as joining the Coyotes for two camps. “I gained a lot of confidence from the (Summer Showcase) as well as my time at development camp and at this camp. Now I finally get to be done with that and I’m here for the rest of the season.”
Gerlach added fall training camp featured a very steep incline in competition from July’s development camp, which allowed him some important insight regarding the areas of his game that require fine-tuning.
“The intensity definitely ramps up but it’s a lot of fun,” said Gerlach, adding he needs to improve on his strength above all else. “They’re grown men so they’re really strong and I’ve got to be able to withstand some of that and be more slippery in the corners. I’ve got to keep my feet moving at all times and be comfortable with the puck. I think the best players are comfortable in all situations and that’s something I’ll have to continue to work on here.”
Competing alongside rising talent like Christian Fischer, Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller at the Prospect Showcase in San Jose, Gerlach says he was able to see he where sits among some of Arizona’s top-tier prospects, and it hasn’t diminished his confidence.
“It was really exciting to see where I stand against those guys,” said Gerlach, who recorded 34 goals and 28 assists with Medicine Hat last season, and stands poised to fill an even bigger role with the club this season. “It was a lot of fun and a great learning curve.”
While he was released from the team prior to its transition into main camp and pre-season competition, Gerlach was left feeling confident about his potential future with the Coyotes following an exit interview with general manager John Chayka and assistant general managers Steve Sullivan and Chris O’Hearn.
“When you’re talking to those guys instead of the development guys it’s obviously really exciting,” said Gerlach. “They’re going to keep a close eye on me and look at me as though I’m a draft pick of theirs. I’ll have someone watching me every night, which is exciting.”