Day 1 is in the books!
Good to have a close to usual development camp back at Toyota Sports Performance Center. The Kings prospects hit the ice for Day 1 today, the first of five days this week in El Segundo, with a wide variety of status, experience levels and ages on the ice. Ranging from the newest drafted Kings in 2022 all the way up to players who spent the entirety of their 2021-22 seasons at the NHL level, both young and “old” skated together in a pair of sessions earlier today.
The first session consisted of position-based drills, starting with the forwards in the morning, moving into the defensemen and finishing with a full-group scrimmage in the afternoon. All skaters appeared to be present with the exception of forward Alex Turcotte, who did not pass his physical on Sunday and is not cleared to participate in on-ice sessions at this time. Will see if that situation progresses or changes at all throughout the week.
With that in mind, a few notes from today’s events.
Brandt Clarke impressed again at his second development camp, after he made his debut a season ago. The eighth-overall pick in the 2021 draft looked and sounded ready for a competitive camp.
“It’s been great,” Clarke said. “The competition level is really high out here, it’s been lots of fun. They brought all the guys from the past drafts. The intensity’s really high, we all want to make a good impression on the people upstairs”
Clarke set up Alex Laferriere for a goal during the afternoon scrimmage but knows he must show consistent effort to secure a roster spot in the fall. For a player like Clarke, an event like this is a first impression heading into training camp in the fall.
Being a 19-year-old player, Clarke is not eligible to play in the AHL, so he’ll be playing his hockey at either the NHL or OHL level come October. Being the ninth-best defenseman isn’t enough, so he’s taking feedback and advice from coaches and development staff to heart.
“Trent’s been talking to me, and all the defensive player development guys have been talking to me, they know I can have the offensive flair, they know I can think the game at that level,” he said. “It’s just being sound every shift in the D zone. Boxing guys out, playing good on the walls, getting pucks out just stuff like that they want me to hone that in. A big word we use around here is trust, they want to be able to trust me with the puck on my stick and without the puck on my stick. So that’s what I’m trying to build in their eyes this week.”
To build that trust and mold Clarke into the type of player they hope he can be, the Kings staff has shared a video of former NHLers with the young blueliner. Clarke mentioned a former Todd McLellan-coached defenseman as one of the players he was shown, giving him feedback on how he can potentially thrive in McLellan’s system.
“We watched a lot of Dan Boyle videos,” he added. “When he ran the powerplay in San Jose which was cool, he moves pretty well.”
Clarke can also see a learning opportunity from other defensemen currently skating alongside him at development camp.
He pointed to Tobias Bjornfot, a fellow first-round selection, as a player he’s looking at. Bjornfot has played NHL games in each of the last three seasons and that season stood out today, in Clarke’s mind. That’s a leader to follow this week and a standard to build towards.
“You can tell they’re more poised back there,” he said. “Bjornfot has played over 100 games in the NHL. That’s recognizable. He’s just poised at the blueline, thinks the game well, doesn’t give up when someone’s coming in on him with speed. That’s the level I want to get to.”
New Jack City
Six of the LA Kings seven 2022 Draft picks made their LA debut on Monday, including second-round pick Jack Hughes. Hughes, the 51st overall selection in last week’s draft, opened the scoring during the afternoon scrimmage and looked confident in his first action as a member of the LA Kings.
The 6-0 forward joins the Kings organization after he was the youngest player on the Northeastern Huskies (NCAA) during the 2021-22 season. He was immediately impressed by the speed on display at camp.
“The speed here is… everyone’s fast,” he said. “It’s definitely a bit of a step up. It was tough especially in the scrimmage a couple of us forwards had to keep up a little bit.”
Despite the speed adjustment, Hughes opened the scoring during the afternoon scrimmage session, as he capitalized on a chance created by Taylor Ward. Not a bad introduction to the organization.
While Jack was born in Massachusetts, his father Kent is a Montreal native and current GM of the Canadiens, and the NHL Draft was an opportunity to catch up with friends and family.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said of the draft-day experience. “I had a lot of friends there, both my parents grew up there, so I got to see a lot of family and just enjoyed the whole weekend.”
TOYOTA SCRIMMAGE PERFORMANCE CENTER
The final on-ice activity on the first day of the development camp was a high-paced scrimmage featuring all the players from both morning sessions and was broken up into the following teams. As noted above, Alex Turcotte was a non-participant on Day 1.
Forwards: Byfield, Fagemo, Lee, Connors, Wright, Sillinger, Rossmy, Emerson
Defense: Bjornfot, Meehan, Booth, Sparkes, Inamoto, Kosior, Blake
Forwards: Kaliyev, Pinelli, Helenius, Hughes, Laferriere, Jamsen, Ward, Stefan
Defense: Clarke, Grans, Spence, Nousianen, Doyle, Geile
While the score wasn’t displayed, by my count the final tally was 3-0 for Team White with goals coming from Jack Hughes, Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Laferriere.
The prospects are set to hit the ice again for Day 2 tomorrow morning. The order will be reversed, with the defensemen on the ice at 10:15, followed by the forwards at 11:15. All participants will return for the scrimmage at 3:00 PM. For the full week’s schedule, see our initial post here.
Until tomorrow, Insiders!