Moving on to the wingers, here’s what Ron Hextall said about a handful of the Manchester Monarchs’ wingers this season. Oscar Moller had 15 goals and 18 assists in 43 games. Bud Holloway had 19 goals and 28 assists in 75 games. Dwight King had 10 goals and 16 assists in 52 games. Kevin Westgarth had 11 goals and 14 assists in 76 games. Kyle Clifford didn’t join the Monarchs until his junior season ended (he had 28 goals and 29 assists in 58 games with Barrie) and had two assists in seven playoff games. Here are Hextall’s thoughts on those prospects…
HEXTALL: “Oscar was OK. We expect a little more production out of him. I think it’s a typical example of a guy who plays a year in the NHL, and then it’s hard to go down. Don’t get me wrong. He had a good attitude and he worked hard. We just didn’t see that little bit of desperation, I guess, in his game that he needs. I think, when it came down to the end of the playoffs, he and Lokti were similar, in terms of their lack of strength, in the time and space, wasn’t there. It became pretty evident that Oscar, along with Lokti, they’ve got to get stronger.
“Bud Holloway had a real good run in the playoffs. He’s come a long ways, from being sent to Ontario in the East Coast league last year and really going up this year and not only proving he belongs there but being a pretty good player there. He was an important player for us, in terms of scoring. There’s some things he’s got to work on. He’s got to become a little more of a straight-line player, instead of all the east-west stuff, cutting to the middle, trying to beat a defenseman and things, but overall I like his progression.
“Dwight King, he started out in Ontario and got called up. Quite frankly, the first couple weeks there, he didn’t really do a lot, but then I was there a couple months ago and he started to play really well. He’s a smart player. He makes the right plays. He’s a big, strong body and, talking to (coach) Mark Morris there, whatever line he was on — because he bounced around a little bit, with Zeiler and then with Westgarth for a while, and they were good, and then he went up with Lokti and Moller and they were good — it seemed like whatever line Kinger was on, the line started to get going. So he was an important part. He can play with good players, but he can also play the power game. He makes the good give-and-go plays.
“Westie really improved. He worked hard on his skating. Every time I was there, after practice and stuff he would take the time to work on his skating and improve it. He’s at the point now where his skating and his work ethic are up, and he’s making impact hits, which in that role is an important thing. In terms of the physical part, quite frankly he got a lot of space. There weren’t a lot of guys who wanted to go anywhere near him. He was making better decisions with the puck, getting pucks deep and getting pucks out of the zone, and knowing when to make plays and when not to make plays. He improved. Westie can still upgrade his level of conditioning, and that will be the biggest focus this summer for him, from our standpoint. He got hurt late in the season, so he was out for the last couple weeks and we missed him. We missed him against Hershey, his size and his presence. We had some guys taking some liberties who probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
“Clifford made a big impression. He played really well in the first couple games that I was there. He probably set expectations a little too high, but he played with Lokti and Moller, and he’s exactly what they need because they’re obviously not real big guys. So he was in there, digging pucks and getting pucks out to them and stuff. To come out of junior as an 18-year-old hockey player and be elevated to a top line, obviously the fit was there. He justified it. He didn’t start out there. He justified his spot there, in time. He’s just a big power forward. Guys are intimidated by him. He’s getting to the net, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what’s in his way, he’s going through it. He’s not going around it, he’s going through it, and he plays with the type of determination that we like to see. Again, he was a great fit for that team at that time.”