Dwight King, called up from Manchester of the AHL today, is expected to make his NHL debut for the Kings tomorrow against Columbus. King, 21, was a fourth-round pick of the Kings in 2007 and, in 16 games with the Monarchs this season, ranked second on the team with six goals and 11 points. King will wear No. 74 with the Kings.
King has had a strong rise over the past 12 months. He finished his junior career in Lethbridge in 2008-09 and was assigned to Ontario of the ECHL at the start of last season. King was then promoted to Manchester and had 10 goals and 16 assists in 52 games with the Monarchs. King is listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, and after practice today, Dean Lombardi and Terry Murray talked about King’s development…
LOMBARDI: “He started in the East Coast league and worked himself up to the top line in Manchester last year. He had a good playoffs and he had a good (training) camp too. He’s always been a big, talented guy. You’re talking about a guy who was the No. 3 pick in the junior draft, so obviously he has talent. But like a lot of young players, he’s had to learn how to compete. That’s gotten better, but that’s going to be the challenge for him.”
Question: What’s the most important part of his development right now?
LOMBARDI: “Focus, and competing every shift. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s got talent. Of course he’s got to get better in all those areas, but that’s there. In terms of getting where he needs to go, it’s going to come down to competing. It’s the same with a lot of guys. (Trevor) Lewis has had to learn, and you see him getting better all the time. It’s probably a little early. Ideally, I don’t like to bring kids along (this quick), but with Parse out now, we need someone on the wing spot. Otherwise, you would see Loktionov here, but I think, ideally, he’s a center. We tried him on the wing.”
And Murray’s thoughts, starting with the decision to put King on a line with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds…
MURRAY: “That is the thought. I talked to the coaching staff down in Manchester today, and they obviously like a lot of the things he’s been doing. They feel he’s a very consistent player for them, and I feel that with what we saw in training camp, and over the last couple years, that that would be a good place for him to start, playing with Handzus, who is a very intelligent player and can read off him. At the same time, they should be able to make some pretty good plays. I liked the offensive part of King’s game when we saw him in the exhibition games.”
Question: He’s a big-bodied guy, right?
MURRAY: “Very big body. Real wide man. He establishes position in front of the net. He has good hands. He has very good awareness, can make plays. On the other side of the puck, his reads are becoming more consistent. We’ll push his pace. That’s the one area of the game we want to see be better, pushing the overall intensity and pace of his game.”
Question: Has he been playing a top-line role for Manchester?
MURRAY: “He’s been one of their better players down there, throughout the early part of the season, maybe their most consistent forward. Playing in all situations, both special teams, one of the top lines and making a difference in games.”