For being two young players, Dwight King (left) and Jordan Nolan (right) have quite a shared history. They’re both 22 years old, they’ve been teammates — and, recently, linemates — for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs for the past two seasons, they share a house with defenseman Jake Muzzin and they’ve also alums of the ECHL’s Ontario Reign. The Kings, no doubt, hope that familiarity counts for something at the NHL level. King and Nolan were both called up today and made the drive south to Long Island.
This season, King has been tied for second on the Monarchs in points, with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 50 games. Nolan has nine goals and 13 assists in 40 games. Neither winger has a dynamic offensive history, but Kings management members have been increasingly impressed with the players’ puck skills this season, so there would seem to be some potential there. After practice today, Nolan and King talked about joining the Kings…
Question: Can you talk about your game, and what you’ve been trying to work on?
NOLAN: “In the last year, I’ve been trying to find my game. The coach down there, Mark Morris, he’s kind of brought me along nice. I’m just trying to keep things simple. I play the penalty kill down there, play the power play, and just try to bring a physical presence. I’ll stand up for a teammate and score the odd goal. I just try to work my hardest and keep things simple for the team.’’
Question: Where have you primarily been playing?
NOLAN: “I kind of played left wing last year, and this year they kind of rotated me to right wing. So I’ve been playing my off-wing these days, and I think I’m going to be playing my off-wing here. So I’m just trying to get used to that. It’s a little different, coming down, but I’ve adjusted well to it, so hopefully it works out.’’
Question: Have you had regular linemmates down there?
NOLAN: “At the start of the year, we had a pretty good line. I was playing with Czarnik for a bit. I had a little injury so I was out for a couple weeks, and I’ve recently been playing with Dwight and Linden Vey.’’
Question: Management members have talked about your improved offensive skills, puck-handling skills. Is there anything there, in particular, that you’ve been working on?
NOLAN: “We do a lot of work in the offseason, with different stick-handling techniques. I’ve been working on those things, and just trying to be more comfortable with the puck. Last year was kind of my first year trying to find my way, and get a little more ice time and a little more confidence. Just driving wide and making a quick play and taking it to the net, stuff like that.’’
And here are Nolan’s thoughts, starting with a self-assessment of his game over the past couple years…
KING: “It’s been good. At first, turning pro was a little bit of an adjustment for myself, but over the last two-and-a-half seasons, I feel like I’ve made steps in my development. Last year I got a little tease of this league, so I went back to Manchester and just kind of worked on being competitive for a full game. That’s pretty much the biggest thing. Me keeping my feet moving and trying to win battles was my key opponent going into this season.’’
Question: You played six games in the NHL last season. What did you take from that experience?
KING: “You’re a little nervous when you first get called up, and you don’t know what the league is all about, but it’s good to see that it’s still hockey. You come up and you hear all the hype and everything, but when you get here, you just have to focus on what you bring to a team. I think that’s the biggest thing, this time around. I know what I need to do to try to help the team win, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.’’
Question: You stuck around in training camp for a long time before this season. Did you take some positives out of that?
KING: “Obviously you would like to make it right out of camp, but to hang around that long and have the opportunity to play that many exhibition games and get good reviews in camp. You go back to Manch and know if you work hard, this day eventually would come. So it was good. It was a good way to start the season, and now here I am.’’