180938747NG023_COYOTES_KINGS.JPGValentin Zykov’s 40-goal, 75-point 17-year-old season with the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar left a major question heading into his sophomore major junior season.

What could he possibly do to top that?

“Just try to help my team win,” he said. “It’s not always points, it’s not always goals. Just be better on the ice than the opponent.”

For virtually all nights, he was. And if the statistics don’t necessarily jump off the page – he had a fine regular season with 23 goals and 63 points in 53 games – to the same degree as his rookie season, he improved in many facets and played on a Drakkar team that advanced to Game 7 of the QMJHL Championship before losing to Val d’Or.

“No one gave us a road to the final that was easy,” Zykov said. “Still, it’s like a big accomplishment. Yeah, of course we expected a different result, but it just happened.”

He also appeared in the World Junior Championships as an 18-year-old, even though he didn’t earn a regular shift and was held without a point during Russia’s seven games.

“I was happy just to go there,” he said. “It’s…the best tournaments for guys under 20. It was a good experience, even though I didn’t have a lot of ice time.”

Having returned to Southern California for his second Development Camp, he has been instructed on the ice by Nelson Emerson, Mike O’Connell, Glen Murray, Mike Donnelly, Kim Dillabaugh and Manchester coaches Mike Stothers and Chris Hajt.

The key for this week is development and not necessarily evaluation, though Donnelly said that he sees improvement in the forward’s game between the two camps.

“Yeah, I do,” Donnelly said. “I really believe his work ethic is really solid. The thing is, what we’re doing, it’s not a lot of game situation stuff. It’s more of a teaching environment. So when I’m looking at the kids, I’m kind of evaluating what I can do to make them better. So I’m kind of looking at things differently than what you would do if there was a game situation and stuff like that. We’re trying to instill good habits into him. We’re happy with his progression and we’ll keep getting him better.”

The areas where Zykov improved over the past season revolved around his play in his own end of the ice – and the general maturation undertaken by players still in their teenage years.

“Probably I was better defensively. I just improved my game in the defensive zone,” he said.

“Any season doesn’t just pass through. You always learn something new about yourself.”

Considering 22-year-old Tyler Toffoli (47th overall, 2010) and 21-year-old Tanner Pearson (30th overall, 2012) earned regular minutes during the run to the Stanley Cup this spring, a good example has been set of what Zykov (37th overall, 2013) is capable of accomplishing should skill, development and work ethic align in the path towards reaching the highest level in the sport.

“You look on defense or forwards – and our job is to get these kids as NHL-ready as we can,” Donnelly said. “We know what our job is. We have an excellent staff with Mike O’Connell, Nelson Emerson and Glen Murray. We know what our job is, and we have to do whatever we can to try to help these kids get ready in case they’re needed on the big club, or when they’re ready to step in and play.”

Rules for Blog Commenting
  • - No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • - Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other commenters, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • - Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • - Please do not discuss, or post links to, websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • - Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.
Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

VIEW ALEC MARTINEZ POSTS
Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

VIEW ANZE KOPITAR POSTS
Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

VIEW DREW DOUGHTY POSTS
Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
VIEW TYLER TOFFOLI POSTS

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

VIEW JEFF CARTER POSTS
Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

VIEW JONATHAN QUICK POSTS