Vilardi "excited" to make professional debut, likely to be tomorrow with Reign - LA Kings Insider

Forward Gabe Vilardi practiced with the Ontario Reign in each of the last two days and is slated to make his professional debut tomorrow morning in Bakersfield against the Condors, a 10:30 a.m. puck drop for a school-day game.

Vilardi, currently with the Reign on a conditioning assignment from Los Angeles, skated on a line with forward Philippe Maillet and Zack Mitchell – the gray unit for those wondering. Ontario will play three games in a four-day span, beginning tomorrow in Bakersfield, followed by Friday in Stockton and Sunday at home against Tucson, with, per Jon’s understanding, Vilardi eligible to skate in each of the three tilts.

What is expected of Vilardi, or what he can bring to the table, is a bit of an unknown at this stage. While the 6-3 forward ranks as a top prospect in the Kings system, he has yet to play in a professional game, having been sidelined from game activity in the fall of 2018 dating back to rookie camp in September due to a recurring back injury.

“I don’t know what to expect because he’s been off for so long, but I’m not expecting miracles,” Ontario Reign Head Coach Mike Stothers said. “I’m anxious to see what the young man can do in game conditions, it’s been awhile for him. I just want him to play and get some experience, get his timing back. He’s just got to be part of the team, he doesn’t have to be anything special.”

Vilardi’s return has been highly awaited in the Kings’ sphere. The team’s first-round selection in 2017 has started both last and this season with Los Angeles in an injured capacity. The 19-year-old rookie collected 22 goals and 58 points from 38 games played last season in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs. Vilardi is over a point-per-game (157 points from 143 games played) in his OHL career and led his 2017 team, the Windsor Spitfires, with seven assists during the team’s Memorial Cup victory two seasons ago.

The Kingston, Ontario native resumed skating in an individual capacity last month, before he moved into full team practices with the Kings earlier this month, working himself back towards game action.

Gabe Vilardi on how desperate he is to get into a game
Yeah, I’m really excited. It’s tough skating by yourself for so long and with just practice it’s tough too. It’s really different than getting guys coming at you and you have to react and make plays. It’ll be fun. We’ll see what happens, hopefully I’m not too rusty and we’ll see how it goes.

On what he’s looking to do on the ice in his pro debut
I’m not thinking about it too much, just going out and playing like I’ve done my whole life. Whether it’s the pro game, the junior game or whatever it is, it’s still hockey, so I’m going to go out there and have fun and like I said, we’ll see, I can’t really tell you how it’s going to do.

On how he’s integrated in with the Reign through two days with the team
It’s never easy, coming in with a new team but obviously I know a lot of the guys but it’s still a new team. It’s the same as when I started practicing with the Kings guys, it’s the same kind of things, you’ve got to be adaptive and I’m just excited to play.

On looking forward to tomorrow and whether it feels like the culmination of a long road of work getting back into the lineup
It’s crazy, I’ve been here it feels like forever and I still haven’t played a game, so it’s going to be pretty fun but it’s just the beginning.

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.
Kurtis MacDermid

#56 | 6′ 5″ | 233 lb | Age: 23

Born: March 25, 1994
Birthplace: Sauble Beach, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

MacDermid was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on Sept. 12, 2012.
VIEW KURTIS MACDERMID POSTS

Michael Amadio

#52 | 6′ 1″ | 204 lb | Age: 21

Born: May 13, 1996
Birthplace: Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Amadio was selected by the Kings in the third round (90th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.
VIEW MICHAEL AMADIO POSTS

Alex Lintuniemi

#10 | 6′ 3″ | 214 lb | Age: 21

Born: DOB: 9/23/1995
Birthplace: HELSINKI, FINLAND
Position: D

Bio

Lintuniemi played in 27 games for the HIFK U18 team in Helsinki at 15-years-old, as well as seven games with the Finland U16 team. He made his professional hockey debut with the Monarchs in 2015, and has since begun playing for the Reign.
VIEW ALEX LINTUNIEMI POSTS

Brett Sutter

#07 | 6′ 0″ | 192 lb | Age: 29

Born: 6/2/1987
Birthplace: CALGARY, AB
Position: C

Bio

Drafted in 2005 by the Calgary Flames, Sutter was traded to the Reign in 2016. He is the son of LA Kings head couch Darryl Sutter, and the eighth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL.
VIEW BRETT SUTTER POSTS