Rookie camp opens; alignment and photos; insight from Mike Stothers - LA Kings Insider

INSIDERS. Rookie camp, ahoy. The entire rookie group took the ice in advance of 10:00 a.m. – shortly after the goalies were warmed up by Paul LaDue, Sean Walker and Matt Luff – and aligned as such:

Gray: Fagemo-Anderson-Dolan-Kupari
Yellow: Eyssimont-Thomas-Kaliyev
White: Sodergran-Lizotte-Yantsis
Purple: Morrison-Dudas-Bergh
Red: Rymsha, Garreffa

With nine defensemen, the pairs rotated. Also keep in mind that the lines and pairings shift from game to game. Today is September 6. Let’s keep rookie line queries to a minimum this time of the year, mmmkay? Anyway, this is clarified by Mike Stothers in a wonderful give-and-take with reporters at the bottom of the page.

I’ll also have more later today on defenseman Billy Constantinou, who, if you recall LAKI reports at development camp, is among the players under consideration for an ELC. He was ranked 58th among North American skaters in NHL central scouting’s final rankings and 107th overall in Corey Pronman’s top 107 draft-eligible players but went undrafted.

The team was very impressed with his play at development camp, and his ability to evade forechecks and issue outlet passes was particularly noticeable. The team would like to see him improve his positioning, though one team source also acknowledged that positioning was among the last things defensemen learn. He’s been encouraged to “do less,” as many talented younger players are. More to come.

Mike Stothers, on how Akil Thomas stood out to him today:
Akil? Oh boy. See, there’s a tough question, because, like, I don’t watch them as individuals out there. When we’re a collective group and we’re trying to get so much established in the drills with the systems we’re trying to implement, I didn’t really focus in on anybody. But I like the fact that he’s come in and he seems a lot more comfortable and confident this training camp as opposed to maybe last, and maybe it has something to do with having a great year. He’s been named captain in Niagara, so he’s got a lot to be proud of, and I know he wants to show off.

Stothers, on how he’ll approach tomorrow’s rookie game against Anaheim:
Everybody will play. Like, everybody will play in all situations. We’re not going to get into the specifics of certain guys on power plays and penalty kill. Whoever’s up next is going to go. These guys all want to show case themselves. We want to see them play in all their situations. In most cases, they’ve all played, whether it’s their club team, junior team, college team, they’ve been in those situations anyway. But I did after yesterday’s initial meeting with the fellas, I did tell them that they can lean on Strand and Morrison and Eyssimont – those three guys were with us for the greater part of the year. You’ve got Rymsha, who was with us as well, and JAD was not with us but was with the Kings. You know, you’ve got to have a couple go-to guys. They know me, and they know what we expect here in the Kings organization, so I’ll give them a little tickle to take on some responsibility and help out these younger guys.

Stothers, on Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s performance in last year’s showcase, starting with the first game:
He was really good in that first game, I do remember that. It was probably the only positive we pulled out of that. But he was excellent. He’s business. He’s all business. He’s not a talker, and you can just see he’s focused. When you’re talking, he’s making eye contact. When you’re showing something on the video, he’s dialed right in. You ask him a question, he’s got an answer. He’s a pretty serious guy, and I’m sure away from the rink and with his teammates I’m sure he’s like any other teenage kid or young kid. But they don’t say much around the coach. Not early, anyway. Unless you’re Dudas. [Reporter: Why? What does he say?] He never stops. But I’ve got a pretty good relationship with him from Owen Sound. But, you know what? These kids, they’ve been good. It’s good to just see ‘em back. It’s good to see everybody on the ice. It’s even good to see you guys, sort of.

Stothers, on to what extent rookie camp instruction has evolved under Todd McLellan:
It does to a certain extent. A lot of it is just the verbiage. He’s used to terms that he uses that we might have a different term for that. We’re going to try as coaches at this level to start using the terms that he’s referring to. There are some changes obviously to the systems, but again, not drastic. Maybe a little bit different from the guys in the past or what we’ve been preaching in the past, so we’ll go through that, but it’s going to take some time. We got together in the summer during development camp as coaches and went through a lot of stuff when we were here before camp started and went through some stuff. Again, the presentations that we had today and going forward for these young guys were just to introduce to them or reinforce some of the things they knew from before and then introduce some of the new stuff and get them used to the terminology that they might hear. We try to mirror the Kings as much as possible. We want these guys when they get called up, when they get their opportunity to feel as comfortable as possible. We’re excited about it. I think everybody’s certainly open to some subtle changes. You know what? We’re looking forward to getting forward.

Stothers, on whether today’s line combinations would be used for tomorrow’s rookie game:
Would it be easier for you if I just left them that way? [Reporter: It would be easier, yes. I would appreciate that.] Then I’ll answer your question. I’ll change ‘em for sure tonight. As a matter of fact, as soon as we break here I’m going to get the bingo balls going. But you know me well enough. It’s like, hey, they can start that way, it doesn’t mean they’re going to finish that way. But without – yeah. They’ll stay the same. [Reporter: Sorry, just logistically, will the team that will play in Anaheim tomorrow skate?] We will all skate tomorrow. We’ll all be on the ice for the morning skate at 10, and then you’ll really be able to see who’s playing and who’s not and if you hang around long enough you’ll be able to see who’s skating extra. But everybody’s going to play. Like, everybody’s going to play. [Reporter: Well, not everybody.] Well, I’m not going out there. [Reporter: I mean, you have nine defensemen. ‘Everybody’s’ not going to play, right?] I’ve gone with seven D before. [Reporter: Who gets the start in goal?] One of the three. [Reporter: Last year you split ‘em, right?] Yep. [Reporter: Is that the plan this year, too?] Feel it out tonight. You good? Cam, you got nothing for me? [Reporter: I just like listening.] Dooles, you got nothing? [Reporter: Dooley wanted me to ask whether it would be each goalie playing 60 minutes each game.]

Photos, courtesy Jon Bradley (follow Jon on Instagram here):

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