If such a prop bet existed in Las Vegas, one could have made a lot of money wagering that, on Feb. 20, Jordan Nolan would be Anze Kopitar’s left winger. Nolan, a 2009 seventh-round draft pick, wasn’t even expected to be in the NHL this season, at age 22, but after being called up last week, Nolan played four games on the second line and now has been moved up to play with Kopitar and Justin Williams. Part of the move is position-based. Nolan had been playing right wing but is a natural left winger. Darryl Sutter wanted to move Dustin Brown off the first line, and wanted to keep Mike Richards and Dwight King together, so Nolan was the most-viable option to move up.
SUTTER: “I think that’s totally interchangeable. We’re just trying to get Kopitar to play. It’s got nothing to do with Jordan Nolan, or who that winger is. That’s Jordan’s best position.’’
Nolan hasn’t been dynamic in his stint with the Kings thus far, but he’s brought energy and hard work and has been mostly responsible away from the puck. Also, Nolan is now going back to his preferred position. Nolan said the move to the right side had been made in Manchester this season.
NOLAN: “I didn’t do too bad, so they kept me there. … I think (on left wing) it’s a little easier for me to handle the pucks off the walls and break out of our zone.’’
Nolan also talked about his unexpected rise this season, in the context of having to work hard to prove himself after being a largely unheralded prospect coming out of junior hockey.
NOLAN: “I wasn’t expected to get drafted, in my last year of junior. It was definitely a surprise to get drafted in the seventh round, but also an honor to get drafted. I had to work hard to get that contract. I had to work hard to get to the American league and then I had to work hard to get called up here. It feels good, to have your dream happen. It’s exciting, so I want to work as hard as I can to stay here.’’