In the midst of the promising development amongst Kings prospects, the 2020 NHL Draft presented the organization with yet another opportunity to add to an already deep prospect pool.
As is the case with any draft, the work done through selections and trades won’t fully be judged until time has passed and players have had the chance to live up to their potential. Still, it is safe to say that what general manager Rob Blake and his staff accomplished over the two-day event in early October has warranted praise received throughout the hockey community.
During the 2020 NHL Draft, the Kings selected nine players, including second-overall pick Quinton Byfield, and executed three trades, one of which welcomed a former 2017 first-round selection in Lias Andersson. All in all, the Kings came away with six forwards, three defensemen and one goalie stemming across five countries. Keep in mind, also, that just two days prior to the Draft, the Kings acquired a two-time Stanley Cup champion in 26-year-old Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks.
And while the trade for Andersson was certainly noteworthy, given he was a seventh overall pick just three years ago, the first trade the Kings made on Day 2 of this year’s NHL Draft was to select defenseman Brock Faber.
Faber, the Maple Grove, Minnesota native, heard his name called when the Kings traded up six spots to get the right-handed defenseman with the 45th pick (in exchange for the 2020 51st and 97th overall picks being sent to the Detroit Red Wings). Currently in his freshman year at the University of Minnesota, Faber watched his name get called by Mark Yannetti, the Kings Director of Amateur Scouting, while surrounded by his teammates in their trainer’s room just prior to the Gophers practice.
“It was a crazy day,” Faber said in a call with LA Kings Insider. “Even the night before I couldn’t even sleep, just trying to process what was going on. I woke up the next morning super excited. I got breakfast with all of the guys [on the University of Minnesota hockey team] and we went to the rink to get ready for practice. We were all getting dressed and our coach [Bob Motzko] called the team into the trainer’s room to watch the draft just before practice. After hearing my name called by the Kings, everything was a blur. Practice was a blur. It really was a crazy day.”
Following the selection of Faber, Tony Granato, a former member of the Kings and head coach of Faber’s new collegiate rival, the Wisconsin Badgers, spoke to NHL Network and described the defenseman as an “under-the-radar type of player because he’s not fancy. He’s a simple, smart, great first passer. One of those defensemen that goes back, beats the forecheck and gets the puck up to the forwards. He’s a great penalty killer and an extremely coachable kid. He’s the type of player that will continue to blossom.”
Similarly, newly retired NHLer and current assistant coach of the Minnesota Gophers, Paul Martin recounted that “[Brock] carries himself like a pro on and off the ice. He enjoys the game, coming to the rink with the guys and leads by example at practice by putting in the work. [Brock] can really play.”
The youngest of three kids, Faber was the only boy. Growing up, his oldest sister, Payton, wasn’t into hockey, but Paige, who is two years older than Brock, loved the game. Like many younger siblings, Brock followed Paige’s passion for hockey with the same enthusiasm. Yet, while they bonded over the same interest, one difference between them would play a factor in their ability to advance to elite levels in the sport; Paige was born with a cognitive disability.
Having grown up in the same household as Paige, Brock recognized at an early age the hand he was dealt. “Having someone in the same household who is not as fortunate as me that wants to fit in is definitely an eye-opener. It is something that I don’t take for granted,” Faber said.
Regardless of Paige’s disability, their love for hockey not only brought the two closer together as siblings, but also provided an opportunity for each to improve their skill sets.
“My dad would make a rink for us when we were super young in the backyard. Paige and I would skate, pass and shoot all day and night from the time that we could walk all the way up until we outgrew the rink. She’s the most passionate person I’ve ever met about hockey.”
As Brock grew up excelling on the ice, Paige did so too in adapted floor hockey. Though on different surfaces, the siblings were both difference makers. While Brock made USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in Michigan, Paige went on to score over 200 points as a defensemen in high school.
The offensive genes that clearly landed in Paige’s DNA are still a work in progress for Brock, and he’ll be the first to admit that. “I’ve always wanted to add a little bit of offense in my game and I know I’m capable of that too,” the 6-foot blue-liner stated.
With a total of 27 points (6-21=27) over 102 games in his two years at the NTDP, Faber recognizes where his value is and knows where he can improve.
“Defense comes first, and I take pride in my defensive of side of the game but adding a little bit more offense will allow me to become more of a threat. I’m excited to get to that point and think I’ll be able to do that with the University of Minnesota. Shooting the puck more, jumping into the rush; things like that will definitely help me develop that side of my game. I still need to stay focused on the strengths of my game too, and that is my defense. Improving at both will definitely help me get to the next level.”
In my conversation with Faber, he pointed to one specific reason why he plays the game the way he does. “I was a forward growing up, all the way until I was 14. But even then, when we were up a goal late in the games, my coaches would move me back to play defense. Eventually, I just fell in love with being a defenseman and asked my coaches and dad if I could move back to ‘D’ permanently. Once I moved back, everything just started to click; I fell in love with defending and being the last line of defense for our team. A big reason I play the way I do is because of the time I spent as a forward. Having grown up as a forward, I understand their mindset. I’m glad I played forward; it just wasn’t my calling. Now, I love closing rushes down, I love having a strong gap and shutting down the other team’s best players. I take pride in it.”
Faber also pointed to one distinct reason why his work ethic is so dedicated to continuing his dream to make it to the NHL one day: Paige.
With emotions running through his voice, Faber explained, “The way I play and how hard I’ve worked throughout the years is dedicated to Paige. Like I said, how eye-opening and humbling it is to know how great of an opportunity I’ve been given with full ability to hopefully make it to the NHL some day is something I will never take for granted. Without her, I would definitely be less motivated to do so. I’ve been given so many opportunities to succeed and unfortunately Paige hasn’t had them.”
In my conversation with Faber, it was clear that he has not – and will not – forget the roots in which he came from, nor will he overlook the opportunity he has to achieve NHL or international hockey dreams in honor of his family and Paige.
Those same roots have helped him develop the leadership qualities he carries. Rod Braceful, the NTDP’s assistant director of player personnel, echoed those same characteristics about Faber on the All The Kings Men Podcast saying, “Brock is a great person first and foremost. Brock does all the little things right and is a ‘high character’ guy too. He’s a silent worker. Not a big ‘raw, raw’ guy, but instead leads by example.”
Faber echoed Braceful’s opinion, saying, “I try to be leader by example. I’ve had a great support system growing up and my parents have always instilled for me to work as hard as I can and to be a good person. Work comes first always. I’d definitely categorize myself as a leader by example and I strive to both be that and get better at that every time I step on the ice or in the gym.”
As for the goal scorer in the family, Paige has moved on from adapted floor hockey and is now playing ice hockey. With weekly practices, Paige can barely contain her excitement according to the proud younger brother.
“It’s been amazing and it’s awesome watching her play hockey and develop throughout the years. It’s amazing having her as a sister,” he gloated.
When it comes to rooting for each other’s well-being and success in hockey, he finished our conversation by saying “she has a lot to do with my successes so far, and I hope that I have influenced her to be successful with whatever she decides to do in life on and off the ice. She’s definitely my biggest fan and I’m her biggest fan, that’s for sure.”
Faber and the Minnesota Gophers are slated to begin their 2019-20 BIG-10 schedule on Thursday, November 19 against Penn State University.
NOTE – Jack Jablonski works for the Kings and is currently one of many contributors to LA Kings Insider. Our organization understands the importance of LAKI to you and we remain committed to evolving the platform and providing exciting new content once we resume our usual operations.