Good Morning, Insiders!
The Kings were back on the ice this morning in El Segundo, following an off day yesterday. The Kings had 15 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders on the ice this morning, with blueliner Olli Maatta rejoining the group this morning.
Here’s how the Kings lined up this morning –
Arvidsson – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Danault – Kempe
Tkachev – Vilardi – Andersson
Lemieux – Moore – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Wagner
Anderson – Doughty
Bjornfot – Roy
Edler – Walker
Wolanin – Strand
The Kings made a few changes to what we’ve seen over the last few days, with changes dictated both by the play of certain individuals and by injuries, with Quinton Byfield no longer an option at this time.
Change number one this morning was playing Trevor Moore in the middle on the fourth line, which was perhaps an unintended benefit of Moore’s time with Team USA at the World Championships in May.
Moore centered the top line for the Americans and had an extremely successful tournament in doing so. Though the circumstances were different – mainly considering the larger ice and the lower competition as compared to an NHL game – there were positive signs for how Moore’s game translated to the middle.
“He had a tremendous tournament, he played in the middle there, he commanded the ice when he played there, on the big ice surface,” Todd McLellan said of Moore this morning. “Granted, the competition is different and that kind of stuff, but I think he’s a smart enough player to handle that task. We’re going to try it tomorrow. We’re not too sure how he’s going to be in the faceoff circle, but we’re not too concerned about that right now. We’ll try it, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Secondly, Arthur Kaliyev was slotted into the bottom six, on Moore’s wing, as opposed to the purple line, which has been used to designate the fifth line during these latter camp skates. That notion indicates that he’s being given a legitimate look at a roster spot here.
Kaliyev was recalled yesterday afternoon, after he was assigned with a larger group to Ontario earlier in the day, a good sign that he was a standout performer in the eyes of the staff from the group to get that opportunity on Wednesday in Anaheim. And, of course, he was, with a hat trick and his performance drawing good reviews from Todd McLellan post game. The Kings Head Coach expanded on Kaliyev’s situation today.
“The player has to be ready for the NHL, and we have to be ready for the player,” McLellan said of working in a young player on a more permanent basis. “Those two things have to happen at the same time, and when that occurs, then we’re ready and it’s beneficial to both the team and the individual. In Arty’s case…the opportunity to gain experience at his pace, and in his world, is more beneficial than throwing him to the wolves every night.”
The important thing is to balance the needs of the player and the team. Not every player is ready to step into the NHL lineup in the role that might be available to them. Other times, the player might be ready, but the team isn’t ready to accommodate them in the way that best benefits their development. When the timing doesn’t align right away, that’s when you usually see controversy from an outside perspective. When the timing does align, you’ve got the match you’re looking for.
McLellan recollected sending Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse, now two high-level NHL talents, to the AHL in his first season in Edmonton. At that time, it was what was best for those players, and it turned out just fine.
“We had Connor McDavid in Edmonton, [guys like] McDavid, Auston Matthews, there are very few of these players, very few that can come in and have that much of an impact,” McLellan said. “Our first year in Edmonton, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse started in the American League. One is a potential Olympian for Team Canada and the other one is a Hart Trophy winner. They got what they needed to arrive at the right time. Other players have been rushed in the past and I’ve been able to witness what happens when you rush somebody too, and it’s not good for anybody’s confidence.”
How this plays out for Kaliyev, or for say Samuel Fagemo or Alex Turcotte or Jordan Spence remains to be seen. In the here and now though, Kaliyev will be in the lineup on Saturday against Anaheim, with an opportunity to show the coaching staff that the needs of everyone align.
Roy Oh Boy – Generating More Offense
Throughout training camp, we’ve heard a lot of buzzwords. Action phrases. Exciting words, or combinations of, that get the juices flowing for things you want to see more of from the Kings this season.
One such phrase has been “offense from the blueline”. It’s not new to this season’s Kings. It’s not a new concept in general. It was a focus last season, that fell short as the season went on, but getting it is important in generating more goals at even strength, with defensemen playing different roles in getting it done.
One such player is Matt Roy, who is no longer a fresh-faced rookie, and now a bearded member of the secondary core.
Did you know that Roy had eight goals and 29 points from 45 games during his last season at the AHL level? That’s 15-goal, 50-point pace over the course of 82 games. It’s not to say that Roy projects to be that type of a player here with the Kings, but the point is that he has offensive instincts, and knows he has it in him to produce more than the two goals and 10 points he had a season ago.
Lots of Ry’s AHL production came via his hard, heavy shot from the point, both in terms of direct goals and redirections that led to goals for other players. The Michigan native touched on a few different aspects of offensive creation today, and the balance struck between maybe playing more off the rush and things that he can do in the offensive zone to create more.
Here’s what he had to say –
On what he can do to generate more offense
Getting pucks through is probably the biggest thing, for me at least. Getting my shots through, letting the forwards get a tip or a rebound. Other than that, I think we need to jump up in the rush more and just create more when we can to give ourselves a chance on offense.
On if different players, with different skills, can contribute to offense differently
Walks is a great skater, I think it’s pretty easy for him to get up and down the ice, he’s really fast, so it’s good when he gets up there. Me, I tend to focus more defensively, I get more pucks from the point and I feel that’s more of my offensive game. That being said, I still need to jump up more often to create as well.
On seeing rookies expand offensively as they get more comfortable in the NHL
Definitely, I think any new guy coming in wants to take care of their own game and take care of their job. Once you get used to that and get used to the pace, I think naturally you tend to jump in more and try to create more.
Hear the full interview with Roy from this morning’s media availability below!
The Kings are slated to hold a morning skate tomorrow at TSPC, in advance of the final game of the exhibition season, against the Anaheim Ducks at 7:30 PM from STAPLES Center. From that point, after an off day on Sunday, it’s all systems go with getting the NHL roster in place for opening night six days from today.