Three days in, teammates and coaches weigh in on the exciting addition of Kevin Fiala

With three days of training camp down, the Kevin Fiala era has begun in Los Angeles.

We all knew about the hype coming in, we know what the Kings gave up to bring him to Los Angeles, we know what the team committed to him financially to start a long-term relationship. Now, we know exactly how the team views him, which is a hopeful solution on the left wing of the top forward line.

Fiala has skated on that top unit in each of the first three days of camp, linking up with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe on what could be a dynamic and offensively gifted first line.

“I felt we connected pretty well [in the scrimmages],” Fiala said of his new line. “I felt we connected pretty well, we were thinking the game pretty similarly, we were thinking the game fast and all of us want the puck, we want to create. On the defensive side, all three of us are reliable. Right now, it’s a good mix.

Kopitar now has two 30-goal scorers on his wing, giving the pass-first center a pair of options who can both shoot the puck and skate with it.

Is that an adjustment on the scoring front for the veteran center?

“It’s probably not the goal side of things, it’s the speed side of things that I’m going to have to get up and running with, but I’m not too concerned about,” he said with a smile.

Fiala presents a package that the Kings have not had in a winger in quite some time.

“He allows another level of offensive play to enter into the picture,” Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “It completes a line a little bit more. We have a starting point, I don’t know where it’ll go from here, whether that line will blend or mesh or whether he has to play with somebody else but we’re starting at a certain point. Day one he did a really good job of fitting in, he understands how we want to play there’s some similarities between his former two teams and us and that’s comforting.”

The hope internally is that Fiala is the perfect third piece alongside Kopitar and Kempe on a line that saw Kempe explode for a team-leading 35 goals a season ago. Coming off of a season with more than 30 goals himself, Fiala had a breakout of his own during his 2021-22 campaign in Minnesota. Now, armed with a new role on a new team, Fiala’s sights are set on clicking with Kopitar and Kempe on a new-look line.

Fiala said rather abruptly that he’s never played with a center of Kopitar’s ability during his hockey career to date. While he’s been a part of some good teams in his career, and had some solid linemates he’s rarely been given the opportunity to play on a first line, with a future Hall of Famer skating alongside him. He’s produced nonetheless, despite ice time that’s fallen more in the realm of a second or third line player.

“Just having a having a linemate like that for me, it means a lot,” Fiala said. “He’s been through it, he’s the number-one center, he won some Stanley Cups and I look up to him, it’s a pleasure playing with him.”

Through Kopitar’s lens, it’s not an overnight thing where all three players will all of a sudden simply mesh, but Fiala’s offensive gifts were evident to his new centerman.

New line or old, Kopitar understands that there’s always an adjustment period, even when it comes to just starting a new season. Even if if takes a few skates together, Kopitar is well aware the caliber of player the Kings added, which has added to his excitement entering a new season.

“I know him from playing against him, he’s obviously very crafty and he has a really good shot,” Kopitar said. “It’ll take a few days to really get to know him on the ice, to see how the timing is and the chemistry, where it takes us. I’m liking what I’m seeing right now, so it should be a lot of fun.”

On the other side of the line represents a familiar face. While Fiala is Swiss, he grew up playing in Sweden, playing in similar circles to Kempe.

Fiala previously mentioned that one thing that appealed about Los Angeles was the opportunity to play with a talented group of European players, something that might make the transition easier for him as he changed teams. Both first-round selections during the 2014 NHL Draft, Fiala and Kempe have a bit more history than the newly acquired forward does with the bulk of his new teammates.

“We used to play against each other a lot growing up you know, he played in Sweden and we never really played on the same team or anything but we’ve always known of each other, played against each other a lot and he’s a hell of a player,” Kempe said of Fiala. “Watching him ever since we both got drafted in same year, he’s been in Nashville and [Minnesota] and was one of their best players. Especially last year he had a great year, playing on the second line scoring almost 90 points is pretty impressive. I think we’re all very excited to have him here. I think he’s very excited to be here too and hopefully we can make some good things out of it.”

Though the real test will come when the opposition is wearing a different jersey, and when the games count for points, Fiala has shown some exciting flashes early in training camp. Speed and skill, sure, but he’s used those tools in an aggressive manor, coming to the forefront earlier today when he forced a turnover deep in the offensive zone, drove to the net and used a silky move to bury a backhanded shot top shelf on Jonathan Quick.

That showcased the full package that Fiala brings, and the challenge playing against him presents currently to those in Group B.

While they’ve squared off in scrimmages here over the last few days, defenseman Drew Doughty certainly isn’t going to miss playing against his new teammate in a real game.

“I didn’t like playing against him,” Doughty admitted. “He’s a good player. Fast, good shot, smart player too, he uses his body well. I’m sure he can tell you too, we’ve had some good battles me and him over the years……I’m really excited to have him, really, really excited. The first thing I said to him when we traded for him is that I’m happy to be with you now and not against you and he said the same thing. He’s going to make our team that much better.”

As McLellan said on Day 1 of camp, the players know best and as a number-one defenseman and a talented offensive player, Doughty and Fiala have earned the respect of one another from competitive battles over the years.

Now, that Fiala is on their side, he figures to be a weapon at the Kings’ disposal as they look to take the next step in the process. The expectations for the Kings as a team this season are high and Fiala is no exception. He was acquired for a large sum via trade and will be expected to be a high-level producer for a team with strong expectations.

His Head Coach knows what kind of player he can be, and seems pretty confident in seeing that thought become a reality on the ice this season.

“We are excited about having him,” McLellan added. “We wouldn’t have traded for him, we wouldn’t have signed him if we didn’t think he was going to be that player.”

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