Armed with entry-level contracts, checking in with Koehn Ziemmer, Kaleb Lawrence & Angus Booth

With two full days completed in this year’s development camp here in El Segundo, three players in particular come to camp with slightly deeper pockets than the year before. Over this past season, the Kings signed prospects Koehn Ziemmer (November 17th, 2023), Angus Booth (December 29th, 2023) and Kaleb Lawrence (May 24th, 2024) to their respective entry-level contracts. Now at camp for the first time since they’ve put pen to paper, the trio of skaters are looking to take advantage of another development camp and show the Kings staff they’re ready to play at the professional hockey ranks.

Between the three, it was a tale of many stories this past season. More on those three players below.

For Ziemmer, the forward took part in his first Kings training camp to start the 2023-24 campaign, followed by a great start with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, but he was injured just 10 days after signing his ELC back in November. With his injury, Ziemmer missed nearly four months of the season before returning just prior to the playoffs. As for Lawrence and Booth, the duo each got traded midway into their season’s and went all the way to the championship in their respective league (Lawrence winning the championship in the OHL and Booth falling in the championship in the QMJHL finals).

Starting with Ziemmer, the Kings’ third-round pick in the 2023 draft is healthy and back in action. At 6–1, 203 pounds, the 19-year-old from Mayerthorpe, Alberta is in the midst of an important offseason. Having missed 41 WHL games due to injury this past year, Ziemmer reflected on his 2023-24 campaign but made sure to emphasize that it’s in the past.

“Obviously it was tough going through my injury and missing most of the year, but the rehab went well,” he said. “I got back and had some playoff experience there again with Prince George this year, which was good. Just to be back and playing again is always nice. I’ve never had an injury before so sitting out was pretty hard but yeah, I feel good and I’m back now.”

Focused on the here and now, but also the future, Ziemmer is keyed in on improving the part of game he feels needs the most work.

“I know my biggest setback is my skating, so I’ve been working on since doing power skating twice a week here,” he said. “I plan on doing a lot more here for the rest of summer. It’s not the most fun of skates, but it’s what I need to do to become a better player, so I’m all for it.”

Drafted just over one year ago, Ziemmer is at his second development camp and like so many, already feels more comfortable at Toyota Sports Center.

“The experience is huge and having been here the year before, being able to know everyone, and feeling comfortable coming into it, it gives me a lot of confidence. I feel good here for sure.”

Looking ahead, Ziemmer hopes to call Toyota Sports Performance Center sooner rather than later.

He’s eligible to play in either the AHL or the WHL this season. Where exactly he winds up remains to be seen, but he’s coming to training camp in the fall looking to prove himself as someone who can hopefully make that jump.

“We’ll see what happens, obviously, being a fourth year this year in the WHL, I can play pro this year, so hopefully that’s my goal is to stick around this year.”

Law-rence & Order
Like Ziemmer, Lawrence too hopes to be calling El Segundo home this coming year.

The 6–6, 221-pound, 21-year-old power forward took massive steps forward during the second half of his season in the OHL. Described last month by the Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti as someone who made “two years of development in the last six months,” Lawrence was a factor for the London Knights in winning the OHL championship this past season, ultimately finishing second at the Memorial Cup. Now at his third development camp, the 2022 seventh-round draft feels right at home.

“I know what to expect coming into this week and it’s nice,” he said. “I know there’s not many nerves now, it’s just kind of getting out here and playing my game.”

Following our second day at development camp, I had the opportunity to talk with Lawrence and ask him about Yannetti’s high praise.

Humbly, Lawrence took the compliment in stride.

“It’s definitely awesome, it’s great to hear someone like [Yannetti] in your corner,” Lawrence said. “I’m just trying to do everything I can now to prove them right and make the Kings one day, hopefully.”

Still with untapped potential, Lawrence isn’t satisfied with the progress he’s made recently. He certainly has more strides to take. As Lawrence put it after the second day of development camp, “my focus is on just protecting the puck, playing a heavy game down low, getting the puck out and winning faceoffs. I want to be a center, so I think winning face-offs and being reliable in there will be really good for me.”

As previously mentioned, Lawrence too wants to be in Southern California come the beginning of the 2024-25 season.

“My goal is to crack the Reign lineup and be able to be a player for them night in and night out and just bring my best foot forward every day and learn as much as I can.”

Beef, Is What’s For Dinner
Rounding out the trio of CHL’ers who’ve signed their ELC’s this past season is defenseman Angus Booth. Like Lawrence, Booth is also in his third development camp and is taking the younger prospects under his wing this week.

“Just to be in my third year of development camp, just following schedule and stuff,” he said. “Knowing where to be, when to be there, I think I have a huge advantage just because I’ve been here a lot and I know how to act. I’ve just tried to lead by example well, I think it’s a good time out here so far.”

A fourth-round selection in 2022, Booth stands at 6–1, 176-pounds and enters the offseason having set a career high in points in the QMJHL this past season with 28 (3-25-28) in 62 games between the Shawinigan Cataractes and Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Not necessarily known for his offense, Booth reflected on the first scrimmage of development camp and his solid defensive play.

“I know my identity,” he said. “I’m a pretty defensive player, so I was just trying to show my game. I think I can keep it simple sometimes, but at the same time, you want to try to show what you can do. So, you don’t always want to keep it simple. Overall it was a good day.”

Still looking to add to his game and learn from those who have done it at the highest level, Booth credited player development defense coaches Sean O’Donnell and Matt Greene with valuable lessons in the first two days of camp.

“It’s been a great day. Altogether, we had some good skates this morning with [O’Donnell and Greene], and we learned a lot from the D skates. Then we got to bring that into the game. Obviously, I think it was a high-paced game, a physical game, and it was a lot of fun to play.”

Looking at the value of this week and hoping it sets the stage going into next season, Booth’s focus is on showing the Kings staff his growth across the past season and his unscrewed strength.

“Obviously, I just want to showcase what I’m able to do. I’ve been focusing on really getting bigger and stronger, and I’m trying to showcase that at these scrimmages and drills we do in the morning. I think I’ve just continued the way it’s been going.”

Development Camp concludes today. The players are on the ice now for positional sessions and will hold the final scrimmage of the week this afternoon at 3 PM. Full coverage to follow on LAKI!

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