ONTARIO, CA – Mid-September marks the beginning of the NHL rookie camps and the end of the long hot days with no hockey. Most teams wrapped up their camps with scrimmages against other rookie teams this week. In California, the Ducks journeyed up to San Jose over the weekend while the Kings welcomed the Golden Knights to El Segundo for a crash course in LA traffic (the Kings practice facility is next to LAX and in the middle of one of the worst areas for traffic).
We made our pilgrimage to the Toyota Sports Center to take in the second rookie game on Wednesday. The game itself was not the most entertaining and the Kings rookies did not fare too well against the Golden Knights, going down 3-0 before road conditions forced an early exit (after 3 hours on the freeways, we realized leaving early didn’t gain anything).
However, there were a few standouts on the Kings’ roster to watch.
Sam Kurker (RW) – While not lighting the ice on fire and embarrassing defensemen, Kurker was quietly the best forward for LA. Nearly every time the Kings had a good scoring chance, Kurker was in the middle of the play. He had no problems driving to the front of the net or hanging back to make the pass. There were also no moments when he was caught out of position. On tryout after spending last year with the Albany Devils, we expect him to at least get a chance with the Ontario Reign.
Philippe Maillet (C) – Again, not a player who lit up the other team, Maillet was easily the most composed of the LA team. He looked like the veteran player on the ice trying to set an example for the kids. Responsible with flashes of passing brilliance, we can’t wait to see what he will do with the Reign this year.
Matt Marcinew (RW) – Another tryout kid, Marcinew started the game slowly, but picked it up as the time wore on. By the third period, he was making things happen on the ice, giving his line some good chances.
Chaz Reddekopp (D) – We include Reddekopp here as he was the best of an uninspiring defense corps. Reddekopp played a few games with the Reign last year, and the experience showed in his play on the ice. Solid with few mistakes.
We’ll have a look at the prospective Reign roster this week as the club looks to be filling quite a few spots while adapting to new directions from the parent club.