Monday, November 23, 2009

Manchester Mondays

In a new feature here on we're going to take a look at the Kings top prospects playing down in the AHL for the Manchester Monarchs. This will be a semi regular feature, usually appearing on Mondays the Kings have off.

Manchester is currently tied for the Eastern Conference lead, with 27 points. Their 12 wins in 21 games is second best to the Hershey Bears - who have won 13 in just 19 games. Hershey seems to be picking up right where they left off, winning last season's AHL championship (the Calder Cup). Washington Capitals first round draft pick John Carlson was playing for the Bears until recently, when the rookie defenseman was called up to the NHL. Meanwhile, the Monarchs have had their own rookie to feel good about, 2008's fifth round selection by the Kings, Andrei Loktionov.

You may remember that name from back in September. He had a superb rookie camp and I wrote about him multiple times, in articles HERE and HERE (click them and read up!). The 19 year old is off to a fast start in Manchester, with 17 points in 20 games while maintaining a plus 6 rating. Prior to this season he played with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. In just 51 regular season games he had 66 points and was a plus 28 last year. He didn't lose any ground in the playoffs either, tallying 33 points (tops for OHL rookies) in 20 playoff games - helping Windsor to win the Memorial Cup Championship. This kid is no joke, having played in the Russian Super League during the 2007-08 season and for Team Russia at the 2008 Under-18 World Championships. Earlier today he got 'the call' and is currently packing his bags to join the Kings for their two game Canadian road trip starting Wednesday in Edmonton.

Also called up to the big club today was Brandon "Bugsy" Segal. It will be interesting to see what type of game the right winger adds to the Kings team. Plenty of organizations have certainly given up on him to a certain degree. After originally being drafted by the Nashville Predators in the fourth-round back in 2002, he's spent time in the Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning organizations. Back in July he was picked up by Dean, Hex and the gang after having a brief taste of the NHL last year - debuting in a March contest between the Lightning and Penguins.

Casual LA fans are probably most familiar with goaltender Jonathan Bernier and defenseman Thomas Hickey. If nothing else, you've heard their names. Both are former first round draft picks and guys the Kings are betting big on in the coming years. Bernier has been playing lights out hockey almost all year for the Monarchs. However, he isn't expected to get a call up anytime soon. The team has given the reigns to Quick in LA and wants Bernier to get one more year of seasoning in the minors.

Another name you might recognize is Oscar Moller. The 5'10" center played his way on to the team coming out of camp last season. He played decently for the first few months and then was lent to Team Sweden for the World Junior Championships in late December. While wearing the 'C' for his native country he was having a great tournament, earning a silver medal for the second straight year. However, upon arriving home it was announced he had a hurt shoulder and never really found his groove again. He's playing on the Monarchs top line this season, along side Loktionov and Bud Holloway. Terry Murray told me (in an article here) he just doesn't see him having a spot on the Kings this year. However, that was before Teddy Purcell began his disappearing act, so...who knows.

His linemate, Holloway, played half of last season here in SoCal, splitting time between the Monarchs and the Ontario Reign. Ditto for goalie Jeff Zatkoff. With an injury to Bernier a few weeks ago, Zatkoff saw some additional playing time; as he is primarily the back up to JB this season.

If you're bored, click here to see how Kings whipping boy John Zeiler is doing this year in Manch.

There have been plenty of injuries to go around, as is par for the course in the game of hockey. Trevor Lewis injured his right shoulder soon after arriving back in Manchester, following his early season stint with the Kings. Richard Clune, who many thought would start the year in LA, seems to have been battling one injury or another all year. And Justin Azevedo has also missed a few games lately too.

Which brings us to Kevin Westgarth. Given the ineffective play of Ivanans for the Kings this year, I'm still not sure why Westie hasn't been called up yet. He has the physical part of the game like Ivanans, while also bringing much, much more energy to the ice. Back in September (in an article here) I talked with Kings GM Dean Lombardi about the possibility of having both Westgarth and Ivanans in the Kings line-up for certain games. Dean said he was "tired of the Kings getting pushed around the last few years - especially against the Ducks." With the two teams meeting for the first time next week, is his evil dream about to become a reality?

That's life on the farm. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.


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