Friday, February 12, 2010

NHL Draft - triple header today

Later this afternoon -when the euphoria of the pseudo trade deadline has passed - you can catch up on your 2010 NHL Draft prep with three match-ups to chose from. Tonight's televised games feature some WHL action and three of the top teams in college hockey. You'll have a chance to see over a dozen players that will likely hear their names called come draft time.

Spokane Chiefs at Everett Silvertips (WHL)

In 2007, 2008 and 2009 the Kings took players from the WHL in the first round. In fact, the WHL has had more players drafted than any any other league worldwide in recent years - so, there's plenty of talent being showcased in the Western junior league.

Tonight's game features three players ranked by the NHL's Central Scouting Service. For those unfamiliar, their midterm rankings categorize all top draft-eligible prospects by area (North America-Europe) and position (skater-goaltender) in advance of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft being held in Los Angeles this June.

NHL Central Scouting ranked players in this game:
Everett Silvertips
Goaltender Kent Simpson (#7 N. American goalie)
Skaters - Alex Theriau (#74) and Radko Gudas (#131)

Simpson is a 17 year old goaltender from Edmonton, Alberta who is among the top three WHL netminders in save percentage. Theriau is a 6'2" defenseman from Duncan, British Columbia, also 17 years old.

Gudas, a 5'11" 19-year old from Prague, Czech Republic, represented his country at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships. He also participated in the Kings rookie training camp back in September...and in an interview here, he had this to say about the experience:

"It was a pretty good experience. I was there in the summer in (Kings) development camp and they invited me to the rookie camp so I really enjoyed it. LA’s a great city and the training camp and rookie camp were pretty good...there were many things I learned. The hockey is different from Europe so I had to change my style for playing to another system and smaller ice."

Being a year older than most draft eligible players has led some scouts to say he could be NHL ready next year.

Everett forward Tyler Maxwell (jersey #9) was also invited to that camp after not being selected in the '09 draft. He currently sits second on the Silvertips in goals (27) and points (55). However, at 5'9" he's a long shot for the NHL. Maybe Manchester someday?

The game can be seen on FoxSports Northwest (channel 687 on DirecTV) at 7pm PST.

Minnesota State Mavericks at Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)

Wisconsin, the highest scoring team in the nation, is currently ranked #1 in the country. Meanwhile, Minnesota State is ranked #22.

Tyler Pitlick, a 6'2" center for Minn-State, is ranked #21 by NHL scouting - so he has an outside shot at going in the first round of the upcoming NHL draft (you have to factor in the European players, plus the goalies).

John Ramage, a 6'1" defenseman for Wisconsin, is ranked #187 - so he's projected as a mid to late round draft pick up.

Other players to watch:
UW Junior defenseman Brendan Smith has been mentioned among the leading candidates for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Jordy Murray, former Kings coach Andy Murray's 'other' son, also plays for UW. As most of you know, Jordy's brother Brady was drafted by the Kings and is still team property. Jordy injured his shoulder in December, however he's been playing much better in 2010. (Read the MayorsManor interview with Andy Murray, where he talks about his sons, by clicking here).

Current Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske played four years for the Badgers, winning an NCAA Championship in 2006 (beating Peter Harold and his Boston College teammates).

David Backes of the St. Louis Blues (their 2nd round pick back at the '03 draft) is a former Maverick. He's also getting ready to play for Team USA in the Olympics.

This game can be seen on the NHL Network starting at 6pm PST (channel 215 on DirecTV)

Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks at Ohio State Buckeyes (NCAA)

Although this game does not feature any players from the NHL's mid-term draft rankings, the Buckeyes are ranked #25 in the country entering action tonight.

Ohio State alum Ryan Kesler, a former first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, will play a big role for Team USA at the Olympics starting next week.

David Steckel - the Kings first round pick in the 2001 draft (and now with the Capitals) - also went to Ohio State.

The Big Ten Channel (DirecTV channel 610) will broadcast this game beginning at 4pm PST.

For the full list of draft-eligible skaters and goaltenders ranked by the NHL's Central Scouting division click here.

Read. Watch. Enjoy.

The Mayor

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Midweek Musings

Brief update as we hit the midpoint of the week:

* Monday was Thomas Hickey's 21st birthday. He remains the top rated Kings prospect, according to The former captain of Team Canada at the World Juniors is currently recouping from a shoulder injury sustained in late November. Speculation has him possibly returning in late March / early April. To read more about Hickey's skills and leadership, check out this article that was posted last summer.

* Two of the other Kings top prospects - both recent number one draft picks by LA - Colten 'Mr. Nasty' Teubert (Regina Pats) and Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings) faced off last night in WHL action. On Tuesday night the Wheat Kings beat the Pats for the fourth time this season, the final score was 6-2. Neither player scored.

* Today is Dallas Stars forward Mike Ribeiro's birthday. He just returned from a pretty bad injury. How long he'll remain in a Stars uniform seems to be the big question. Rumors are circulating throughout Dallas that he and/or Steve Ott are about to be traded. (You may recall, in an article here I speculated on Ott's fit with the Kings).

* Received an odd email the other day from a follower on Twitter. They alerted me to a post (or should I say tweet) from @POVJoe that read "Tomorrows game plan..Kings game in Anaheim with 8 Ice Girls. Im taking 8 of them to the game to watch the kings cook the ducks. Pics to cum" Oh boy - sounds exactly like the type of PR the Kings don't need. To date, nothing has surfaced.

* Added a link near the top left corner of the page called INTERVIEWS. In case you've missed any of our interviews with guys like Robitaille, Roenick, Modano, Blake, etc. you can quickly access them through the new Interview page.

* Reminder - Thursday night is the first of three upcoming bobblehead nights. To see pictures of the other two bobbles click here. For those wondering why Simmonds was selected to go first, a Kings email this week included the following "This Thursday...the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Wayne Simmonds bobblehead. Also, as part of Black History Night, Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the NHL, will take part in the ceremonial puck drop."

* Pictures of Jonathan Quick's TEAM USA mask for the Olympics have been posted HERE and HERE.

The Mayor

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kings prospect named WHL Player of the Week

Martin Jones, a Kings goaltending prospect playing junior hockey for the Calgary Hitmen, was named the WHL player of the week.

You may remember hearing his name last month when he played for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships - along side other Kings prospects Colten Teubert, Brayden Schenn and Brandon Kozun.

The 19 year old goalie is finishing up his fourth year with the Hitmen. After not being drafted by any NHL team the Kings signed him to a free agent contract in the summer of 2008.

Highlights from the WHL press release:
Jones posted a 3-0-0-0 record this past week with one shut-out, stopping 89 of 91 shots faced for a 0.670 goals-against average and a remarkable 0.978 save percentage.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, the Hitmen were at the Credit Union i-plex in Swift Current to face the Broncos. Jones stopped 23 of 24 shots faced as the Hitmen doubled up the Broncos 2-1. The next night, Thursday, February 4th, the Hitmen were in Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers. Jones stopped 33 of 34 shots, including 15 saves in the third period, to help lead the Hitmen to a 4-1 victory. He was also named the games 1st Star. Back at the Saddledome on Saturday, February 6th, the Hitmen hosted the Tigers for the back end of their home-and-home series. Jones stopped all 33 shots faced and was named the games 1st Star as the Hitmen shut-out the Tigers 2-0.

With Jones picking up three wins this past week and eight victories in his last 10 games, which include four shut-out performances, he now sits 4th among WHL goaltenders with 24 wins on the season. His goals-against average also ranks him 4th in the WHL at 2.54.
Assuming top goaltending prospect Jonathan Bernier is with the Kings in LA next season, all other goalies in the system would likely get a bump up to the next level as well. Jeff Zatkoff, currently backing up Bernier in Manchester, would probably assume the starting job there for the 2010-11 campaign. Allowing Jones to become Z's back-up or possibly end up in Ontario as the starter for the Reign.

The Mayor

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Different teams elicit different feelings and emotions from fans and players alike. When the schedule comes out every July we all have a handful of teams we rush to circle. Some teams you secretly cheer for when the Kings aren't playing, some you love to hate and some you actually do hate. Call it the 'amp-factor' - as in how amped you get for that particular game.

Anaheim is an obvious one, given the geography of the rivalry.

Ditto for San Jose. Although Phoenix is about the same distance from LA, yet any sort of rivalry between the Coyotes-Kings pales in comparison to the Sharks-Kings. And it's always been that way, so go figure. Perhaps that's remnants of the Dodgers-Giants or SoCal-NoCal thing.

Other teams come and go, largely based upon how they've done in recent years. There was a time when the Rangers coming to town was one of THE games. It hasn't been that way in a long, long time.

The Av's were a big game six or seven years ago, not as much the last two or three.

I remember the Blackhawks being big games back at the Forum, not so much at Staples.

Edmonton and Calgary - well, I'm not sure anything will ever match the raw emotion of the games with those two teams from about 1990-1993.

Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta, etc. - I'd probably get more amped to see the Kings play the Barnes&Noble All Stars.

Which brings us to Detroit.

After play on the ice - which has to be the number one criteria - two other things usually help shape my feelings about a team and my 'amp' level for playing them (in no particular order)...

One, how do the fans of that team represent their club? I'm all for some good smack talk. However, I have little tolerance for 'rude for the sake of being rude' and/or unintelligent verbal attacks. If you have something original, you get major props from me. If you just say dumb things like "How many Stanley Cups do you have?" - well, you pretty much need to go back to kindergarten son because you don't have the chops to fight your way out of a paper bag on a rainy day. You're mouth is bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Which somewhat dovetails into my second criteria - how the team's players interact with me in the tunnel at Staples Center plays a major role in my amp-factor. If they 'get it' and can 'give it' in return, mucho respect.

Based on the above, the Detroit Red Wings have long been a game I circle on the calendar. It's too easy to respect them just because they've been good. I'm looking for something more.

I've been fortunate enough to see the Kings play on the road in nearly every NHL city (and some cities that don't even have teams anymore, like Winnipeg). Much to my surprise, Detroit was one of my favorite road games. The fans there were absolutely some of the best - nothing like the Motor City fans who show up to Staples Center. The fans in Detroit were constantly coming up to me (and the others in my group) wanting to talk hockey, swap stories, give us tips on what to do in the city, etc. It was amazing. Total class acts - every single person we came into contact with. Class.

Sidebar - the highlight of that trip - well, there were two...first, the Kings were being dominated by Detroit and entered the third period down 3-1...LA came back to score four unanswered goals on Chris Osgood to win the game 5-3 (and yes, even after that happened the fans were still cool to us as we left the building)...

The second highlight that night was with about two minutes left in the game Chris Chelios (somebody I've had numerous verbal exchanges with through the years) is sitting on the bench...and for reasons I still don't understand, he inexplicably turns around and starts looking at people in the crowd...when his eyes pass my seat he quickly snaps his head back (like you would see in a movie), doing a double take...

In less than a second you can see the look on his face as he realizes he recognizes his old nemesis, even though the setting is wrong - we're in Detroit, not LA...he smiles, then chuckles...and before I can even say anything, stands up and hands me his 20 years I've never seen a player give his stick away while the game is still going part about it though - I'm wearing my Kings jersey (of course) and I'm surrounded by an entire section of red and white clad Wings fans...all of their jaws hit the floor...priceless!

Back to my criteria - interactions with the players. So many heated games between the Kings-Wings over the last 10 years have provided numerous opportunities to have some, discussions...with Wings players as they pass between the tunnel and bench at Staples. Many have been classy - that list doesn't include Federov and Krupp, but we'll save that story for a different day.

Saturday afternoon provided one of the funnier interactions. Osgood has been heckled for years by Kings fans - and fans around the league, even including those in Detroit.

He was backing up Howard yesterday, so there was at least a possibility of some conversation. I started with the easy stuff. You know, asking him to get me a beer since he wasn't doing anything else. He says "I would, but I'd drink it before I made it back - and I'm not allowed to drink in uniform." So I ask for a pizza because I'm hungry. He lets me know he'll "need some money for the food" because he doesn't "run errands for free." Let me reiterate, it's all light weight stuff at this point, nothing serious.

Next thing you know we're talking stats, he's offering me an update on Cheli's play in the AHL this year (apparently he knew I'd care), etc. Then, during a stoppage in play, when nobody else was really listening, he started asking me about the Kings play of late. He was asking genuine questions, showing real interest in how they've been playing recently and if this team is for real.

It was the strangest conversation.

Then on the drive home I started laughing and wondered -was it really that strange? The Red Wings were just about to fall out of my top tier of teams to get hyped about. Let's face it, they're on the way down and probably wont be winning their division again anytime soon due to the rise of the Blackhawks. Yet, here was Osgood - without knowing it - giving me a pseudo subliminal reminder of one of the reasons I respect them so much. Some of their guys get it.

Respect. It goes both ways.

The Mayor