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You’ll Have To Look Closely To See Where LA Kings LW Prospect Valentin Zykov Has Improved

LA KINGS PROSPECT WATCH: Throughout the summer, Frozen Royalty will be taking a look at several of the Los Angeles Kings’ young prospects. In this installment, the focus is on 2013 second round selection Valentin Zykov. An audio interview with Zykov is also included.


EL SEGUNDO, CA — After looking at Los Angeles Kings’ left wing prospect Valentin Zykov’s statistics in his two seasons with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, you might wonder if he has improved from the previous year.

In 2012-13, the 6-2, 205-pound (weight at start of the 2013-14 season) native of St. Petersburg, Russia scored 40 goals and tallied 35 assists for 75 points in 67 regular season games. He also played in 19 playoff games, scoring ten goals and adding nine assists for 19 points.

Last season, Zykov’s numbers were not much different. In 53 regular season games, he scored 23 goals and contributed 40 assists for 63 points, and in 22 playoff games, he scored seven goals and added 15 assists for 22 points.

So close were his 2012-13 and 2013-14 numbers that even though Zykov played in 14 fewer regular season games last season, his 1.19 points per game was just nearly the same as his 1.12 mark in 2012-13. Even his post-season average of one point per game was identical in both years.

If his offensive numbers don’t indicate that he has improved over the previous season, in what aspects of his game has Zykov improved?

“Probably on the defensive side,” said Zykov, who was selected by the Kings in the second round (37th overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft. “[In the] defensive zone, I’m more aware of where’s the open man and where’s your guy.”

Zykov was in Southern California right after Independence Day for the Kings’ annual Development Camp for their young prospects.

“It’s like starting to work again in a new season,” he said. “Getting shape again, getting the form back. It’s easier [than it was during the 2013 Development Camp]. When you know what to expect, it gets a little bit easier.”

Apparently, work is exactly what Zykov has done since last summer’s Development Camp…workout, that is. Indeed, it was rather apparent that he has also improved in the strength department—he has obviously added some muscle to his frame since the 2013 Development Camp. But when asked if he had bulked up since last summer, Zykov coyly replied, “Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe a little bit.”

The Kings have noticed Zykov’s year-to-year improvements.

“I see the positive things he’s done [since last summer],” said Mike Donnelly, who works with the Kings development staff and also serves as a collegiate scout. “I really believe his work ethic is really solid. I’m trying to instill good habits in him.”

“We’re happy with his progression and we’ll keep getting him better,” added Donnelly.

One year after he was drafted the Kings went on to win their second Stanley Cup Championship in three seasons. But Zykov was unable to watch the vast majority of the Kings’ 2014 playoff run.

“[The games] were at night, and was I Russia, so mostly, I watched highlights,” he said. “I saw a couple of the [full] games against Anaheim.”

Zykov took note of the fact that young players who came up through the Kings’ system, like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, played significant roles in the Kings’ run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship.

“When you see young guys get on the team and help them to win, of course it gives you some hope,” said Zykov. “Tyler Toffoli and guys like that—you just try to follow what they’ve done—get better every year and try to do the same thing. Everybody wants to make the NHL as fast as they can.”

Zykov will spend the rest of the summer in Canada where he will workout before returning to Southern California for the Kings rookie camp and training camp in September.

Beyond that, at 19 years of age, Zykov has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it seems likely that he will return to Baie-Comeau for another season. Nevertheless, he is still looking forward to bigger and brighter things.

“The only thing I’m thinking about is turning pro,” he noted. “That’s it. [But] whereever the [Kings] send me, I’ll go there. I’ll feel ready [to advance to the professional level] when the coaching staff says [I’m ready].”

Raw Audio Interviews

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):

Valentin Zykov (3:39)

Frozen Royalty’s 2014 Off-Season LA Kings Prospects Coverage


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