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LA Kings Believe The Time Is Now For Forward Prospect Andy Andreoff

LA KINGS PROSPECT WATCH: Throughout the summer, Frozen Royalty has taken a look at several of the Los Angeles Kings’ young prospects. In the final installment of this series, the focus is on 2011 third round selection left wing/center Andy Andreoff. Audio interviews with Andreoff and Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake are also included.


LOS ANGELES — For 23-year old left wing/center prospect Andy Andreoff, if the Los Angeles Kings have their way, his time is now, or at least, in a few weeks.

“His contract situation has a lot to do with that, in that he would [have to clear] waivers—there would be 29 teams lined up to get ahold of him,” said Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake. “It’s a big summer for him. He was sat down, early in the summer. We explained the scenario that this is the time to push to really get on this team.”

 

“He hasn’t had the opportunities that Tanner [Pearson] and Tyler [Toffoli] had last year,” added Blake. “But he came around for the playoffs [as one of the Kings’ Black Aces, young prospects who were recalled from the minors during the playoffs to observe and learn rather than play]. He was a part of the team for the whole playoff run and got a first-hand look at everything, similar to what [defenseman] Jake Muzzin did [during the 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Championship].”

Last season, the 6-1, 207-pound native of Pickering, Ontario scored eleven goals and added 24 assists for 35 points, with a +5 plus/minus rating and 133 penalty minutes in 76 regular season games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.

Like the rest of the Monarchs’ forwards, Andreoff moved from line to line, and from left wing to center quite a bit, the result of other players, such as Pearson, Toffoli and Linden Vey (now with the Vancouver Canucks) being recalled and/or sent back to Manchester.

But Andreoff, who was selected by the Kings in the third round (80th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, was up to that challenge.

“The challenge was good,” said Andreoff. “I’m kind of used to moving around a lot. Sometimes, I’ll play third or fourth line center, other times, I’ll play second line left wing. I did that in junior, in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League), so I’ve been used to accepting that challenge.”

Perhaps most notable, in terms of Andreoff’s development, is that he got more ice time on special teams last season.

“I played a big role in the penalty-kill,” Andreoff noted. “[Now former Monarchs head coach] Mark Morris kept me out there as one of the top guys on the penalty-kill. It was a chance to be out there, and once he trusted me to be out there for the penalty-kill, he gave me a couple of chances on the power play, standing in front and winning those puck battles down low.”

“I thought it was a good year for that,” Andreoff added. “I was getting more confidence, playing on the power play and penalty-kill. My main goal was making sure they could trust me in the defensive zone. [By doing that], they’ll trust me in the offensive zone. It starts with the penalty-kill if you want to play on the power play.”

The knock on Andreoff, ever since he was drafted by the Kings, has been his skating, most notably, his first step, and his work to improve in that area continued this summer.

“I’m working with a skating coach with L.A,” he explained. “I’m doing that three times a week. I’m doing stuff off-ice, too. There’s different workouts that my trainer been doing with me [focusing on his] ‘quick push’ muscle…It can only get better from now.”

Andreoff said that he has made a lot of progress with his skating since he was drafted.

“I find a huge difference in my first step,” said Andreoff. “You have to [be able to skate] nowadays. It’s all about speed and out [of your zone]. You have to keep working on the skating and [trying] to be quicker than everyone else.”

“It’s my first couple of steps, keeping my feet close and tight, being explosive from the hash marks to the blue line, being more aware of what’s going on, being quicker to the puck, stuff like that,” added Andreoff. “The main thing is my quick feet and skating. If I move up to the next level, it’s going to be a lot faster. I have to keep up with them.”

Blake indicated that Andreoff’s skating and quickness have improved and that his issues are mostly mental ones.

“He’s been involved with a skating coach the last couple of years,” said Blake. “It’s not so much technique, or anything. It’s when he stops and starts thinking the game a little. He tends to stand straight up, rather than being athletic, being in that skating stride, and always moving.”

“He’s best when he’s got his jump going,” added Blake. “He’s got to learn that, at this level, he has to have that every single night. There’s no real time out there to pause, early on. You can get away with that in junior when you’re much better than other players.”

“I think he’s made good progress since last year on that. It’s a conscious effort. We’ve gone over tape with him, so it’s been played over in his head many times and I think he’s grasped that now. He’s taking the different steps with a skating coach to prevent that from being a future issue.”

Blake observed that Andreoff’s skating and quickness may be better than anyone realizes.

“The one thing we really preach is being athletic,” Blake noted. “Your shifts are 45 seconds to one minute, max, so be athletic the whole time you’re out there. [When Andreoff doesn’t do that it’s] not as much a technique flaw as it is that you get away with it at a younger age.”

“We worked with Tanner Pearson last year on that throughout [last] season,” Blake added. “We went over video and you could see his progression and him understanding it. By the end of the season, I don’t think anybody would’ve said skating was an issue with Tanner. During the playoffs, you saw what he could do. That’s a similar type situation to Andy’s.”

“A lot of these kids haven’t had to do that. [Pearson] hasn’t had to skate like he does here. He didn’t have to have that pace playing in junior, so you never really know their true pace until you get them in this setting. Then, when you see them, on a day-to-day basis, in practice, and he’s skating alongside guys like [Jeff] Carter and [Anze] Kopitar, he has that pace. It’s just that he never had to do it before. I think Andreoff’s in the same position. He’s practiced enough here and we’ve seen him at that pace.”

Andreoff has also improved his ability to hold onto the puck, an aspect of his game that was also lacking earlier in his career.

“My puck protection and wall play [are aspects of his game that have improved the most since he was drafted],” he noted. “When you’re playing left wing, you have to win every wall battle out there, being explosive from the hash marks to the blue line, getting out there as quickly as possible.”

“I have to make sure that I’m really good at those things,” he added. “I have to keep working on that all summer so I can be the best winger along the walls and so the coach can trust me out there.”

Andreoff has always been a rough, tough, physical player with a mean streak who can drop the gloves when needed. But he isn’t a one-dimensional enforcer.

“He fits in a good way because he’s not just there to be physical,” said Blake. “He’s going to do a lot of other things, and that’s the way [the game] is headed now.”

“He’s played a pro style game,” added Blake. “He’s a big, physical winger. He can play center, at times. Most likely, up here, he’d be playing on the wing to start.”

“I do expect big thing from him this year. I think, [out of all of the Kings’ young prospects], he’s probably the most ready to step in and play. I think you look to see him on the [big club’s] roster early in the season, pushing for a spot.”

As Blake alluded to earlier in this story, Andreoff gained valuable experience as one of the Kings’ Black Aces during their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship.

Like so many of his peers, Andreoff was amazed by the Kings’ ability to come back when it seemed like there was little to no hope of winning.

“[I was impressed with] the way that they never gave up,” he said. “Some games, they’d be down two goals, and in between periods, we’d be chatting up the guys, and then they’d go right back at it in the next period. They really never gave up, no matter what the scores are.”

“In the first series against San Jose, they were down 3-0 [in the series], and they came right back in Game 7, and they won,” he added. “From there, they went to Game 7’s in the second and third series, which was nuts. It was just awesome to be part of that, watching and learning from the all the guys after that games—how they feel about losing—going back to Chicago for Game 7 and what their attitude was like.”

“I learned a lot from that. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had out there.”

The attitude of the Kings despite long odds surprised Andreoff.

“When they lost in Game 6 [against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014 Western Conference Final], I thought everyone would be down,” he noted. “But after the game it was, ‘all right boys. Game 7. Here it is. Stay positive and get right back at it.’ I was surprised about that. “

“Every game, they didn’t quit.” he added. “Every single shift, they were battling. They won most of the battles, maybe three-quarters of the battles, which is what they needed to do to win the Stanley Cup.”

Heading into training camp, given the fact that the Kings must place him on waivers in order to assign him back to Manchester—it is a virtual certainty that he would be claimed by another team—Andreoff appears to have a spot to lose. Despite that, his thoughts lie elsewhere.

“I try not to think about that,” he said. “I’m just going to do the same thing I’ve done every summer—get prepared to try and make the team. Obviously, it’s a numbers game and L.A. is one of the hardest teams to make, so I hope to have a really good camp. Saying that, hopefully, I can stick around. That’ll be a dream come true.”

“All I’m thinking about is making L.A.,” he added. “I haven’t really thought about getting picked up, or anything. I want to be an L.A. King. I don’t want to be anything else.”

Raw Audio Interviews

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

Andy Andreoff (10:08)

Rob Blake (4:31)

Frozen Royalty’s Andy Andreoff Coverage

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


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18 Responses to LA Kings Believe The Time Is Now For Forward Prospect Andy Andreoff

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