Ontario Reign Coach Mike Stothers on LA Kings LW Prospect Adrian Kempe: “He’s Ahead of the Curve”

LA Kings left wing prospect Adrian Kempe, shown here during a game
with the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — With left wing prospect Michael Mersch having been called up to the Los Angeles Kings for fill-in duty with veteran left wing Kyle Clifford out of the lineup due to an upper body injury, for the time being, Adrian Kempe is now the top left wing prospect playing for the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Ontario Reign.

Kempe, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) of the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, burst onto the scene last season, when he was a late-season addition to the Manchester Monarchs, a team he helped lead to the AHL’s 2015 Calder Cup Championship.

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LA Kings D Prospect Kurtis MacDermid Wants To Be More Than An Enforcer

LA Kings defenseman prospect Kurtis MacDermid (right), shown here during the 2015 Rookie Tournament against
the Arizona Coyotes at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California, September 15, 2015.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — Even though the stereotype of hockey being nothing more than players fighting is still fairly strong among those who are unfamiliar with the game, those who follow it know that the frequency of fisticuffs in games has been on the decline for years and years. In fact, one can go weeks of watching games and never see a single fight.

Years ago, teams had a roster spot for an enforcer, a player whose only real talent was dropping the gloves and trying to clobber the other team’s enforcer. But today, National Hockey League teams cannot afford to reserve a roster spot for a one-dimensional player whose only skill is fighting. Indeed, today’s “enforcer,” if you can call the player that anymore, must be able to play the game.

Enter Los Angeles Kings defenseman prospect Kurtis MacDermid, who is now in his first professional season with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.

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Only A Matter Of Time Now Before LA Kings LW Prospect Michael Mersch Bursts Onto NHL Scene

LA Kings left wing prospect Michael Mersch (left), shown here scoring in overtime of Game 1 of the 2015 Calder Cup Final against the Utica Comets on June 6, 2015, at the Verizon Wireless Center in Manchester, New Hampshire.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

AUDIO/VIDEO: Also includes audio of interviews with Ontario Reign left wing and Los Angeles Kings left wing prospect Michael Mersch and Reign head coach Mike Stothers. Also linked is video of an interview with Kings assistant general manager (and Reign general manager) Rob Blake.


ONTARIO, CA — Borrowing from the various Star Trek television series and motion pictures, the Los Angeles Kings have a power forward-style left wing prospect in their system who was already moving at warp speed towards playing in the National Hockey League.

Last season, you could say that younger player was moving at the low end of the warp speed scale, maybe warp 1 or 2. But with the 2015-16 season just a handful of games old, it is very much apparent that this player has quickly reached top speeds, exceeding warp 9.

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LA Kings D Prospect Nick Ebert Hopes To Solidify Spot With Ontario Reign

LA Kings defenseman prospect Nick Ebert
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With the Ontario Reign’s inaugural training camp now underway, as they look ahead, there has been little talk about what their players achieved last season, when, as the Manchester Monarchs, they won the 2015 Calder Cup Championship.

Indeed, the focus has, as it has usually been, on developing young players for playing in the National Hockey League for their parent club, the Los Angeles Kings, and that was no different for Reign defenseman Nick Ebert, who was selected by the Kings in the seventh round (211th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Last season, his first at the professional level, was a bit of a mixed bag, seeing him score eight goals and add six assists for 14 points, with a +13 plus/minus rating and 18 penalty minutes in 45 regular season games.

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LA Kings Prospect Justin Auger Looking To Build Upon Outstanding First Pro Season

2015 ROOKIE CAMP: Frozen Royalty’s coverage of the Los Angeles Kings 2015 Rookie Camp continues with a look at right wing prospect Justin Auger, who exceeded expectations in an outstanding first season in professional hockey last year.


LA Kings right wing prospect Justin Auger (right), shown here shooting
the puck for the Manchester Monarchs during Game 1 of the
2015 Calder Cup Finals on June 6, 2015.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

EL SEGUNDO, CA — As has been said so often over the decades, professional hockey players are getting bigger, stronger and faster, seemingly every year.

Case in point:right wing prospect Justin Auger, who was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round (103rd overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft.

At 6-7, 227 pounds, one might expect the 21-year-old native of Kitchener, Ontario to be a basketball player. Instead, he’s pushing towards a career in the NHL, and his play last season, his first in professional hockey, earned him some rather high praise from his head coach.

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