LA Kings Rob Blake on Prospect Brian O’Neill: “Not Big…But He Competes At The Level Of The Big Guys”

LA Kings forward prospect Brian O’Neill (#22 in white), shown here taking a wrist shot in the slot during 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

LOS ANGELES — Last April, when Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Brian O’Neill was named as the 2014-15 recipient of the Les Cunningham Award as the American Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player, if you listened carefully enough, you may have heard people asking, “who?”

Indeed, it was not until this past season that O’Neill began to appear on the radar as a legitimate Kings prospect.

“A lot of that has to do with my age, being a late bloomer, going to college and not being drafted,” said O’Neill. “[He] was a free agent signing. But I’ve been with the Kings for awhile. A lot of the guys they draft they have [been in the minors] for three or four years before they turn pro, and they’re still on everyone’s radar. But everyone advances differently in their career. My path is a little bit unique [compared to] other kids on the team. But L.A. has done a good job of bringing kids along [slowly]. Regardless of your age, they take their time with guys, and they’ve gotten really good results.”

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LA Kings LW Prospect Michael Mersch Is Powering His Way Towards The NHL

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

LOS ANGELES — Don’t look now, folks, but the Los Angeles Kings could have a star power forward in the making down on the farm, and it might not be who you think it is.

“He’s as good as anybody in the American [Hockey] League level, and I don’t know if there’s any better at the National Hockey League level in front of the net,” said assistant general manager Rob Blake. “He’ll stay in there, stay in the battle, and he’s got a touch [for] scoring. You saw that during the season, and it increased at the end of the season, and he was very dominant throughout the playoffs.”

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LA Kings’ Rob Blake On Jordan Weal: “There’s Not A Lot of Players Like That Around”

LA Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal (center, shooting)
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

PROSPECT WATCH: Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal went from a player with loads of doubt on his shoulders due to his size to one who dominated at the American Hockey League level. But will he be able to translate that to the National Hockey League? Audio interviews with Weal and Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake are included. Final installment of a two-part story. Don’t miss Part 1, From Doubts To Dominating: LA Kings F Prospect Jordan Weal Has Risen To The Top Of The AHL.


LOS ANGELES — As reported in the first installment of this story on July 24, Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal has ascended to the top of the American Hockey League as a dominant player who was one of the AHL’s top scorers this past season and its Most Valuable Player during the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs, leading his team, the Manchester Monarchs, to the 2015 Calder Cup Championship.

But the Kings’ third round selection (70th overall) in the 2010 National Hockey League Draft was obviously not chosen to play in the minor leagues. After all, NHL teams do not draft players who have no hope of ever plyaing at the NHL level. Nevertheless, even after three years with the Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate (which will become the AHL’s Ontario Reign in the coming season), as with the vast majority of young prospects, questions abound.

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From Doubts To Dominating: LA Kings F Prospect Jordan Weal Has Risen To The Top Of The AHL

PROSPECT WATCH: Frozen Royalty takes a close look at Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal, who could join the Kings in the coming season. In this story, Weal looked back on his 2014-15 season, including winning the 2015 Calder Cup Championship. Part 1 of a two-part story.


LA Kings forward prospect Jordan Weal
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Blake Gumprecht

LOS ANGELES — When forward Jordan Weal was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (70th overall) of the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the first reaction many observers had regarding the native of North Vancouver, British Columbia was a high degree to skepticism because of his scant, 5-10, 162-pound frame—they were convinced that he would be tossed around like the proverbial rag doll at the professional level.

Since then, Weal spent two more seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (he played an overage year with Regina in 2011-12) before moving up to the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate (which will become the AHL’s Ontario Reign in the 2015-16 season).

Weal went on to play three full seasons with the Monarchs, and like most young prospects coming out of major junior hockey in Canada, he had a lot to learn, and did not get much ice time early in his first season in the AHL.

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LA Kings LW Prospect Maxim Kitsyn: “It’s Just Me. I Have To Be Better…It’s Not Anybody Else”

LA Kings left wing prospect Maxim Kitsyn, shown here
playing for the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — When we last checked in with Los Angeles Kings left wing prospect Maxim Kitsyn in December 2014, his head coach said that “he wills his way, every shift.”

A couple of months later, that hasn’t changed.

“You know [that] when he puts on the uniform, he’s going to give you 110 percent,” said Jason Christie, head coach of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ current ECHL affiliate. “You see him out there—he works, he competes. That’s why he got a call up—because he battles. He’s determined. I think that’s the biggest thing—how determined he is, as a player.”

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