Los Angeles Kings Forward Prospect Oscar Moller: About To Take A Big Step?

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Two seasons ago, forward prospect Oscar Moller made the Los Angeles Kings’ roster out of training camp and after putting in some effective minutes where he showed a good scoring touch, it appeared that he could be on his way to solidifying a spot at the National Hockey League level.

Fast forward to 2010 and Moller now finds himself just trying to make the Kings roster.

The 5-10, 186-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden started the 2009-09 season with the Kings and showed some ability to finish right from the start, including his first multi-goal game in the NHL against Calgary on November 1, 2008.

Moller, who played in forty NHL games that season, also captained Sweden’s team in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships, but suffered a fractured clavicle during the tournament, forcing him out of the Kings’ lineup upon his return to the NHL.

For all intents and purposes, that injury finished Moller’s season.

Last fall, Moller, 21, was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate, to start the 2009-10 season, a demotion of sorts. He played in 43 regular season games with the Monarchs, scoring 15 goals and adding 18 assists for 33 points with twenty penalty minutes.

Moller also scored two goals and tallied five assists for seven points in 16 AHL playoff games as the Monarchs advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“The first year, when I made the [Kings], the team wasn’t as good as it was this year,” said Moller, who was selected by the Kings in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. “Then I got hurt at Christmas my first year and I didn’t really make the lineup after I came back from injury. The year after, I didn’t make the team out of training camp.”

“It was tough,” added Moller. “It sucks to get sent down after playing up pretty much all year. But that’s the business, I guess.”

Like any player with NHL aspirations, Moller was disappointed that he failed to make the Kings roster last season. But he did not mope around or sulk. Rather, he went right back to work.

“You just have to make the most of it and see all the positive things,” Moller emphasized.

“[Playing with the Monarchs] developed me more,” Moller added. “I want to be a skilled player, a fast player, but not be afraid to go into the dirty areas. I want to have a good, all-around game.”

The 2009-10 Kings were an improved team heading into the that season, limiting Moller’s chances to make the roster.

“The Kings were way better last year than the year before that,” Moller noted. “From my perspective. It was better for me to develop [in Manchester], playing important minutes and being put in important situations. I had a lot of good experiences down there at Manchester.”

Most notable among those good experiences was a long playoff run that advanced Moller’s development, and not just in terms of his hockey skills.

“It was the first time for me, having a real long [playoff] run for a team,” Moller explained. “I’ve been in important games before, with two World Junior teams. But this is different. Those tournaments are only six games. Now we’re playing twenty games. It’s a long stretch of important games.”

“You really get together as a team and you can really understand how important it is to do the little things right,” Moller elaborated. “That’s usually the things that are going to cost you a goal or get you a goal. Simple turnovers, placing the puck in the right areas, managing the clock—all those key things.”

After a year with the Monarchs [and a couple of brief stints with the Kings last season], Moller feels that he has improved.

“I thought I played really good down in Manchester,” he said. “We had a lot of fun there. I feel faster and stronger out there, a little bit more controlled. But I still need to work on that.”

“It’s only July, so I have a couple more months to improve a little bit,” he added.

Indeed, Moller participated in the Kings annual Development Camp for their young prospects back in July, honing his skills and working with the Kings strength and conditioning staff.

“With Oscar, it’s a matter of getting physically stronger, trying to develop that half-step, getting a little more quickness off the mark,” said Kings head coach Terry Murray. “That’s coming. That’s starting to show. [The development camp] is only going to benefit him and his career.”’

“Coming here this summer, it’s good for me,” said Moller. “It’s a lot of things I know I need to work on. Doing all the skill stuff is a lot of fun, too.”

Moller stood out among the prospects, but not only because he was one of the most skilled players on the ice. It was the maturity and leadership qualities he displayed that was most noticeable.

“Oscar’s got a great attitude,” Murray noted. “There’s no questioning what he brings in that area—character, attitude, work ethic. He sets a great example on the ice in practice, in the games and off the ice.”

“When the young guys went to Livonia [Michigan] for the skills sessions, he’s was taking the lead in all the drills with a smile on his face,” added Murray.

Has Moller developed enough to make the Kings’ 2010-11 opening night roster? As of this writing, there are some holes in the lineup he could fit into, with the exception of the first-line winger spot. He could also be dangled out there as trade bait to help fill that roster spot. To be sure, Moller’s future with the Kings is likely to take a pretty big step in the next couple of months, one way or the other.

Raw Audio Interview with Oscar Moller (unedited; 7:15):

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11 thoughts on “Los Angeles Kings Forward Prospect Oscar Moller: About To Take A Big Step?

Add yours

  1. I’m a bit concerned that no matter what his attitude or skill set is, he’s still going to get knocked around like a rag doll. Another 10 pounds would go a long way.

  2. It’s a bit of a pity that the Kings were so thin at forward two years ago and Moller was able to play himself into a roster spot. That started the clock ticking on his ELC, and also created higher expectations. Had he been sent back to junior and then progressed to Manchester I think fans would view him more as a rising star instead of a guy who is a question mark to make it in the NHL.

    I think that he still needs to mature physically to be able to be an impact player in the NHL, because his frame is pretty small. Also, contrary to popular opinion his skating isn’t great, especially for a guy his size. He needs to get some more explosiveness in those first two strides to gain an advantage in the NHL. It really wouldn’t be a waste if he split time with Manchester this coming season if he’s not physically ready and he needs more time for his strength to catch up to his skills.

    What he does have is a really good shot, a fearless attitude, and a level head (although I wish he’d keep it up more to avoid those massive hits). It’s not surprising that he’s worn the C for teams. I hope the Kings don’t trade for Kaberle because you know Moller would be headed to Toronto – Burke is a big fan of Moller’s dating back to Moller’s days in Chilliwack.

  3. I asked some bloggers from the Manchester area about Moller and they said one thing that surprised them is that he’s really strong for his size, and ultra competitive, and very much improved. I don’t think he’s going to get much bigger since that’s been the knock on him ever since we drafted him. Consistency is the key. St louis isn’t that big. But he’s still a threat, same with Moller. I hope we can find permanent space for him this season, so that we can witness him take that next step together.

  4. Unfortunately, I don’t see where Moller fits with the Kings on this roster. There appears to be a 2nd line wing opening which I currently see Parse playing, absent any further roster moves. It’s possible Moller takes some of Parse’s minutes. But otherwise I see him on the 4th line with Richardson and Clune for now (that also assumes that Clifford doesn’t win that 4th line spot.)

    I agree with Mark that Moller needs better acceleration to progress as a scorer. It didn’t seem like he was able to generate his own offense. As it stood last year, Moller’s offensive stats with the Kings were very similar to Purcell’s. The good news is that Moller plays like someone on the bubble, and I have no doubt that his work ethic will keep him in the mix. He is a nice player to have in the system in the event Williams or Smyth get injured again.

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