EL SEGUNDO, CA — Earlier this summer, during the Los Angeles Kings’ annual Development Camp for their young prospects, while the players were out on the ice, trying to make a solid impression on the coaches and scouts, a couple of players were standing on the sidelines due to injury.
For defenseman prospect Colten Teubert, missing out on this opportunity to wow the Kings’ coaches, scouts and front office could easily turn out to be a big step backwards.
This past season, Teubert, 20, put up the best numbers of his career in the Western Hockey League, scoring twelve goals and adding 25 assists for 37 points while racking up 136 penalty minutes in sixty games with the Regina Pats. But there have been rumblings from the Kings that he has not progressed as much as they had hoped since they selected him in the first round (13th overall) of the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The 6-4, 201-pound native of White Rock, British Columbia was drafted fairly high in the first round back in 2008 because of his size, strength and his mean streak, something the Kings have sorely lacked on their blue line in their recent history…and even their not so recent history. The Kings decided he was worth the gamble, even though he was a raw talent who was going to need a good deal of polishing before he could make the jump to the NHL.
Fast forward to the present…from the looks of things, Teubert still needs a lot more polishing, especially in terms of his decision-making and defensive positioning.
Those who have watched Teubert play since he was drafted by the Kings have seen his aggressiveness and his ability to play a tough, physical game. Indeed, he can make the big hit and can drop the gloves with anyone. But the problem is that although he has improved in his decision-making, he still goes for the big hit at the wrong time, taking himself out of defensive position.
Although he still needs to work on that particular problem, Teubert has made some improvement, overall.
“I think I’ve made a lot of progress,” said Teubert. “My first year after being drafted, I really struggled staying consistent. After that, I really settled down into my position.”
“I still have a tons to learn, don’t get me wrong,” added Teubert. “But this year, other than our team not making the playoffs, my success was becoming a leader on the team, really helping out our young guys and improving my game to a place where I’m comfortable to play big minutes—I was playing around 25 minutes a night.”
“That’s the kind of player I want to be. I’m not going to be that power play specialist, but I want to be a player you can count on in the later part of the game and when the going gets tough, I’ll always be there.”
But Teubert admits that he needs to focus on his decision-making, the part of his game that needs the most work.
“I think just [need to focus on] my decision-making,” he said. “With the speed of the game these days, you can’t hold onto anybody, you can’t slash or cross-check in front of the net. Whether it’s my positioning or my first pass, I think that’s what’s going to help me take the next step.
“Physically, I’m getting there,” he added. “But decision-making is one of the main keys. As a defenseman, you can’t always jump into the mix as a young guy, unless you’re really talented like Drew Doughty. You really have to be experienced and mature as a defenseman and I’m really looking forward to getting an opportunity to do that.”
Teubert has exhausted his junior eligibility, so his development will continue in the minor leagues. With the Pats not being a very good team in recent years, they have not qualified for the WHL playoffs the last two seasons. With Teubert available, the Kings took advantage and assigned him to the Ontario Reign, their ECHL affiliate, at the end of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons to keep him playing and get him a feel for the pace of the game at a higher level.
Teubert recorded one assist with ten penalty minutes in eight regular season games with the Reign in 2008-09 and then played in six playoff games, recording one assist and 19 penalty minutes.
This past season, Teubert got into ten regular season games with the Reign, scoring one goal—his first goal as a professional— and adding two assists for three points with ten penalty minutes.
Near the end of Reign’s regular season, Teubert suffered a hand injury…or so he thought.
“There were four games left in the season,” Teubert noted. “I wasn’t sure that I hurt it. I got x-rays, but they came out negative, so I played the rest of the season. I didn’t realize it was broken until about seven weeks later. I was already training.”
When and how he suffered the injury remains a bit of a mystery.
“It could be a combination of things, I’m not quite sure,” said Teubert. “I know I hit a guy and it kind of got crunched—I was hitting one guy and another guy hit that guy at the same time. I was also in a fight near the end of the year. I’m not sure if that made it worse.”
The injury actually turned out to be a wrist injury, one that was not diagnosed properly at the time.
“I broke my scaphoid,” Teubert explained. “It’s a third degree fracture. I just got a screw. It’s been four weeks now. We misdiagnosed it and we had to get the surgery done.”
The wrist injury and resulting surgery place Teubert firmly on the outside looking in when it came to on-ice workouts and scrimmages at the Development Camp this past July, but the camp was not a total loss for him.
“I’ve been cleared to workout,” Teubert stressed. “I’ve been working my lower body and the left side of my body. I’m staying fit and in shape. Hopefully, everything heals well and I’m back to one hundred percent soon.”
“It’s frustrating,” Teubert added. “I haven’t been through this type of adversity in my career yet. I think it’s going to be a challenge for me and really test my mind and my physical training to see how well I can stay conditioned and keep my head in the game.
All of the Kings’s young prospects at the Development Camp worked with Kings’ Strength and Conditioning Coach, Tim Adams. But since he was unable to skate, Teubert spent more time with Adams in the gym.
“I feel good,” said Teubert. “Physically, I’m getting a lot stronger. Tim’s workouts stressed the lunges, and I think my lower body is getting a lot stronger, too, because of the hand injury.
“[I want to] really absorb Tim’s information on training and what he expects for training camp,” added Teubert. “Lots of it is going to be upper body at the fitness testing. But I have the opportunity to focus on my lower body and improve on that.”
Speaking of training camp, Teubert expects to be ready to go by the time the Kings open their 2010 training camp on September 18, 2010.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” said Teubert. “I just saw the doctor today and I’ll have [a cast] on for a bit longer. As long as I do the right things, I think it’ll give me a good opportunity to be healthy for training camp.”
“I’m just hoping I can come into camp in tip-top shape and get an opportunity to show what I can and move into the pro ranks,” added Teubert.
But with Teubert unable to make a strong impression during the Development Camp combined with the slower-than-expected pace of his development, other defenseman prospects in the Kings’ system may be moving ahead of him on the organizational depth chart. Add to that the fact that the Kings selected Derek Forbort, a big, physical defenseman, in the first round of this year’s draft, one begins to wonder how concerned the Kings are about Teubert’s development.
Indeed, Teubert knows he has his work cut out for him and is looking at the situation as a challenge.
“Drafting other players sets a real challenging environment and makes it really competitive to play on this team in the future,” he said. “It’s motivating and challenging.”
“You look at the quality of players they have on defense, with us just drafting a defenseman in the first round, we’re definitely looking to build from the defense first. I think that shows, with the success [the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate] had last year, it just shows that drafting defensemen and having good, solid defense really helps.”
To his credit, Teubert seems to be concerning himself with what he should be focused on.
“[Where I am on the depth chart is] their decision to make,” Teubert noted. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to stay up on top. I know we’re all a team here, but, individually, I want to be the best and I want to play in the NHL one day. I’m going to do whatever it takes to do that.”
Teubert will need to be true to his word about doing whatever it takes in the coming season. Indeed, the time has come for him to show the Kings that he can play a strong positional game on defense, in addition to making the big hit. He is destined to play at Manchester or Ontario in the 2010-11 season, but if he fails to show considerable improvement, he will likely find himself moving way down on the organizational depth chart or even becoming trade bait.
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.