Gann Matsuda On The Hockey Writers: Jake Muzzin A Surprise On Los Angeles Kings’ Opening Night Roster

EL SEGUNDO, CA AND LAS VEGAS, NV — As the Los Angeles Kings emerged from their 2010 training camp and exhibition season, conventional wisdom was that, with veteran defenseman Matt Greene on the shelf as he recovers from shoulder surgery, one young defenseman would make the Kings’ 2010-11 opening night roster.

All eyes were on highly-touted blue liner Thomas Hickey, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (fourth overall) in the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft, and was a fairly heavy favorite to make the big club’s roster.

But Hickey’s bubble, at least for the time being, burst on October 1, when he was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.

That left defenseman prospect Jake Muzzin, 20, on the Kings’ roster as the chosen one, at least until Greene returns to action.

Hickey spent the 2009-10 season with the Monarchs, but missed most of the season due to injury. At the same time, Muzzin played a full season with the Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League and then played for the Monarchs, recording as assist in one regular season game, along with a goal and three assists for four points in 13 playoff games.

The difference in ice time helped give the 6-2, 216-pound native of Woodstock, Ontario an edge, and that showed during training camp.

“[Muzzin is] just a little bit better player right now,” said Kings head coach Terry Murray. “There’s nothing to be said that’s negative about Hickey. I loved what his summer was, his work. He’s competed at a pretty good level—a big improvement in that area.”

“Muzzin has come in and put in the same work as Hickey,” added Murray following his team’s 3-2 pre-season win over the Colorado Avalanche at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on October 3. “His size is a factor, his skating, his shot is a factor on the back end of the second power play.”

The time spent with the Monarchs late last season gave Muzzin a boost in terms of being familiar with the Kings…

To read the full story, click on: Jake Muzzin A Surprise On Los Angeles Kings’ Opening Night Roster.

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