LOS ANGELES — Many who follow the National Hockey League know all the current players on their favorite team’s roster, as well as the top draft picks throughout that team’s system.
But once you get past their first and second round draft selections, the rest of their young prospects generally fly way, way under the radar.
Along those lines, for those who follow the Los Angeles Kings, the name, “David Kolomatis” is likely to be a head scratcher.
Nevertheless, the Kings’ fifth round pick (126th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft has quietly moved up the organizational depth chart. In fact, it appears that he has even moved past highly touted, 2007 first round pick (fourth overall) Thomas Hickey.
“I’m just a hard-working guy,” the 23-year-old defenseman said during an exclusive interview with Frozen Royalty. “I try to go to the rink with the same attitude every day. I’m not one of the higher draft picks, and flying under the radar is a bit of a good thing. I just take each day and try to approach it the same way, battle to get into the lineup, and try to prove myself.”
“I like to think of myself as a good, first pass defenseman, somebody who can move the puck pretty well, a pretty good skater,” added the 5-11, 196-pound native of Livingston, New Jersey. “I definitely excel at more of the offensive side of things than the defensive side, but I like to think of myself as a complete player.”
Last season, Kolomatis got himself noticed a bit more by scoring five goals and adding 25 assists for thirty points in 58 regular season games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.
“I started [last season] off pretty well,” he explained. “In mid-November, I [suffered] a high ankle sprain, so I was out for a little bit. When I came back, I don’t want to say that I wasn’t the same, but I definitely struggled a bit to get back into the pace of things. Towards the end of it, I felt like I was back to normal, though.”
This season, Kolomatis became one of the Monarchs’ power play quarterbacks, the other being defenseman Slava Voynov, who plays on the team’s top power play unit.
Although he was a healthy scratch in the Monarchs’ first game of the season, Kolomatis is ranked third on the team in scoring (he leads all Manchester defensemen), with three goals and three assists for six points in six games.
“He sat out the first game and was none too happy about it,” Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said during an exclusive interview with Frozen Royalty. “You have to credit him for bouncing back, and having people take notice of his contributions.”
All three of Kolomatis’ goals, along with two of his assists, came on the power play.
“When Kolomatis was healthy, he seemed to have great chemistry in finding [Kings 2012 first round pick, and Monarchs left wing] Tanner [Pearson] in front of the net [on the power play],” said Morris.
Pearson has scored two goals in eight games this season, both coming in the same game, and both scored with the man advantage.
“And they came off the stick of David Kolomatis,” Morris noted.
As Morris indicated, Kolomatis is now out of the lineup due to an injury, one that required surgery on his hand.
The Monarchs declined to comment on the specifics of the injury, nor did they provide an expected timeframe for Kolomatis’ recovery. However, Morris deemed the injury to be “long-term.”
Scratch one power play quarterback for awhile…
“He had a fabulous start, up until his injury,” Morris lamented. “With David out of our lineup, that component of our game has slipped a little bit. We’re hoping to get somebody else to step up in that capacity.”
Perhaps the biggest factor in Kolomatis’ rise was extra dedication to strength and conditioning training this past summer.
“I definitely took that to heart more this past summer than in [previous] summers,” he noted. “I worked pretty hard every summer, but this summer, I really focused on certain aspects, and I think it showed in my fitness testing [at the start of the Monarchs’ 2012 training camp].”
“The main thing was not so much bulking up and getting stronger, but making sure that I was explosive, quick, and able to move around on the ice a lot better,” he added.
Despite that, as a smaller player, his greatest challenge on his way to the NHL is strength.
“Strength is the main factor,” said Kolomatis. “Not being one of the biggest guys on the ice definitely means using my skating to my advantage, but it also means getting stronger, and making sure I’m not getting pushed off the puck.”
Kolomatis also pointed to the need to be a lot more consistent.
“I’m trying to make sure that I’m bringing the same game, night in, and night out,” he indicated. “It gets tough down here, [often] playing three games in three nights. You want to make sure you’re playing just as well on [Sunday afternoon as you do on Friday night].”
An indication that Kolomatis’ added strength, improved skating, and quickness has made a difference is that he was getting time on the penalty-kill before he went down with the hand injury.
“I think that his improved defensive play got him into penalty-killing scenarios, and he’s still working on that aspect of his game,” said Morris. “He’s certainly playing with a lot of jump in his step.”
Raw Audio Interview with David Kolomatis
(7:35; Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
- LA Kings Winger Dwight King Maintaining Positive Attitude With AHL’s Manchester Monarchs
- Is LA Kings Blue Line Prospect Thomas Hickey Sliding Down The Depth Chart?
- Could LA Kings 2012 First Round Pick Tanner Pearson Be Better Than Advertised?
- 2012-13 Will Be A Big Test For Los Angeles Kings Goaltender Prospect Martin Jones
- LA Kings’ Jordan Nolan Honors Family, Community Back Home In Garden River With Stanley Cup
- LA Kings Blue Liner Prospect Jake Muzzin Is Waiting Patiently For His Chance
- Manchester Monarchs RW Tyler Toffoli Is Showing Why He&rsquos The LA Kings’ Top Forward Prospect
- LA Kings LW Prospect Andy Andreoff Is Catching Up To Pace Of The Game In The AHL
- LA Kings Prospect Jean-Francois Berube Is Struggling To Earn #1 Goalie Spot With ECHL’s Ontario Reign
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