LOS ANGELES — Almost from the moment he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (80th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, left wing Andy Andreoff made it clear that he was going to leave his mark, one way or the other.
Shortly after the 2011 draft, Andreoff left several marks during the Kings’ 2011 Development Camp for their young prospects with some chippy play that included dropping the gloves.
“I play with a little edge,” the 6-1, 201-pound native of Pickering, Ontario said at the time.
“I have a little bit of an edge to my game,” Andreoff told Frozen Royalty during an exclusive interview. “Especially in this league, you’ve got to play your role, and [his line is] in a checking role, kind of the energy line. I think we’re doing well, so far.”
Andreoff, who has scored three goals and has contributed two assists for five points, with a -1 plus/minus record, with 34 penalty minutes in 21 regular season games, is adjusting well so far to the move up from the Ontario Hockey League to the AHL.
“It helped out, from last year, playing a couple of regular season games, and playoff games [with the Monarchs],” said Andreoff. “I kind of hopped right into it.”
“When I first started playing [in the AHL] last year, the first couple of games were a bit of a struggle, keeping up with the speed, and the size,” added Andreoff. “As the games [passed], I got more confident with the puck. [His teammates] helped me a lot. They helped me get prepared before the games and practices.”
Speaking of his teammates, it did not take long for Andreoff to make an impression on them.
“[Andreoff] is a pretty big body who can play a rough game,” said Kings left wing Jordan Nolan, who is playing for the Monarchs during the NHL lockout. “He’s always working his hardest. You always know when he’s on the ice. He’s got a few, big goals, too.”
“He’s always around the front of the net, looking to bang one in,” added Nolan. “He’s pretty skilled for a big guy. He’s tough, and he definitely protects his teammates, so he’s a pretty good team player.”
As it goes for most players in their first season in professional hockey, Andreoff has a lot to learn, and much to work on to improve his game.
“We’re trying to improve his quickness off the spot, and his defensive positioning,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “But he’s a rugged kid, and he can play on both sides of the puck. He’s scored some nice goals, and he’s been asked to go out on the penalty-kill from time to time. He’s getting more and more in step with the pace of the game.”
“In the early going, some of the newcomers, [like Andreoff], were able to contribute,” added Morris. “But as the season wears on, a few things start to get exposed, and we’re really working with him, trying to get him to be quicker off the mark.”
Improving on his quickness and the grasping the concept of catching up to the pace of the game at the AHL level is key. After all, as most young players talk about, the players Andreoff is facing now are usually bigger, stronger and/or faster than those he skated against in junior hockey.
“The main thing has been the size,” he stressed. “There’s a lot of size and speed, but there’s also a lot of quick, little guys who are really good. The defensemen are huge—6-4, 6-5, 230 pounds. You’ve got to battle a lot harder. That’s been the main focus for me, being more prepared in the corners, and winning the battles.”
“The main thing for me is puck protection in the corners,” he added. “You have to keep getting better on puck protection, and working with the puck in the corners. It’s key to win every battle down there.”
“I’ve also been working on my quick feet, improving my skating. It’s just improving on those things that’s the main focus for me.”
As Morris mentioned, Andreoff still has some work to do on his defensive positioning.
“I’m learning as the season goes on, game-by-game,” said Andreoff. “I’ve been watching video a lot, seeing how my defensive zone play is.”
With the Monarchs getting hit hard early in the season by the injury bug, Morris has had to shuffle his forward lines and defensive pairings for several weeks.
Andreoff had the luxury of playing with the same line mates for much of his time with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. But now, he is finding the frequent juggling of line combinations to be quite the challenge.
“[What’s been tough is] how much all the lines can change—they can change every game—and how tough the lineup is to crack, with the [NHL] lockout,” Andreoff noted. “There’s a lot of NHL guys [here], like Nolan and [left wing Dwight] King.”
“It’s tough to be ready for that,” Andreoff added. “You don’t know if you’re going to be in the lineup in every game, so you have to work through that. You have to work hard in practice every day.”
Although Andreoff has work to do, Morris is impressed with what he has seen so far, and he indicated that Andreoff has great potential to improve.
“His whole game—he has that edge, and he has that compete [level] and skill to grow his game considerably.”
Off the ice, Andreoff lives with fellow AHL rookie and Kings forward prospect Tanner Pearson, and there appears to be a bit of a debate regarding who the better cook is.
As one might expect, Andreoff claimed that his cuisine reigns supreme. However, his claim appears to be rather dubious, given that Pearson previously told Frozen Royalty that he tends to stick to healthy dishes. Further, Pearson apparently has, at the very least, several dishes in his culinary repertoire, while Andreoff is in a food rut.
“I like cooking steak and green peppers all the time,” Andreoff said, proudly.
Pearson is obviously no culinary savant, but to put it mildly, Andreoff is playing catch up in the kitchen. He certainly has some work to do if he intends to make good on his claim.
Raw Audio Interview with Andy Andreoff
(7:23; Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Frozen Royalty’s Andy Andreoff Coverage
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