EL SEGUNDO, CA — In a 3-2 overtime win at Vancouver on November 25, forward Linden Vey set up the first goal of the game during a two-on-one break, when he drew Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jason Garrison to him, and then passed across to left wing Kyle Clifford, who deked and beat Canucks star goaltender Roberto Luongo on his backhand at 13:50 of the first period.
Selected by the Kings in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the 22-year-old, 6-0, 200-pound native of Wakaw, Saskatchewan has been centering either the fourth line with the Kings, and through ten games, he has contributed five assists, while averaging 13:07 of ice time.
Although Vey’s stint with the Kings can be characterized as, “so far, so good,” don’t expect head coach Darryl Sutter to admit that.
“He played seven-and-a-half minutes at even strength,” said Sutter. “He had trouble in his own zone on just about every shift. But he was good when he had the puck.”
Like virtually all young players, Vey’s play has been a bit inconsistent.
“He’s been up and down,” Sutter said on November 22. “I think his game has dropped off lately. [Right wing prospect] Tyler [Toffoli] is clearly ahead, because he’s played in [NHL] playoff games. He knows a little bit more about what’s going on.”
When asked a more general question about young prospects Tanner Pearson, Toffoli and Vey, Sutter said that each was still teetering on the edge of being in or out of the lineup.
“Those guys are game day, game time decisions,” he said. “They’ve got some work to do. Hopefully, we’re going to start to get a little bit more competition, if we can get healthy in those positions.”
“They got better,” he added, referring to their play at the start of the season with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. “They didn’t have a very good start, and I don’t base that on goals, assists [or] points. You base it on what level, what tempo, what pace they can play at, which would apply to this year, and where they have to play.”
Although it may sound like Sutter isn’t too keen on having the three young players up with the big club, he warned not to read too much into whether they play or not, or how much ice time they get, because whether they are in the lineup or not, they are still learning.
“I’m not going to play one those guys four or five minutes,” he explained. “If they’re going to be here, they’re going to play, or they’re going to watch and learn, like we did with Tyler last year. It doesn’t do any good to put one those guys on the bench for four or five minutes [of ice time]. If they’re going to play, they’re going to play in situations where they can use their abilities. You’re looking to maximize their ability at the level that they’re at.”
“I like having them around because most of them are sponges, and it’s good for them to see and learn,” he elaborated. “It’s different if you don’t have that strong leadership group. If I didn’t trust them, or something like that, it would be different.”
“It’s not the playing part. It’s the experience part, and that’s an experience that’s a good thing for them.”
Despite noting Vey’s ups and downs, Sutter has trusted him enough to play him in all situations.
“The coaches threw me out there in all situations, penalty-kill, power play,” said Vey. “They showed a lot of confidence in [me].”
As Sutter pointed out, defensive zone coverage has been a challenge for Vey, but that aspect of his game is something he is focusing on.
“[My play is] getting better,” Vey noted. “For the most part, I’ve been trying to take care my own end. As a young guy, when you come up here, you want to make sure that you’re defensively responsible, and earn the coaches’ trust. That’s the mindset for me going into games, to take care of my own end.”
“[Kings coaches] just said that it’s a process,” Vey added. “Every game you have to make sure to improve, and it’s a confidence thing to come up from the American league—you’re one of the better [prospects, but] you’ve got to prove yourself every day, and constantly work [on your game].”
In addition to his defensive zone play, Vey indicated that the schedule at the NHL level is taking some getting used to.
“The schedule is so much different,” said Vey. “I think it’s tough. If you look at our schedule, we’ve been playing every second night for the past two weeks. Down in Manchester, you play three games in three nights, but mostly on weekends, and then, you get the week off—five days. There’s a lot of time to rest down there. Here’s [it feels like] there’s no time to rest. You’re constantly playing. That’s the biggest thing I’ve had to adjust to.”
“In Manchester, you have a lot more time to rest,” added Vey. “Here, you play a game, you’ve got practice the next day, and before you know it, you’re playing another game. When you’re flying across the country, it’s tough on your body. You’ve got to make sure to be really disciplined, and make sure you get your rest.”
As a young player on his entry-level contract, Vey does not have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to the minor leagues. As such, he could be assigned back to Manchester once injured forward Trevor Lewis returns to the lineup.
Despite the fact that he could be sent back to Manchester at any time, Vey appears to be keeping himself focused on the right things.
“It’s not something you can control,” he stressed. You focus on what you can control. You keep playing well and whatever happens, happens. It’s not something you want to worry about too much.”
Video Interviews via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
Frozen Royalty’s Linden Vey Coverage
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- LA Kings Forward Prospect Linden Vey Is “A Young Guy With Some Incredible Gifts”
- Pearson, Toffoli, And Vey Are Still Dealing With The Sting Of Not Making LA Kings Roster
- LA Kings Forward Prospect Linden Vey Is On The Right Side of the Puck In Second Season With Manchester Monarchs
- Los Angeles Kings Forward Prospects Brandon Kozun and Linden Vey Face Similar Challenges
- Los Angeles Kings Right Wing Prospect Linden Vey’s Goal Is To Get Out Of The Cold
- Down On The Farm With The Manchester Monarchs: Departures Create Opportunities
- Frozen Royalty Audio: Phoenix Coyotes vs. Los Angeles Kings – Rookie Tournament 2011, Game 2
- Frozen Royalty Audio: 2011 Los Angeles Kings Development Camp – Part 1
- LA Kings 2009 Draft Goes As Planned
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