“He’s a special kid, and since he signed with us, we’ve felt he was a kid who gives us another swing in the skill and speed area,” said assistant general manager Michael Futa. “He had a great college career, and he presented himself so well to [Director of Amateur Scouting] Mark Yanetti, [amateur scout] Tony Gasperini and [amateur scout] Teddy Belisle throughout [last season]. They were all over us about this being a guy who we had to go after.”
“He was strictly an undrafted kid who had an incredible college career,” added Futa. “He gave himself the opportunity to pick his landing spot. Our crew did an incredible job of just being honest with him about, not only what we do, development-wise, but also the opportunity that’s here for him, with his speed and skill.”
“He clearly bought into what we were selling with regards to opportunity and development. He’s had an amazing summer, and every chance our development group has had to spend time with him, he’s just continued to impress.”
As Futa alluded to, the 23-year-old, 6-0, 185-pound native of Eden, New York was signed as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017. He played four seasons with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, helping lead them to the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four, where the Bulldogs lost in the championship game to Denver University, 3-2, on April 8.
Fast forward three weeks, and Iafallo has made such a strong impression that he is expected to make the Kings opening night roster.
“It’s going well, so far,” he said. “I’m just working hard every day. That’s been my mindset throughout the whole camp. I’m going to keep doing that, and whatever happens, I’ll be prepared for it. So far, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve had a lot of fun.”
“[I’m holding up well against National Hockey League competition],” he added, following the Kings 1-0 pre-season win over the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center on September 30. “I’ve played three [pre-season] games now. We finally won at home. It was awesome out there, and playing with these guys is such a huge honor. It’s such a great experience. I know it’s only the pre-season, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
While trying make the jump from college to the NHL, Iafallo still has more than a few things to learn, and adjustments to make.
“They’re a lot stronger than in college,” he observed. “A lot faster, too, so I’ve got to use my speed to find the soft areas to get the puck, try to [create] more scoring opportunities, and score more goals. [I have to] keep playing and [pay attention to] the small plays, get used to the systems, get more shots on the net, and find the soft areas up top.”
In the game against Anaheim, his third contest of the pre-season, Iafallo indicated that it was his best of the pre-season.
“I feel like I had more possession, and I felt more comfortable out there,” he noted. “It was my third game, my line mates were always getting open, and they gave me much better support. I felt good out there. I’ve just got to get more scoring chances.”
Iafallo has turned heads since rookie camp in mid-September, and has continued to impress.
“I think he’s been excellent,” said head coach John Stevens after the game against Anaheim. “Every game I’ve seen him play, it just seems like he’s been around the puck, he’s on the puck, he hunts the puck, and he got a really well-rounded, 200-foot game. Even tonight, we moved him around a little bit, and I thought every time he was on the ice, something good was happening for us.”
“He’s very responsible, and he’s got a very dynamic component to his game where he can make things happen, offensively,” added Stevens. “He may have been a surprise because we didn’t know what he could do at this level. But he’s been a pleasant surprise.”
Iafallo has to feel good about his immediate future, and as reported earlier, he is expected to start the new season on the Kings opening night roster. But playing at Staples Center for the first time felt good, too.
“I just kinda smiled when I got out there,” he beamed, following the game against Anaheim. “Tt’s what I worked all summer for. Just being part of this organization, and getting a chance to play at Staples Center is definitely an honor. It felt great to be out there.”
“That was pretty fun, but I’m having fun at all times,” he added. “The OT win was fun, but playing at home was pretty cool, too.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings rookie forward Alex Iafallo. Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net.
Frozen Royalty’s Alex Iafallo Coverage
- Alex Iafallo Seems To Be A Shoo-In To Make LA Kings Opening Night Roster
- LA Kings Assistant GM Michael Futa On Alex Iafallo: “He Gives Us Another Swing in the Skill and Speed Area”
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