Tobias Rieder Brings “Upper Level” Speed To LA Kings

EL SEGUNDO, CA — For newly-acquired forward Tobias Rieder, the last 24 hours or so has been quite the whirlwind after he was acquired by the Los Angeles Kings on February 21, along with goaltender Scott Wedgewood, from the Arizona Coyotes, in exchange for goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

“The last few hours have been really exciting, meeting a bunch of great guys,” he said. “I’m just happy to be here and push for the playoffs.”

“The Kings are a well-known organization that you always look up to,” he added.

Rieder, 25, who was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round (114th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, played in 58 games this season with the Coyotes, scoring eight goals and tallying eleven assists for 19 points, with a -11 plus/minus rating and six penalty minutes.

In 292 NHL regular season games, all with the Coyotes, Rieder has scored 51 goals and has added 60 assists for 111 points, with a -59 plus/minus rating and 36 penalty minutes.

“I got a call from [Coyotes President of Hockey Operations and General Manager] John Chayka yesterday, around 4:00 or 5:00 PM,” said the 5-11, 188-pound native of Landshut, Germany. “As soon as I found out that I was going to the Kings, I was really excited. I’m still really excited. From there, everything went pretty quick. I had to pack my stuff, and I flew out last night.”

“[After he spoke with Chayka] everything went pretty quick,” added Rieder. “I had to pack my stuff, [fly] out last night and now I’m here,” he said. “I actually brought a lot. I brought two suitcases. A shout-out to my girlfriend, [Laura]. She did a great job packing. We got that done pretty quick and obviously, had to leave the same night.”

Rieder doesn’t know a lot of his new teammates, but he does know captain Anze Kopitar.

“I played with Kopi at the [2016] World Cup, playing for Team Europe,” he noted. “I’ve played against a bunch of guys in the [Ontario Hockey League during three seasons with the Kitchener Rangers], so I kind of know a [lot] of them. But most of the faces are pretty new. I’m trying to get to know them.”

“Every time we played against each other, we had a quick chat,” he added. “[The World Cup] was a good bonding experience, and I’m really happy that I get to play with [Kopitar] again.”

Rieder will bring more speed, along with two-way play, to the Kings bottom six.

“I was talking to him last night and said he has probably played his best games against us,” said head coach John Stevens. “But he’s still a young kid who plays the game with a lot of speed. There’s guys who are fast, and then there’s guys who are kind of in the upper level, and I think he would be a guy who really carries a lot of speed at an upper level and thinks the game well.”

“I did hear from some of his former coaches after we made the deal, and they just raved about him as a kid, and his 200-foot game,” added Stevens. “That’s kind of what we know about him. He’s been a mid-teens scorer a few times, so we think the addition of his speed and responsible game will be good for us.”

“We’ve been playing against him for years,” said defenseman Alec Martinez. “He’s a really tough guy to play against. He’s got a lot of speed, he’s burned us a few times. It’s nice to have him on this side of things.”

The addition of Rieder also gives Stevens more options on either wing.

“I think he’s probably more comfortable on left wing, but he’s played both,” he observed. “So, I do think he gives you some options there, but I think the fact that he comes into your lineup as a responsible guy—he has killed penalties before, he has [provided] secondary scoring to the teams he has been on, and he carries a lot of speed, so he definitely makes us a deeper group up front.”

“If you look at the lineup with the schedule right now, you’re not going to get by with twelve [forwards] and six [defensemen]. You’re going to need depth up front. You’re going to need depth on the back end, and you need two goalies to play, so we’re going to try and utilize everybody.”

Stevens also noted that it’s not easy for players traded during the season, like Rieder, or for their new teams.

“First and foremost, you want to get to know him,” he said. “I think the relationship with trust is probably the first hurdle you need to cross. He needs to trust us, and we need to trust him to get to know him a little bit—make sure he gets settled here in the area so that you get rid of any distractions.”

“There’s a lot that goes on for these players when they’re forced to change cities and change organizations, and then from that point on, we want to give him the information in terms of style of play and expectations,” he added. “But at the same time, you don’t want him thinking too much, and he becomes a hesitant player, so it was kind of good today. We had a pre-scout on Dallas, and a lot of that has to do with us. Then, we’ll sit down with him and go over all three zones, and make sure he doesn’t have any questions.”

In spite of all that, Rieder isn’t a wet-behind the-ears rookie.

“He has played long enough, and he has played against us long enough, that we’re not trying to re-invent the wheel,” Stevens noted. “I think we have a good fundamental foundation with how we want to play, and I think he understands that.”

“I think he has a good fundamental foundation, as a player, so I think the transition for him should be pretty easy.”

LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings newly-acquired forward Tobias Rieder. Photo: Gann Matsuda/

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