LA Kings Are Looking To Exorcise Their Demons From The 2015-16 Season

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here during an October 2016 practice at the
Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — With opening night for their 2016-17 National Hockey League season upon them, the Los Angeles Kings would like to exorcise their demons from last season by forgetting all about the way they played down the stretch.

Indeed, the Kings flew through much of the season, leading the Pacific Division for a long, long time. But not only did they blow a 14-point lead in the standings, once they clinched a playoff berth after a win over the Boston Bruins at Staples Center in Los Angeles on March 19, 2016, they went into the tank the rest of the way. In fact, they struggled to a poor 4-6-1 record in the final eleven games of the regular season. To make matters worse, three of those wins came against Pacific Division bottom-dwellers, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, with the fourth win coming against a disinterested Anaheim Ducks team that had already clinched the Pacific Division title.

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Jeff Zatkoff Has Come Full Circle With LA Kings

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, shown here during
their 2016 Training Camp at the Toyota Sports Center
in El Segundo, California.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — For Los Angeles Kings faithful, if the name “Jeff Zatkoff” doesn’t ring a bell, beyond the fact that he played for the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, it should.

Indeed, Zatkoff got his start in professional hockey with the Kings, who selected him in the third round (74th overall) of the 2006 National Hockey League Entry Draft. But that was also the year that they selected goaltender Jonathan Bernier in the first round (11th overall), and one year prior, they selected Jonathan Quick in the third round (72nd overall).

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Simplicity Is Key For LA Kings Defenseman Prospect Derek Forbort

LA Kings defenseman prospect Derek Forbort
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — The 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft was a deep one, with a vast majority of the first round picks making to the NHL to stay.

But the same cannot be said for the 15th overall pick in that draft, Los Angeles Kings defenseman prospect Derek Forbort, who played 14 games with the Kings last season, but was a healthy scratch more often that not.

Back in June 2010, with the draft held at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi referred to Forbort as a “project.”

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Michael Amadio Could Be A Gem In The Making For LA Kings

Ontario Reign center and Los Angeles Kings prospect Michael Amadio, shown here in Game 4 of the second round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs against the San Diego Gulls at Valley View Casino Center on May 13, 2016
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Vince Rappleyea/Courtesy Ontario Reign

LOS ANGELES — When center prospect Michael Amadio was called up from the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League late last season, he went from playing more than thirty minutes per game in the OHL to fourth line minutes with the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.

Indeed, after scoring 50 goals and adding 48 assists for 98 points with a +30 plus/minus rating last season for North Bay, Amadio found himself stuck on the Reign’s fourth line in the first round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs. But that changed quickly.

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LA Kings RW Prospect Justin Auger Could Be A Future 3rd Line Upgrade

Ontario Reign right wing and Los Angeles Kings prospect Justin Auger, shown here in Game 1 of the second round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs against the San Diego Gulls at Citizens Business Bank Arena on May 5, 2016
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — At 6-7, 229 pounds, Justin Auger is not the kind of player who one would, at first blush, think of as anything more than a checking forward. But the 22-year-old native of Kitchener, Ontario already has a Calder Cup Championship (2014-15 season with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs, now the Kings’ ECHL affiliate) and a 19-goal campaign with the AHL’s Ontario Reign last season.

19 goals for a checking forward? As it turns out, the development of the Kings’ fourth round pick (103rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has been, in a word, remarkable.

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