Ontario Reign’s First Season In AHL Deemed A “Rousing Success” – Part 2

Left wing Adrian Kempe is just one of several LA Kings prospects
developing their skills with the AHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — As previously reported in Part 1 of this story on June 16, moving their American Hockey League affiliate more than 3,000 miles from Manchester, New Hampshire to Ontario, California was a great success in many ways for the Los Angeles Kings.

But more specifically, about one year later, it is clear that the greatest, most positive impact for them has been how the move west has affected the development of their young prospects—preparing them to become National Hockey League players.

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Kevin Gravel Is Moving Up The LA Kings Depth Chart Fast

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

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — One thing that has been virtually automatic with Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter is that he is a negative feedback kind of guy when it comes to talking about young players.

Indeed, Sutter chooses to tear them down rather than sing their praises, as his way of motivating them. In fact, he has stuck to this method of motivating his young charges so much that when he does say anything even remotely positive about a young player, it comes as a shock.

As such, when Sutter recently offered praise of defenseman prospect Kevin Gravel, who was recalled from the American Hockey League’s Ontario Reign on February 11, without hesitation, shock and astonishment ensued.

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LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi Dishes On The Trade Deadline

LA Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi speaking to the media during the on-ice celebration after the Kings won the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship at Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 13, 2014.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES — The 2016 National Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone, and perhaps a bit surprisingly, outside of a minor league trade in which they acquired forward Brett Sutter from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward prospect Scott Sabourin, the Los Angeles Kings remained on the sidelines on deadline day, February 29.

“We were pretty much done yesterday,” Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi said during a media conference call. “Once we got the defenseman, the only other thing we were looking at was obviously, with [left wing Marian] Gaborik out, looking for the experienced player who can play in your top six. I talked to a lot of people today, but I didn’t anticipate anything, and it didn’t surprise me.”

As Lombardi alluded to, he had already been quite busy, acquiring veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi on February 26 and forward Kris Versteeg on February 28. Those trades were preceded by the acquisitions of center Vincent Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn on January 6.

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LA Kings RW Prospect Scott Sabourin Is Falling Short of Expectations

Los Angeles Kings right wing prospect Scott Sabourin, shown here playing for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography”

ONTARIO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — Back in the late summer of 2013, a big, burly right wing came out of nowhere to turn heads during the Los Angeles Kings’ rookie camp and rookie tournament. In fact, in a rookie game against the then-Phoenix Coyotes, this player, not known for skating, speed or skill, took a breakout pass in stride, split two Coyotes defenders at the far blue line and went in on a breakaway. He didn’t score—his wrist shot barely missed the top left corner of the net. Nevertheless, he left just about everyone in attendance with jaws agape.

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Off-Season Work Is Producing Big-Time Results For LA Kings D Drew Doughty

LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (right) receives instruction from associate head coach John Stevens (left).
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty enjoyed his best year, in terms of goals, assists and points, in 2009-10, his second National Hockey League season, when he scored 16 goals and contributed 43 assists for 59 points, with a +20 plus/minus rating and 54 penalty minutes.

This season, the All-Star defenseman has played in 48 games, scoring nine goals and adding 18 assists for 27 points, with a +15 plus/minus rating and 36 penalty minutes.

Those numbers put Doughty on pace to score 15 goals and tally 31 assists for 46 points this season, matching his point total last season. But even though he had better offensive numbers back in 2009-10, if he continues on pace, 2015-16 could turn out to be the finest regular season offensive performance of his career, to date.

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