Wisconsin coach on LA Prospects Forbort, Gravel and Shore

Earlier this week, Wisconsin assistant coach – and former LA King grinder – Gary Shuchuk joined us to talk about the Kings fourth round selection in this year’s draft, Michael Mersch.

Shuchuk, now an assistant coach at Wisconsin (NCAA), helped oversee Mersch’s development during his just completed freshman season. Among the comments he shared was his belief that the 6-foot-1 prospect is patterned after somebody like Brendan Shanahan. Not bad.

Today, Shuchuk joins us again – this time to talk about three other Kings prospects that his Badgers played recently…

MM: You guys played Denver at the beginning of the season and the Kings just drafted Nick Shore in the third round. Any memories of him when the two schools met up?

GS: He’s a good player. He’s another big forward, a potential power guy. I think he has a lot of upside. He’s probably a better skater than Michael (Mersch) right now. He’s a smooth skater with a lot of power and a good shot. He plays hard, goes in the corners, not afraid to muck it up. He’s good.

MM: Some scouts haven’t been impressed with his skating, but you think he’s OK from what you’ve seen?

GS: I think he’s fine as a skater. Look, some guys might say he’s a choppy skater, but I think he more than gets the job done. He’s at a school where they have a lot of speed demons on that team and he’s fine playing with all those guys. So, I think he’ll be just fine at the next level.

MM: And then Derek Forbort – he was the Kings first round selection last summer.  Any thoughts on him from when you guys played North Dakota?

GS: He’s a good player, no doubt. When we played them here he wasn’t getting much ice time because they had a bunch of guys in front of him. But, I think he’s going to be a pretty big cog for the Sioux going forward. They lost a lot of guys. So, he’ll be a big piece of the puzzle this next season for that team. He’s another good one.

MM: Does he play as big as he is? You’re talking about a kid who’s already 6-foot-5.

GS: To play at North Dakota for coach Dave Hakstol you have to play hard all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5-foot-8 or 6-foot-5, you have to play hard. So, they all play big, they all play hard. They’re a hard physical team. Do that or don’t play. And that’s good for him. He’s getting taught how to play the game from a good coaching staff.

MM: Finally, Kevin Gravel at St. Cloud State…

GS: Another big kid, another big body. The Kings are going for size, that’s for sure. We played them in the second half, up there in St. Cloud. It was a physical game and in fact, he was going against Michael’s line the whole time. There was some good battles out there. He plays hard too. The Kings have some real gems in these guys. They all play hard. And that’s a good thing when you want to make the NHL someday.

Over the next two months there will be plenty more news on all four of the prospects mentioned in this article. They’re all expected to be in Los Angeles in two weeks for the team’s Development Camp. Then, in August, they’ll all participate in Team USA’s evaluation camp for next winter’s World Junior Championship tournament.

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