|Jake Muzzin, LA Kings (photo: Kasey Spatz)|
Sure, nobody won a job or lost a job with the Los Angeles Kings due to their performance at this week’s development camp.
However, the annual showcase allows Kings’ coaches and management an opportunity to evaluate the on and off ice skill sets of their top prospects.
And when it comes to the team’s blueline, they appear to have a depth unmatched in their franchise history.
In fact, part of the reason they were able to trade former first round draft pick Colten Teubert to Edmonton in the Dustin Penner deal was the emergence of two other defensive prospects, Jake Muzzin and Nic Deslauriers (and after all, doesn’t everything seem to come back to Penner these days?).
When Muzzin is at his best, he brings a physical element to the ice – something he briefly spoke about during camp this week.
Further, Deslauriers continues to round out that part of his game as well, while simultaneously improving his offensive numbers.
Even with the defensive group in LA pretty much set (Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson, Willie Mitchell, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene and Alec Martinez), the Kings still have a pretty deep pipeline, with guys like Muzzin, Deslauriers, Thomas Hickey, Andrew Campbell, Derek Forbort and Kevin Gravel – just to name a few.
For specific comments on the performance of Muzzin and Deslauriers this week, we turn to Kings Coach Terry Murray, who shared the following:
On Muzzin, who played 11 games in the NHL this season (with one assist) and 45 games in the AHL (3g, 15a) – “Well, just looking at Jake first of all, he’s more mature. You can see the growth in his appearance. I think the time that he had here (in Los Angeles) at the start of the year last season is always a good thing for a young guy like that. It really gives a lot of confidence. He might have not went down to Manchester and taken a hold of things the way I would have liked to have seen him – in the sense that you’re going to try to be the best guy on the ice every night. But, I think that’s part of the experience you go through. He’s going to be a better player as a result of that. But, he’s definitely come a long way. Here’s a player who we end up signing as a free agent, he plays games for the LA Kings last year, big body guy, big shot. He’s going to contribute in all areas of the game when he finally established himself in the National Hockey League. So, again, the commitment he’s made so far is going to pay off for him.”
On Deslauriers, who helped lead his team to the QMJHL Finals and was tops among Quebec league defensemen in postseason points (5g + 15a = 20 points in 24 games) – “Nic is more under control now. He’s playing the game more with a mentality where he he has a good grasp on what needs to be done and how to play it the right way. To me, that’s the maturity in the emotional part of the game. Sure, physically he’s bigger and stronger, he has a couple summers under his belt now and working out with the program. So, that’s just going to be the natural progression of his game. We have a good prospect there.”
Later, Murray will weigh in with thoughts on what he saw from the goaltenders in camp this week.
I’ll also have full interviews with Muzzin and Deslauriers posted this weekend.