Yesterday we posted the 2013 midseason prospect rankings for the LA Kings organization.
Now, Kings’ VP and Assistant GM Ron Hextall joins us to share some thoughts about two of the defensive players reviewed. One of his key responsibilities is to oversee the Manchester Monarchs roster and he makes regular visits to the East Coast to keep close tabs on the development of the team’s top prospects.
With that in mind, let’s start with Jake Muzzin, who was rated tops among defensemen and third overall. How has his game come along over the last calendar year?
“I think Jake needs to bring more consistency to his game, night in and night out,” said Hextall. “I think that’s the biggest issue, the consistency part. And I think as a young player it’s not totally surprising. But, on the other hand, it’s not his first year out of junior. So, the consistency part is the part he has to get better at – maybe recovering after he makes a mistake; he needs to get a little bit better. But, in terms of the physical package, it’s a darn good package.”
Muzzin’s closest competition in Manchester may have been Thomas Hickey last season. However, with the Islanders claiming him on waivers recently, perhaps more attention will now be given to Nick Deslauriers. He’s gone from being one of the top defensemen in the Quebec junior hockey league two years ago to currently being ranked seventh overall by MayorsManor and third among LA’s blueline prospects.
So, has he closed the gap at all on Muzzin?
“I think Nick has certainly improved this year,” Hextall shared. “He’s taken a big step. Last year he played with a lot of enthusiasm and effort and I think this year he’s still got the enthusiasm and effort, but technically he’s learned to defend better. He’s learned to make better decisions too. He still has some work to do, for sure. But, he’s definitely improved from last year. Has he closed the gap? Probably somewhat.”
If you haven’t read the Top 10 Prospects article yet, click here for full analysis and updates on the best talent currently in the Kings’ pipeline.
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