If you’re into long-shot and underdog stories, then Kurtis MacDermid is your guy.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman went from playing all of nine games his rookie year in the OHL to being passed over by every NHL team at the 2012 Draft. And why not, nobody knew he was and had hardly see him play.
However, that didn’t stop the Kings from inviting him to Development Camp last summer. In fact, they were so impressed with what they saw, he was signed to a three-year entry level contract in September.
Understand, those contracts don’t get doled out very easily either. For example, GM Dean Lombardi didn’t even sign two of his own picks from the 2011 Draft – including LA’s top selection that year, goaltender Christopher Gibson.
MacDermid confirmed what the Kings saw in him though, playing in 65 games for Owen Sound this past season.
His return to camp this year should have a different feel too it, as he’s now a full-fledged Kings prospect and not one of the few invited guests.
Here are seven questions with the towering defenseman…
What was the goal coming into camp last year?
“I got invited, but I was pretty happy and surprised at the same time. I was just going to go to camp and work my hardest and try to learn as much as possible. I wasn’t thinking at all of a contract, that came as a total surprise to me. I just went to work my hardest and do my best out there. I didn’t really have any pressure because I only played nine games the year before due to injury. So, I just went to camp just for the experience and it was perfect the way it worked out.”
What about this time around, safe to assume the mindset is a little different?
“For sure. Last year I wasn’t really sure of what to expect, but this year I’ve already had a summer under my belt of coming to LA. I know what to expect and what’s going to happen. It’s put my mind at ease a little bit more, but I’m still a bit nervous coming in – just trying to prove myself even more this year, because there probably weren’t too many expectations of me then. This year, I have to prove myself a little bit more to make sure that they made the right decision. It’ll be good though.”
When you came back to LA as part of the ‘Black Aces’ in May, you guys went to some of the Kings home playoff games. What was that experience like for you?
“It was unreal. Just the atmosphere and how loud the crowd got. Just the whole thing, it was unreal.”
Had you been to any other NHL games prior to that or those Kings game were your first?”
“I’ve probably been to around eight or ten other NHL games, mainly Leafs games and then a few on some trips down to Florida. I went to see Tampa Bay a couple of times.”
Which current or former NHL player do you admire the most?
“When I was down in LA I saw Matt Greene playing live for the first time. I just love the way he plays. He’s physical and has a big presence factor. He’s really good at simple plays too. That’s just the type of guy I want to play like.”
From the two trips you’ve made to LA previously, which other prospect(s) have you bonded with the most away from the rink?
“Probably (Andy) Andreoff and (Scott) Sabourin, we’ve gotten along well. Same with (Derek) Forbort, they’re all really nice guys. They were pretty welcoming to me when I came there both times, so it will be good to see them again.”
What’s the key area in your game you’re still looking to improve upon and how’s the weight doing these days, any increase from the 205lbs you were listed at last time around?
“I’d say it’s my skating (that still needs to improve). I’m a taller guy, bigger guy, so that’s always something I need to work on. Being still young and big, it’s still a bit awkward for me sometimes. So any development I can achieve with my skating, it’s always a huge help…I’m a bit heavier than 205 now, I’d say around 210 maybe. I was able to pack on a little bit more muscle. I think that will be my weight for next season as well. I don’t want to get too much heavier than that.”
We still have plenty more to come with several other Kings prospects. In the meantime, for a loo at the complete Development Camp roster and schedule, click here.