Kings prospect Kevin Gravel talks potential contract, pro debut

It isn’t often defensive-defenseman receive a lot of fanfare. Under Dean Lombardi’s tenure, the Kings have not developed any of their own, unless you count the departed Davis Drewiske or Peter Harrold.

Kevin Gravel, the fourth rated Kings prospect according to MayorsManor, looks to be the first to change that.

After four seasons at St. Cloud State University, in which the team went to the Frozen Four once and established themselves as a top college program, Gravel signed an amateur tryout with the Manchester Monarchs to close out the season. Despite a strong collegiate career, the defenseman still finds himself without an NHL contract and still fighting to impress the Kings’ brass. Our Manchester correspondent Andy Tonge sat down to chat with Gravel about his college career and the next steps going forward…

On his pro debut Friday night in Manchester:

“I think, as expected, there were some ups and there were some downs. That comes with adjusting to a new team, to a new overall style of play. The pro style is a little bit different from the college style, and you (have) got to get adjusted to the pace and everything. So, umm, there are obviously some things that I would replay differently in my head, but, for a first game, I’ll take it. It takes a little time to adjust, and you need experience. It’ll come.”

On the quick turnaround from flying in to Manchester to playing his first game:

“I actually flew out at 7:30 last night and got into Manchester about 1 a.m. this morning. And then was up here to pregame skate, and just kind of got a little nap in, and came back over to the rink, so it was a quick turnaround. [Reporter: Was fatigue a factor in today’s game?] No, I actually felt pretty good. I’ve been skating in St. Cloud, to kind of keep in shape in case something like this happened, and then last night, I got a call at about 2:30 saying get on a flight at 7:30, and here I am.”

On if it was tough to end his career at St. Cloud State after four years with the program:

“Extremely. I think Dowder [Nic Dowd] will say the same thing, but uhh, you invest so much, and for four years, you grow so close to the community, to the program, and to all your teammates and the guys in your class. They become more than your teammates. You get so close to them, you spend every day with them, all day long. You live with them. Its crushing to see that come to an end so quickly. When you get to the NCAA tournament, the one and done, the game is so emotional in that time period. We came off an emotional win on a Saturday night, and 24 hours later our career at St. Cloud was done, so it’s tough to take. But, happy for the experience.”

On scoring one goal his first three years and then scoring 10 his final year:

“Honestly, I don’t even know. I got put in a few different situations than I had the previous year – I got a little power play time, and a little more minutes. And, um, I don’t know. The majority of my goals were just shots from the point kind of found a way through. You need a bit of luck for that to happen, and I had a little bit of that. Obviously, I know that’s not my role, but when they go in, it feels good.”

On his game-tying goal in the closing seconds versus Miami in the NCHC playoffs:

“We had nine seconds left or something like that, and a shot got blocked and went to the corner. I was standing on the blue line, and just kind of thinking to myself ‘I’m doing no good just standing out here. The puck’s not coming to me.’ I just started skating towards the net, and Dowder, I think it was, threw it on net, and it just popped right to me. The puck was spinning and I was just telling myself to get something on it – don’t swing and miss it. It went off the post and in and it was probably the biggest goal I scored. It was really something to be proud of.”

On if he ever gets sick of having Dowd around, after being teammates for four years, living together, and now joining the Monarchs together:

“I think it makes it easier that you have someone like this to experience it with. Dowder and I have gotten extremely close over the four years. No, I can’t really think of a time where we’ve kind of been like, ‘Hey man, get away from me’. It’s been really good, it’s been a really good relationship over the four years. Hopefully it continues for however long here. It’s been really fun to be with him, and kind of experience it all with him.”

On being a key player in the emergence of St. Cloud as a strong hockey school:

“It’s huge. St. Cloud is such a hockey community. On campus, hockey is such a big thing. To be successful for the last two years, especially our senior year, and to be able to go out with your head held high is something that I know Dowder can say too, something to be extremely proud of. I think that program is definitely trending in the right direction, with the Frozen Four last year, and the regional final this year, and then the two conference championships. It was something cool to be a part of and kind of experience. I know the team should be just as good next year. The coaching staff has got the future going in the right direction, so it’s going to be cool to watch it all play out.”

On if having former World Junior Championship teammate Derek Forbort on the team has helped early on in the transition:

“Absolutely. Forbs is great. Ask him a question here, I sit by him in the locker room too, so he can explain things to me. Obviously, coming into this situation, you don’t know what to expect. It’s helpful. Every time you walk into a situation not knowing anybody, it can be a little nerve racking. Coming in here knowing a few guys makes it, definitely, a little bit easier to just get your feet wet, go out, and play.”

On coming to Manchester on an amateur tryout and not having an NHL contract:

“Pretty much, coming here, they wanted one last look at me. I took the ATO. They said [to] come in here and show that you can make the transition to being a pro, and we’ll go from there. I don’t really know. [I’m] just coming here to work hard, and keep my mouth shut, and try to play well on the ice. Hopefully things work out well for me.”


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  1. November Tango says

    Great article. Good work !!!


  1. […] you missed it, here’s our interview with Gravel, talking his contract status and much more. Filed Under: Interview, Kings, NHL, […]