|Brett Hextall vs. the Kings (photo: CIKIRI)|
During the Kings and Coyotes two-game Rookie Camp tournament last week, Brandon Kozun made the biggest impression on the management group and fans in Los Angeles.
Over on the other side, it was pretty hard not to notice Phoenix center Brett Hextall.
Sure, he’s the son of Kings executive Ron Hextall. However, like the son of any former NHL player who gets drafted, he’s slowly carving his own path and making his own way in the world of hockey.
Selected by the Coyotes in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Hextall signed his first pro contract earlier this year and knows he may still have a ways to go to make it the NHL.
Still, how bad does he want to play in the game tonight vs. the Kings at Staples Center?
“Pretty bad,” said the younger Hextall during a recent conversation.
He went on to share that getting into one of the split-squad games tonight against the Kings, especially the one in LA, was one of his main goals coming into camp this season. And why wouldn’t it be – most boys still want to impress their father, even long after they grow up to be men themselves.
Now 23, he’s left college behind and has his sights set on the next phase in his career. However, he did offer up a few scouting related comments on one of his former teammates at the University of North Dakota – Kings 2010 first round pick, Derek Forbort.
“He’s a good guy. He’s still a little bit immature. But, he has a nice good frame on him and he can skate like the wind,” said Hextall. “At the beginning of last year, he was playing so well for us (UND), he was probably one of our best d-men early in the year – as a freshman. He was bringing guys to him and making a good first pass every time. He’s definitely a good prospect for the Kings and they should be excited about his future.”
As for Hextall’s future, it currently involves rooming with another NCAA player and last year’s Hobey Baker winner (given annually to the best college hockey player), Andy Miele.
On the ice, the two have been lighting it up the past few weeks. Miele had two points (one goal, one assist) in the Rookie Camp Tournament and Hextall had three goals.
Then, last night in Anaheim, Miele picked up three more points (one goal, two assists) and Hextall scored one goal and assisted on another – helping the Coyotes to a 7-4 win over the Ducks.
None of their success is too surprising to Hextall. He feels as older players, playing mostly with junior level kids right now, they should be producing points. But, he also wants to make his presence felt on the physical side too.
“That’s kind of the way I play,” said Hextall. “I want to play in the NHL one day and that’s going to have to be my role – something like a Matt Cooke or Max Talbot or one those little pest guys.”
Fortunately for him, he won’t be running into the “skilled and speedy” Kozun, as he put it. The highly touted Kings prospect traveled to Phoenix with the ‘road’ Kings.
Yet, there is another guy Hextall will get to see for the third time in three weeks though – Jake Muzzin. Of the 6-foot-3 defenseman, Hextall said “He has a bomb of a shot and (we’ll be) trying not to let him get too many off.”
Hextall also has a few other plans for this evening and the balance of camp…
“I plan on being all over guys, bumping guys – with my size, I’m probably not going to hammer anybody or have any huge open ice hits. But, if I can be a pest and stay on guys and stay in their face, that’s where my role is going to be. And that’s why the Coyotes drafted me.”
Even with dear old dad in the house again tonight, look for Hextall to make an impression that extends beyond his family ties.
Rookie Tournament Recap – Game One
Rookie Tournament Recap – Game Two
Full rosters for split-squad games – LA vs Phoenix
Brandon Kozun puts the ball in the Kings court
Cristina G. says