Viewed by many as somebody who squandered his opportunity to make the NHL, Holloway was originally selected by the Kings in the third round of the 2006 NHL Draft. A skilled winger, he put up 61 points with Manchester in the 2010-11 regular season and went on to finish out the playoffs that year with career post-season totals of 11 goals and 25 points – numbers that still stand as Monarchs records. Then, he was essentially never to be heard from again in North America, opting to go play in Europe instead.
Now, coming off a regular season in which he posted 69 points, Weal, also a third round selection by Los Angeles (2010), has an opportunity to write a little Monarchs history of his own. Currently leading the AHL with 15 points through 10 playoff games, he is already the first player in team history to ever score double-digit goals (10) in a single post-season and he is two points shy of Patrick O’Sullivan (17 points in 2007) for the most points ever by a Manchester player in a single playoff. For his career, Weal has amassed 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 18 post-season games and ranks third on the all-time franchise list, with visions of passing Holloway.
And there is the little matter of his future. Where Weal is looking to separate himself most from any talk of Holloway is at the NHL level. He clearly wants to make the Kings roster next season. However, waivers are part of the problem. If the Kings retain him this summer, and he wasn’t able to make the big club coming out of training camp, Weal would need to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL for the 2015-16 season. That simply isn’t going to happen. Another club would claim him.
Thus, the past two months have almost been a perfect storm of circumstances, with uncertainty surrounding the future of Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll in Los Angeles, combined with Weal’s unbelievable play, he has apparently started to change the discussion. As we first reported last week, there is a growing appetite for moving him from center to wing for next year.
In part-two of our latest interview with the much talked-about forward, he talked about changing positions, numbers, making a statement, and more – take a look…
Weal on the Monarchs scoring in the opening minutes of games seven times now in their first 10 playoffs games:
“It’s always been a staple of our game, to make sure we’re going for a full 60 minutes. Right at that first puck drop, we have to be going. It’s kind of worked out that way, a couple of times. You never know when you’re chances are going to happen, but it seems like we’re getting a lot of chances early on in the games and it’s great that we’re executing those chances because having a lead that early in the playoffs is really nice.”
On rookie Michael Mersch leading all rookies in AHL playoff scoring:
“He’s playing awesome. He definitely went through the whole rookie thing. It’s tough your first half of the year. He definitely had his trials and tribulations that first half .I think right after Christmas, he turned the page and found his confidence. He’s a guy that goes hard to the net, he doesn’t move. When you have skilled guys, like we have, and you have a guy that goes to the net like that, that’s a recipe for success. If we get that puck there, we know Mersch is going to be around there to bang it in. He’s been a beast this last half of the season and the playoffs.”
On developing chemistry with Mersch:
“He’s a guy that likes to stay on the ice long after practice. I think I find myself out there with him quite a bit; where we’re messing around on a couple of things, working on things together. Through hard work and stuff like that, you get to learn what guys’ tendencies are. I think that’s helped. I also think our whole team; when we get to the rink, I’ve never seen a team that works it like we do. But, when we’re away from the rink, we really put that away and get to know each other on a social basis.”
On his personal hot streak thus far in the playoffs, scoring 10 goals in 10 games:
“I’m just trying to keep my game as consistent as possible. You go to the same spots all year and, sometimes, when you’re doing the right thing, it’s not going to work; but, eventually it’s going to come around. I think that’s what’s starting to happen. I’m playing with some great players and you just have to go to the net when you’re playing with those good players. Pucks will find you.”
On if not getting to play during his late-season NHL call-up has been a motivating factor during the playoffs:
“It definitely gave me a little rest, that’s for sure. Not having to play [with the Monarchs] that weekend… In the [AHL], there are a lot of three-in-threes, and those can really wear down on you. When I came back after that weekend in Los Angeles, I definitely felt refreshed that last weekend of the year and I think that really helped a lot, to be honest.”
On if he is trying to make a statement in these playoffs:
“I’m trying to win. We have a great group here and I think we have a lot of good players. We all have the same goal; we’re trying to do something special here. We know we can and we believe we can. I am not on a personal vendetta or anything, just trying to win. We know we can do it. We have four lines and six D, and two goalies that are playing great right now. We just have to keep it going, because if we can pull off a win here, it will be a pretty awesome feeling.”
On the possibility of moving to wing, rather than playing center [under consideration by Kings management]:
“In Regina [playing junior hockey in the WHL], I didn’t really play at wing because we had a lot of good wingers, but not as much depth down the middle; so I was playing a lot of center. Then, here, it’s been mostly center. But, when I was younger, I used to play a lot of wing when I was in bantam and stuff. I played with guys like Jaden Schwartz from St. Louis. We’d always play together and he’d go down the middle. It’s a pretty natural changeover for a centerman to go to wing. I’d say it’s a little easier, because as a winger, it’s a different kind of energy system – you kind of wait, wait, wait, and explode. You need to use that quick burst of energy. I’m definitely used to playing on the wing, that’s for sure.”
On if playing wing at this point would be an adjustment, though, given all the work he and the Kings development staff have put into him being a center:
“I don’t think so. I think it would just be a couple of practices, maybe a game, to get used to those wall battles, because you’re definitely making different plays coming out of the zone. After that, I don’t think it would be too bad. It’s one of those things, when you go from wing to center, you’re not used to playing all that down low play in the defensive zone, which can be tiring. But, when you go from center to wing, it’s more of a ‘smarts’ game, you have to keep your head on a swivel, know where that D is at all times, and I think that just takes a good couple of skates to get used to.”
On being listed at 5-foot-10, about the same height as Mike Richards, who played in Manchester this season… Truth time; who is taller?
“That’s a good question. It’s pretty close. I’d say it’s very close. We never did the back-to-back thing. I’d say maybe I’m a centimeter smaller, maybe.”
In part one of the interview with Weal, linked below for your reference, he dished on several of his Monarchs teammates and fellow Kings prospects. If you missed it over the weekend, it’s definitely worth checking out.
3 MUST-READ WEAL ARTICLES:
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