Following two productive seasons with Clarkson University, Sheldon Rempal signed a two-year Entry Level Contract with the Kings back in March after being courted by several NHL teams. After a summer of workouts and preparation, he now stands on the doorstep of possibly reaching his dream.
At 23-years-old, he’s one of the older prospects participating in Rookie Camp this year, yet he comes with high offensive expectations. Having not been able to fully showcase his talents just yet is something several have noted, including Assistant GM Mike Futa, who had this to say during our recent discussion with him:
“We’ve had so many opportunities [this weekend] where guys who have worked hard at scoring — and scored in the past — weren’t in in the right spots and having trouble here. Take one of the leading scorers in college hockey, Sheldon Rempal, and I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you that he was in some spots where he normally pulls the trigger. More often than not, those are going to go in. I think it’s about staying positive, but at the same point, not taking losing lightly.”
Rempal certainly has a shot at making the Kings opening night roster, especially with Gabe Vilardi having ongoing back issues – two concepts we explored in detail here.
With Game 3 vs. the Golden Knights looming, the final contest at this year’s Rookie Faceoff event in Las Vegas, we checked in with Rempal to gather some thoughts on his experience thus far.
Rempal on how he feels he’s fitting in:
“I feel pretty good out on the ice. It’s definitely not easy to come in with a brand new group of players who have never played together before. I think that makes everybody a little nervous; and a lot of these younger guys were just drafted, as well. On the ice, I feel really good. I didn’t think anything was really clicking in the past two games though, which is obviously frustrating. You want to have success right away, [as you’re getting ready] to start the season. But is what it is and just kind of to deal with it.”
On if he spent any time speaking with his center, Akil Thomas, in advance of Game 2, trying to maybe improve the communication on their line:
“We did spend some time talking, just not so much about hockey. I know he was a little bit nervous going into [the first game], so I kind of just – knowing I’m a little older than him, I tried to calm him down a little bit. And I thought we played a little better against the Coyotes. I thought we had a little bit more energy. We actually had the potential to make some good plays but we just weren’t able to get the bounces.”
On coach Stothers saying he felt the team played a more structured game in Game 2:
“I think the coaches did a good job of doing a lot of video with us [between Games 1 and 2], just so guys were a little more aware of what they’re doing wrong and stuff. I think we definitely did make a big improvement really, structure-wise, and it showed.”
On the idea that sometimes in Camp it can be a little bit cliquey, with the college guys sticking together and likewise for the junior players:
“I think the guys have done a pretty good job of meshing right away. I tried to introduce myself to mostly everyone. I think most of the guys here have chatted with basically everyone here, which is which is good to see. I know what you mean, though, when sometimes people stick together. I think we’ve done a good job of avoiding that.”
On what he’s doing to keep his mind off of the fact that he has a legitimate chance (even if perhaps it’s less than 50%) of making the Kings roster and just doing what he needs to do during Camp:
“Making the team was definitely my goal. Being a free agent and selecting LA, that was the goal all along. I had two more years of college eligibility; to come out early, I definitely want to make the leap and jump right into the lineup, rather than playing in the American League first. I think everybody wants to do that. I think going forward, just having a couple more skates and starting to produce a little more, it’s kind of frustrating when you’re held off the scoresheets both nights. I’m a player that likes to make plays and produce points.”
On if seeing what Alex Iafallo was able to do with the Kings after signing a free agent contract with the team had any bearing on his thought process:
“I look up to Alex. He did an awesome job of coming out of college last year and jumping right in; plus I knew when he signed with the Kings he also had a couple other offers, as well. I think it’s just all about how you play; and that’s what’s kind of frustrating. You want to play your best. I thought I played well [in Game 2]. Yet, like I said before, I didn’t produce like the way I wanted to. So it’s frustrating.”
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