Nearly four years removed from NHL Draft weekend, the LA Kings 2017 class is starting to shine through. With Gabe Vilardi and Mikey Anderson already cemented on the team’s NHL roster — and first-year pro Cole Hults just beginning to cut his teeth in the American League — the arrival of Jaret Anderson-Dolan is now front and center.
Originally selected in the second round (41st overall), JAD is a player we’ve been pointing to for several years now as being a future leader on the Kings. And him playing NHL games this season is exactly on track with some of the comments from last year’s LA Kings Prospect Rankings:
Outlook for 2020-21 season and beyond: The current plan calls for JAD to be with the Kings for the 2020-21 season. While he might be caught in an initial numbers crunch on Opening Night that forces him to start the season in Ontario, he should be up quickly as the roster sorts itself out over the first few weeks of the NHL season. He will most likely center the Kings third or fourth line and not see much power play time next season.
Portions of that scouting report are also as relevant today as they were then:
On the offense side of the puck, the Kings 2019-20 roster had a few guys who were placeholders. They were there to allow guys like Anderson-Dolan the time needed to develop properly. He’s ready for the NHL and he’s good enough for the NHL right now, therefore they’ll eventually create a spot for him to be up with the big club.
Until then, JAD has the opportunity to develop into the best version of himself. In the NHL, he’s targeted to be a third line center. Yet, in the AHL, he’s getting more minutes, playing on the power play, etc. Back to Stoll, why was he so effective in the 3C role during LA’s glory years? In part, because he had played higher up the lineup in years prior and developed other areas of his game. Down in the AHL, Anderson-Dolan has been enhancing his skill level, his ability to make plays under duress, his puck-handling, holding and handling the puck in areas he likely wouldn’t be able to do at the next level. He’s adding to the attributes that he’s not necessarily going to use at the next level in a primary way, but he will in a secondary way.
With five points in five NHL games played this season (3G, 2A), JAD looks completely comfortable on the ice and is engaged each shift. It’s something his linemates and the coaching staff have been talking about.
Adding to the overall conversation, Anderson-Dolan recently shared the following thoughts:
On how he’s feeling about his game overall and his line with Trevor Moore and Carl Grundstrom
Feeling good, just happy to be able to help out and contribute to some wins here in the past couple games. It’s exciting, for sure. It seems like we just had that chemistry right off the bat, even though we haven’t played together a ton in the past. We think we didn’t even have one of our better games [Tuesday night], so we’re just looking to keep getting better every game — as a line and as a team, as well — and keep pushing forward here.
On his pass that set up Moore’s goal on Tuesday vs. Minnesota
I just had some some time and space, things kind of just opened up, saw Trevor in a good spot backside there. I was lucky enough to get that pass through and it was a great shot by him to put it in.
On if he’s gaining more confidence with each game
Absolutely. I think that just comes with with being in the lineup more and playing some more minutes than I have in the past couple years here. I just feel a lot more confident every game and I’m just looking to get better here as the season goes on. Just taking it one game at a time, definitely have a long way to go, and have a lot of improvements to make in my game. I have to work on that and keep pushing forward here.
On how his time in the AHL last season helped prepare him for the 2021 NHL season
It was huge for me. Just getting pro hockey experience, getting those games under my belt, and working on my overall game – I think it helped me a lot to make the jump when I’ve gotten my chance here. The AHL is a great league and it pushes guys, it’s very demanding. I’m very grateful for my experience there and I learned a lot to help me when I’ve been up here so far.
On what he’s been doing to prepare for games
Individually, watch my own shifts from the past few games. Then the coaches were showing us clips of the past games against Minnesota to prepare us. They’ve done a great job preparing us and it definitely showed [on Tuesday night]. We locked things down, which we hadn’t done in those first couple games against Minnesota – with one goal and a two goal lead, early in the season. Great job by us to find a way, even with a couple goal lead, to bear down and get a win.
On what the Kings did as a team to put the Wild on their heels pretty early
I think we’ve done a great job of having a lot better starts in the past few games. That’s kind of set the tone, starting with the top line of Kopi and those guys. Winning that first draw and getting in on them, that’s big. In the game’s past, we’ve gotten off to slow starts and we’ve been on our heels. That wears on a team, mentally. To switch that around, then we had all three lines and all four D following up on those guys who started the game.
On what is working for his line right now
Just keeping it simple, playing straight-line hockey. We can all skate, we all have some offense in our games. What’s been giving us success over the past couple games is just putting it behind their d-men, making them turn and working from there. It’s giving us success and allowed us to spend not much time in our d-zone and create a little bit of offense out of that. I think that’s why we’re out there at the end of games, just because we haven’t really been giving up a lot. We’re looking to keep that going and keep improving every game here.
On shifting his mindset to allow for more offense in his game
Honestly, I think that just comes down to execution when I get chances. Having the mindset that I try to have, and being good defensively, I think that will lead to offense. Once I get those chances, just bearing down and executing when they come. I don’t think it’s changing anything in terms of my responsibility, defensively. If you’re not playing in your own end and, so you’re playing in their end, those chances are gonna come. I don’t think the mindset has changed much. Just continue to work on my shot, work on burying my chances, and also my playmaking, as well.
On if wearing a letter in the NHL is one of his professional goals
Of course, I think that’s everyone’s goal. It’s so early, I’m just focusing on staying in the moment and doing the things that have gotten me to the point I’m at right now, and that’s just leading by example and working hard. I think those are the things you can control. Everything else falls pretty closely from that.
On any veterans that he has gotten close with and received input from
All of them of have helped me a lot, and I’m starting to get closer with everyone, but I’ve spent a little more time with [Anze] Kopitar – just building that relationship, learning from him, and watching him every day. It’s been a blessing for me. He’s a guy who leads by example, and I think that’s the most powerful form of leadership. Just watching him and the way he carries himself has been great for me.
More MayorsManor content with JAD:
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com
Lead image via Getty Images / LA Kings
Some quotes may have been slightly edited for brevity and/or clarity.