Saturday night’s game is being marketed by the host Ontario Reign using a Dia De Los Muertos theme. In stark contrast, this will be a new beginning for Kings prospect Andre Lee. Originally selected by LA at the 2019 NHL Draft, he’s yet to make his ‘official’ debut as a pro player – at least while being on a pro contract. After completing his third successful campaign with UMass-Lowell last season, he skated in 11 games for the Reign on a tryout contract. This year marks the first of his two-year Entry Level Contract and tonight will be Game 1 of that journey.
Lee had 28 points in 34 college games last season. More notably, his 16 goals were often timely, leading to tying the game or serving as game winners. Standing 6-foot-5 (minimum), he has soft hands around the net and moves well for a big man. We have a more detailed scouting report on the Swedish forward here.
With Rasmus Kupari called up to play for the Kings tonight, coach Marco Sturm is getting a good taste of life as an NHL coach for this one — time to go to the whiteboard and get creative with his line combinations.
After playing with fellow Kings prospect Sammy Helenius for several games at the end of last season, Lee is expected to slide into the lineup tonight alongside veteran Nate Thompson. After playing three games with Ontario earlier in the month, he’s sat out the past few contests and is hungry to show Sturm what he has to offer beyond the ‘high character guy’ tagline that has followed him throughout his career.
Meanwhile, versatile forward Akil Thomas will be filling in for Kupari at 2C. This also means Sammy Helenius will get a bump up, moving from 4C to 3C. Projected to be a bottom-six forward in the NHL – perhaps as early as next season – the extra responsibilities being thrust upon Helenius so soon supports the progress he’s making in Ontario as a first-year player in North America.
Even with all the boxes filled in, replacing Kupari’s offense may prove to be a bigger challenge. Not only has he scored in three of the past four games, he’s also been plus-5 over that same stretch. If Sturm is looking for a positive thread heading into Saturday night, look no further than Sammy Fagemo.
Tonight’s opponent will be the Bakersfield Condors, a team that has served to be a real nemesis to Ontario for several years now, and the only blemish on Sturm’s 5-1 record this season.
In that lone loss to the Condors, it was Fagemo who provided both Reign goals. In fact, each of them tied the game, before they eventually fell 3-2 to the Oilers farm team back on October 16.
One other tidbit to pass along, Kings prospect Alex Turcotte has been taking practice with the team. No timetable has been set for his return just yet.
Alex Turcotte getting his reps in today… pic.twitter.com/QxtYurAADN
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) October 28, 2022
On the Condors side, Phillip Broberg is expected to make his AHL season debut. Selected eighth overall by Edmonton at the 2019 NHL Draft, Broberg had 23 points in 31 games with Bakersfield last year. He spilt time between both leagues, also getting into 23 contests with the Oilers.
ONTARIO REIGN PROJECTED LINEUP vs. BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
Andersson – Tynan – Fagemo
Quine – Thomas – Ward
Dudas – Helenius – Madden
Lee – Thompson – Wagner
Björnfot – Spence
Moverare – Grans
Bisson – Gaunce
Game scratches: Allard, Doty, Inamoto, Nousiainen
Injury / Illness: Chromiak
Unavailable: Turcotte (see here for further update)
Puck drop is scheduled for 6pm PST tonight and the game can be viewed on AHL TV.
Lead Photo via Daniel Stopani
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