Day 2, Insiders!
For some people looking behind the glass of the Toyota Sports Performance Center, it was their first day at development camp 2022. Speaking from personal experience, it is. For everyone on the ice and those in the locker room, it was the conclusion of day two, capped off with an afternoon scrum, after position-based sessions in the morning. The group is set for the same schedule tomorrow, with practice only on Thursday, followed by a day at the beach and a Friday morning scrum to wrap up the week.
One of the unique features of the development camp is that it brings together players from different leagues, ages and skills. Arthur Kaliyev, who played in 80 of 82 NHL games last season, can skate alongside Kenny Connors, who was drafted by the Kings less than a week ago.
“You can’t immediately try to get the size and strength that they have, but you want to try to understand the little things that they do,” said Connors, who learned from guys like Kaliyev and Quinton Byfield. “Pick up pucks off the walls, how they shoot, just little things they do that you can try to emulate a bit.
Today’s scrum saw, by my tally, two goals per team, from four different goalscorers. Two goals were scored by draft picks, Samuel Helenius (Grey) and Jared Wright (White) finding the back of the net. Helenius buried a point shot from the slot on a flat from second-round pick Jack Hughes, while Wright took a pass from Andre Lee and converted on a breakaway. Camp guests Bennet Rossmy (Gray) and James Stefan (White) also scored during the event. Rossmy’s tally was a slam dunk on a cross pass from the very active Aatu Jamsen, while Kim Nousiainen made the extra pass to Stefan, who got his shot to go from inside the circles.
Catch up with some players after today’s skate, for some impressions of the week so far.
As noted above, this season’s development camp involves a bit more experience than the last time the Kings held a large-scale event like this in 2019. One such player is Tobias Bjornfot , who has spent most of the past two seasons at the NHL level with the Kings.
Bjornfot was a regular for most of the campaign, but a late-season injury disrupted his rhythm a bit and Bjornfot found himself on the outside during the seven-game series against Edmonton. He learned a lot from that experience, however, with his first taste of the playoffs, even as a spectator.
“It’s a different game between the regular season and the playoffs,” he said of the differences in playoff hockey. “I have to play harder and be ready to play in those games, those times.”
He said he’s spent his offseason mostly in Sweden so far, training both on and off the ice, with the goal of hitting those metrics. He trains on and off the ice, having fun in between.
“I work on my strength and [improving] my weaknesses,” Bjornfot said of his offseason so far. “Watching videos and working hard in the gym.”
We’re going to dive deeper this week into the role players like Bjornfot play this week, as a leader and mentor to some of the younger players, in addition to their own desire to use this week to get reps and improve.
To end for today, however, Bjornfot expressed his enthusiasm for his teammate last season, Alex Edler, who re-signed earlier today.
“Yeah, Eddy was great last season,” he said. “It’s good for the team and it’s good for us young defenders to have him back.
Different draft days
Although they were both selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 2022 NHL Draft, it was a very different day for Angus Booth and Kenny Connors. Okay, one thing was the same: both players slept in their own beds that night. The difference was that Booth’s home is in Montreal, where he watched the draft in his own backyard, while Connors learned of his selection from home, where he celebrated with his family.
For Booth, the Montreal native, the event was a surreal experience. One of those “star alignment” moments, coming from the right player, in the right draft, in the right year.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for better,” he said. “To my hometown, my family, my friends and also coming home afterwards and lying in my own bed is always nice. Overall it was an amazing atmosphere and I couldn’t have asked for more.
For Connors, his experience was also special in its own way. It was a dream come true for the young striker, something he looked forward to all his life.
The Dubuque Fighting Saints forward spent the day with his family and noted that it was special that he was able to experience this moment with his grandparents.
“I was at home with my family,” he said. “It was pretty cool, especially being with my family, my grandparents were there, it’s just something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, something I’ve been dreaming about. It was pretty cool.
Both players are now in their first LA Kings development camp, looking to make an impression with a large group of Kings prospects in attendance this week.
Beef is what’s for dinner
More on Booth, who is now four days into his tenure as a member of the Kings organization. An assessment of his style, in his own words.
“I think I play a simple two-way game,” he said of his own game. “With guys at this elite level, I try to keep it simple, but I think once that I’ll get used to the game and the speed, I think I can make some great plays.”
We talked about Bjornfot’s role as a veteran and he mentioned Booth as someone he took notice of during day one. The two played together a bit during positioning drills and the afternoon scrum, with the Swede noticing his partner.
“I played a bit with Booth last night, I like his game, he was pretty good there,” Bjornfot said. “He’s a bit defensive and he’s a bit like me [as a player].”
Booth hadn’t been to Los Angeles – or California for that matter – before camp this week, nor had he attended an event like this. He is no stranger to high-level competition, however, having appeared in the 2022 Memorial Cup, arguably the club’s highest junior event on the planet, something he has called a great experience and something he learned at 17. -retired player.
Now, however, he is fully focused on the three days ahead of him, having fun every step of the way.
“Everyone here is amazing, the staff and the facilities, LA is a great place,” he concluded. “It’s been amazing so far and there are three days left. I’m really looking forward to them.
Tomorrow’s format will be the same as today – positional sessions in the morning, scrum in the afternoon. It’s also the first day of unrestricted free agency and while the Kings aren’t overflowing cap space, like they were on this day last summer when they signed Phillip Danault, Alex Edler and Andreas Athanasiou for a combined cap of $11.7 million, they have plenty of room to make a hard-hitting move if they want to, with team toughness and a different skill set on the left side of the backend, two areas that could be interesting. Until then, Insiders!