As LA Kings Development Camp comes to a close, team prospect Ben Meehan looks back on the week that was and what’s to come.
It was certainly an eventful time in El Segundo this week as the LA Kings wrapped up their annual development camp. This year’s version, however, was a unique one as everyone involved had to wait an extra year given the cancellation of the camp, among other events, in 2020 due to COVID. For Ben Meehan, though, this was his first taste of Kings Development Camp given that he was only drafted by the club last October. His first camp, though, was a huge success.
On Friday, following the fifth and final day of development camp, Meehan spoke to the media about the week that was and how he enjoyed camp overall.
“I had a blast,” beamed the 20-year-old. “Camp was a lot of fun and I really noticed [the] great group of guys this year, which made it easier for me coming, my first time here. But yeah, the scrimmage was great, as well. I thought it was pretty high-paced, and everyone was working hard, so it went well.”
As mentioned, there was a scrimmage, which was a fitting coup-de-gras, if you will, to a great week. But, even though the timeframe was relatively brief, Meehan got to develop some relationships during camp.
“Yeah, it’s interesting, but I also knew Braden Doyle, as well, from before camp, which made it easy,” the blueliner noted. “Then, all the D-men were super nice and there’s a lot of guys in the same boat as me coming here for the first time. Everyone was was super nice and it worked out really well. Great group of guys.”
In 2019-20, Meehan suited up for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL before returning to his home state of Massachusetts this past year to play for UMass-Lowell. The slowdown of COVID didn’t seem to faze the defenseman and neither did the jump to the NCAA where he registered eight assists in 17 games as a freshman.
“I just take it year by year and try to keep developing trying to keep getting better,” Meehan pointed out. “But yeah, the USHL was a great league. Obviously, a little bit of a jump to the NCAA, but I think I made the adjustment and hopefully I can do that here in the future.”
Heck, Meehan’s associate coach at Lowell, Andy Jones, was singing the youngster’s praises when I spoke to him last week.
“I’ll give him a lot of credit for [consistently contributing to Lowell’s power play] because one of Ben’s better traits is that he likes to have the puck, and he likes to make a difference,” the UMass Lowell coach observed. “So, when the game’s on the line and the game’s tight, he doesn’t panic. He remains calm with it, and he likes those situations. So, I think he’s going to continue to grow, he’s going to be stronger, he’s going to be relied on to play a significant amount more than he did last year, and we’ll see how he does with those expectations and those additional responsibilities, and I expect him to do really well.”
As he prepares for his sophomore season at Lowell, Meehan touched on what he learned this week in El Segundo and how he’ll use that to improve his play at the collegiate level.
“I think Greener and Sean O’Donnell both did a great job with our group on D this week,” the 20-year-old noted. “One thing we focused on was positioning and just being in the right position defensively. It makes your job a lot easier as the D-man, so I look forward to hopefully doing a good job at that this year.”
If having a promising showing at development camp wasn’t enough, though, the proverbial cherry on top for the Walpole, Mass., native was having his father, Scott, a UMass-Lowell alum himself, in attendance.
“Yeah, my dad got to come out,” Meehan beamed. “He wants to scream and shout. It’s definitely special having him out here. He said he wouldn’t miss it for the world, so that means a lot to me.”
Taken in the fifth round (140th overall) by the Kings in 2020, Ben Meehan wasn’t exactly high on many radars. That, of course, is not indicative of how the young defenseman is as a player and how determined he is to keep getting better. For the Kings, though, like his teammate in Lowell and fellow prospect, Andre Lee, Meehan may be another diamond in the rough, so to speak. Of course, like Lee, we don’t expect to see the 6’0, 190-pound defenseman to be donning the silver-and-black this coming season. That’s okay, though.
With another season — and hopefully a full one, at that — expect to see Ben Meehan elevate his game to a new level when next year’s development camp arrives. Until then, it’s good to enjoy the ride and appreciate the 20-year-old for establishing himself as an instrumental figure in what is already a deep and exciting prospect pool for the LA Kings.