As the NHL season nears, today marks the first of three games for the LA Kings in the 2023 Rookie Faceoff tournament.

Below is the three-game schedule for the LA Kings:

  • Friday, September 15th, 1 PM vs San Jose
  • Saturday, September 16th, 3:30 PM vs Arizona
  • Monday, September 18th, 12:30 PM vs Anaheim

The Kings will send 27 players to Vegas to compete in this year’s tournament. Of the 27 players, one-third of them will consist of players returning from last year’s tournament. While the roster for this year’s Rookie Faceoff doesn’t feature big names from the past, there are still players to keep an eye on this year.

Let’s take a look at some players to keep an eye on for this year’s tournament:

Martin Chromiak

Martin Chromiak is participating in the Rookie Faceoff tournament for the third straight year and is expected to play in Ontario for the Reign again this season. Chromiak recorded two goals in two games in last year’s tournament, both of which came in a Kings’ 5-4 shootout victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Chromiak has a great shot and is lethal on the power play, which is where I expect him to be utilized during this tournament. In his first season as a professional in North America with the Reign last season, Chromiak recorded 15 goals, and five of them came on the man advantage. Aside from his shooting abilities and quick hands, an area of improvement I’m looking for Chromiak to make is on the defensive end this season. Keep an eye out for his shot and defensive game during this tournament.

Alex Laferriere

Alex Laferriere is a player who has climbed the ranks in the Kings’ pipeline for the last two years. The 6’0″ forward turned professional after his second season at Harvard ended in the Frozen Four tournament. After his season at Harvard ended, Laferriere played in four games for the Reign. While he recorded only one goal, he impressed and got better each game and got rewarded with first-line minutes. There’s a lot to like about Laferriere’s game. He skates well, can shoot, can pass, fights for every puck along the boards, and just has a motor that never turns off. He competes every shift. This is a player you HAVE to keep an eye on during this tournament.

Francesco Pinelli

A second-round draft pick gem by the Kings? Could be. Francesco Pinelli finished his junior career recording 90 points (41 G – 49 A) in 60 games for the Kitchener Rangers and is expected to play in the AHL for the Reign this season. His five short-handed tallies last season were tied for first in the OHL. He showed the complete package for a two-way center. Now, Kings fans who may not have had the opportunity to see Pinelli play will now have the chance to see him these next four days. Having seen Pinelli skate for the first time in person at development camp in July, I was impressed by his quick decision-making and his vision.

Jakub Dvorak

Jakub Dvorak is an 18-year-old left-handed shot defenseman the Kings drafted in the second round this summer. Already signed to his entry-level contract, Dvorak is projected to be playing in the Czech Republic this year. This will be the first time Kings fans will see the 6’5″ defenseman get any game action.

Erik Portillo

Acquired by the Kings from the Buffalo Sabres on March 1st, Erik Portillo is set to play in his first full professional season. In three years at Michigan (NCAA), Portillo compiled a record of 60-22-3 and a save percentage never lower than .908. Standing at 6’6″, Portillo covers a lot of the net and moves well for a goalie his size. It’s a complete contrast from what we saw Jonathan Quick do since 2008 when he took over the net.

Jacob Ingham

Jacob Ingham is one of the nine players returning from last year’s tournament. In two games, Ingham compiled a record of 1-1-0, 2.04 GAA, and a .929 save percentage. Unfortunately, that was the only game action that Ingham saw because an injury forced him to miss all of last season. The 6’5″ netminder will be back with the organization and could see playing time in the ECHL with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. That’s not a bad thing as Ingham lost a year of development and won’t get many starts with Portillo and David Rittich sharing the crease in Ontario. Health and movement will be something to keep an eye on for Ingham this tournament.

The games will be streamed by the LA Kings, so be on the lookout for more information when the game time gets closer.

Featured image credit: Ontario Reign

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