LA Kings

The LA Kings wrapped up the 2023 version of the Rookie Faceoff on Monday with a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at City National Arena. They finished the weekend in Vegas going 0-2-1 in the three games.

The winless record should be of no concern. The Kings went into the showcase with more player invites on the roster than in past years and no first-round picks. Also, their opponent’s rosters featured top NHL prospects including William Eklund (SJ 2021 7th overall), Conor Geekie (ARI 2022 11th overall), and Leo Carlsson (ANA 2023 2nd overall).

Even though the team results aren’t what you would like to see, these games are usually meant for individual evaluations. And for the Kings, the players many expected to shine did just that.

Three Stars for LA

Jacob Ingham (2018 6th round pick)

The MVP of the Rookie Faceoff for the LA Kings was easily goaltender Jacob Ingham. Missing all of last season due to back surgery from an injury in last year’s rookie showcase, Ingham is coming into this year with something to prove. And so far so good.

Ingham appeared in the first two games for the Kings. He stopped all 29 shots against in game one before being pulled midway through the second period.

Then had another solid performance in game two allowing only one goal during a 5-on-3 power play for the Coyotes before he was replaced after the second. We talked with Jacob after his brilliant game one performance and the emotions were riding high.

“I’m really happy and a little emotional right now just thinking about all those long days and hours. Just not knowing how I’ll feel coming back off a major surgery like that. To get the opportunity to start and get the opportunity to play how I know I can, and to have that sense that I can do this again.”

Ingham didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Kings over the summer after his entry-level contract expired but was signed to an AHL contract with the Ontario Reign.

With Pheonix Copley, Cam Talbot, and David Rittich in Australia, Ingham could get a chance to prove himself even more with some preseason action for LA.

Alex Laferriere (2020 3rd round pick)

Alex Laferriere is everything you want in a middle-six winger. He’s physical, plays with pace, and can score. And he showed all those characteristics over the weekend in Las Vegas.

Playing on the top line of head coach Marco Sturm’s squad alongside Andre Lee and Francesco Pinelli, Laferriere was noticeable every shift.

He scored perhaps the biggest goal of the tournament for the Kings while they were down 3-2 with less than two minutes left in game one against the Sharks.

However, I thought his best play of the weekend came earlier in the game when he laid a booming hit on a San Jose player near the red line that brought a bunch of “oohs” from a crowd full of NHL scouts.

Francesco Pinelli (2021 2nd round pick)

Feels like whenever you saw Laferriere on the ice Francesco Pinelli wasn’t too far behind. The two continue to build on a chemistry that has grown since they first donned LA colors together during the Kings’ 2021 development camp.

Pinelli plays a similar game to Laferriere but with a touch more finesse. The 20-year-old center is an excellent stick handler capable of making quick moves to evade defenders and has great playmaking ability. But where Pinelli really excels is the penalty kill.

The first goal of the weekend for the Kings was a shorthanded tally in a play made by Pinelli. “Frankie” stripped a Sharks defender at the blueline, chugged up ice, and fed Andre Lee who made a nice move for the score. All that after they just spent close to a minute killing the penalty. Great effort.

Notable Players

Andre Lee

I was impressed to see Andre Lee come out of the dressing room wearing the “C” for the first game of the weekend. Not only did he show leadership qualities on the ice standing up for teammates, but he managed to score twice as well. He’ll be a player to watch this season with the Reign.

Samuel Helenius

Samuel Helenius was his typical self, throwing his body around, getting into fights, and winning puck battles. He’s a menacing force down the middle. And continues to be on the right development path. He too wore the “C” for the Kings during game two of the tournament.

Jakub Dvorak

I tend to not look into too many negatives during these games, especially for first time players, but there were too many times when I found myself scratching my head at a few decisions Jakub Dvorak made.

It was our first look at the Kings 2023 second-round draft pick. And while there were some positive takeaways including his sneaky quick wrist shot and solid board play, the big defenseman made a number of bad decisions pinching in the zone and struggled in one-on-one situations. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets into some early preseason action.

Martin Chromiak

Coming into his third appearance at the Rookie Faceoff, Martin Chromiak continued to produce. There’s NHL talent in Chromiak, especially with the lethal shot of his. Though, I would like to see him be engaged a little bit more on the ice. I’m hoping we see a little more consistentcy in his play this season for the Ontario Reign.

Quick Hits

Erik Portillo: Struggled over the weekend. He’ll be a project but the raw talent is there.

Cole Krygier: Played a ton of minutes over the first two games. Was a primary leader on the ice for Marco Sturm. He’ll be an important player for the Reign’s blueline.

Angus Booth: Smooth skater. He showed the ability to create plays and wasn’t afraid to jump in the rush.

Koehn Ziemmer: Wrecking ball.

Aatu Jamsen: For weighing only 154 pounds, Jamsen isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas and navigates a crowded neutral zone very well. He had a really nice assist in the final game against Anaheim.

Kim Nousiainen: Like Booth, another smooth skater who found himself as the quarterback for the top power-play unit.


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