|Corey Elkins is this week's LAKings.com Prospect of the Week.
It's an issue that has been present for much of the season, a topic that has been hashed and rehashed a number of times.
The problem: the Manchester Monarchs have had to overcome seemingly continuous turnover. Whether its been key players going down with injuries or players being called up to the Los Angeles Kings, the Monarchs roster has been forced to undergo a plethora of changes.
Yet despite all of that, players have stepped up their game and filled holes in the roster, a large part of how the Monarchs have been able to maintain the top spot in the Atlantic Division with a record of 27-14-7.
The latest example: center Corey Elkins.
The first-year professional notched a team-high four points last week for the Monarchs and has been named LAKings.coms Prospect of the Week.
In just his first season with the Monarchs after signing with the Kings as a free agent on March 31, 2009, Elkins leads the team in points (34) and goals (16), and ranks second in assists with 18.
"It's been exciting to be a part of it," Elkins said. "When certain guys go down with injury or go up to the Kings it provides more ice time. It's been a good opportunity."
Prior to signing with the Kings, Elkins spent three years at Ohio State. Elkins said the transition from the college game to the professional level has been a significant one.
"Everybody's better," Elkins said. "There's more passing, more plays are being made, mistakes become magnified."
Elkins added that this season has been a process of learning the timing of the game in the AHL and learning how to think quicker on the ice.
"I'm figuring out what I can bring to the table," Elkins said.
Los Angeles Kings Director of Player Development, Nelson Emerson, said that there is an adjustment period that all young players go through.
Yet with Elkins, that learning curve has happened tremendously fast.
"He's been thrown into the professional level," Emerson said. "It takes everybody a little bit to adjust to the professional level, but he's been a very fast learner. He's taken what the coaches have told him and he's processed it. His strides are happening really fast."
Earlier this season Elkins was called up to the Kings for three games. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 15 against the Edmonton Oilers, and scored his first career goal in a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Dec. 17. That time spent at the NHL was significant for Elkins development, Emerson said.
"One of the big things for him is that he's had a chance to play in the NHL," Emerson said. "For his confidence, playing games at that level helped him."
In the summer, Elkins participated in his first training camp with the Kings and said that he approached the camp with a very simple mentality.
"Coming from the college game to the professional level, I wanted to show that I had some grit to my game and show what I had to offer," Elkins said. "It being my first training camp I didn't know what to expect. I just wanted to learn as much as I could."
Elkins said that he is continuing to work on making better decisions faster and being able to play at the high tempo which is played at the professional. Yet he emphasized that there are facets in which he feels he plays at a high-level, most notably helping out in the defensive zone and killing penalties. This season, the Monarchs are 170-of-196 on the penalty kill, an 86.7% rate, something Elkins said he is real proud of.
Emerson noted Elkins production offensively, particularly on the power play, as a result of his solid play in the defensive zone.
"It all starts because he is sound defensively," Emerson said.
When Elkins came to training camp in the summer, Emerson was struck by his determination, on and off the ice.
"He's going to do whatever it takes to be a pro."