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Prospect Report: Rookie Faceoff

Highlights and scouting reviews of the LA Kings top prospects at the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff

by Sheng Peng @Sheng_Peng / LAKings.com

Heralding the beginning of training camp and a brand-new season, the LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Arizona Coyotes, and Colorado Avalanche sent their top prospects to Irvine for the 2019 Anaheim Rookie Faceoff.

The Kings finished the tournament with one win and two losses, beating Colorado 6-1 on September 8, while falling 4-1 to Anaheim on September 7 and 7-3 to San Jose on September 10.

More importantly, the Kings prospects flashed the kind of ability that compelled Chris Peters of ESPN to tab the LA farm system as the second-strongest in the NHL last week. Keep in mind that Alex Turcotte, the organization's consensus top prospect, missed the Rookie Faceoff because he's enrolled at Wisconsin.

"You are looking at one of the best and deepest prospect pools in the entire NHL," Peters wrote. "The Kings seem to have just about every position covered by a handful of prospects with NHL upside."

This is how some of the promising Kings prospects performed in Irvine:


Mikey Anderson

This was the 2019 USA World Juniors captain's first Rookie Faceoff - NCAA players can't participate in these tournaments - and the University of Minnesota-Duluth defenseman acquitted himself well, drawing raves from multiple scouts.

"Mikey Anderson makes plays that win hockey games," Ontario Reign Insider Zach Dooley said. "He's not the kind of guy, that every night, you're going to look at the box score."

Regardless, Anderson showed well on the box score, notching two assists. He was also the only Kings defenseman who played all three Rookie Faceoff games to finish on the positive side of the plus-minus ledger (+1).


Jaret Anderson-Dolan

With five NHL games under his belt, Anderson-Dolan was the Kings prospect with the most NHL experience going into the Rookie Faceoff.

"[Anderson-Dolan] just works, he does everything, he's kind of a coach's dream, just does what he's supposed to do," Rookie Faceoff Head Coach Mike Stothers said of the industrious forward.

Anderson-Dolan finished the tournament with a goal and will be pushing for a full-time spot on the Kings roster this season.

Tweet from @LAKings: Jaret Anderson-Dolan just doin' Jaret Anderson-Dolan things to give the LA Kings a 4-1 lead 😎#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/DJIO1kgSOJ


Tobias Björnfot

The 2019 first-round pick was one of just four Kings defensemen to play all three games of the Rookie Faceoff.

"He's just efficient. He's not flashy, it's not always the end-to-end thing that brings you out of your seat, but you just see the calmness, the awareness that he has on the ice, where everybody is, where he's going to throw his outlet passes," Stothers said.

Impressively, Björnfot debuted as a 17-year-old in the SHL last year and he hopes to increase his professional experience this season.

Tweet from @TheAthleticLA: Which Kings are turning heads at the Rookie Faceoff? @reallisa got some valuable input on Tobias Bjornfot, and how about that goal by Mikey Eyssimont?https://t.co/PqxAMqFSe1


Aidan Dudas

The 2018 fourth-round pick completed the Rookie Faceoff with one goal.

"Though he is listed at just 5-7, Dudas plays with heart and energy that is bigger than his size would suggest," LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen wrote.

"The Owen Sound forward shows no fear going into battles against bigger players and has made his feisty style known, in addition to the skill that saw him score at close to a point-per-game pace in the OHL this past season. Dudas left a positive impression last season in his short cameo with the Reign and has continued to build on that in this seasons Rookie Faceoff."

Tweet from @LAKings: .@AidanDudas puts the LA Kings on the board early with a nice little snipe 👀🙌 pic.twitter.com/bw7yYBWlsF


Sean Durzi

Durzi filled the box score in the Rookie Faceoff, notching an assist, seven penalty minutes, and seven shots.

"The pace of the game is not so much how fast your legs are going, it's how fast you can move pucks and how fast you can think the game," Durzi explained to LA Kings Insider.

Durzi, who came to Los Angeles via the Jake Muzzin trade last spring, also shared the ice with junior teammates Dudas and Markus Phillips.  


Michael Eyssimont

Eyssimont scored perhaps the Kings' most spectacular Rookie Faceoff goal.

"I practiced that shot a lot in the summer, so I'm glad it worked," said Eyssimont.

Tweet from @LAKings: .@MikeyEyssimont did WHAT to make it 5-1? 😳Safe to say all of his teammates thoroughly enjoyed that move 👀#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/dta9EV4qFN

A consistent offensive presence, Eyssimont led the team with two goals and 12 shots in the tournament.

The 23-year-old winger, who scored 10 goals for the Reign last year, will look to build on that figure this season.

Tweet from @LAKings: .@BLizotte46 sets it up, @BillyC0068 gets it on net, and the official scorekeeper tells us that @MikeyEyssimont gets it in to give the LA Kings a 2-1 lead 🤙#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/PGTVxgAsGD


Samuel Fagemo

The 2019 second-round pick was held off the scoresheet at the Rookie Faceoff, though he wasn't without his chances, racking up eight shots.

Impressively, the 19-year-old forward scored 14 goals in the SHL last year. But the rookie tournament's smaller ice, as opposed to Europe's Olympic-sized rinks, was something that Fagemo noticed. 

"I think the biggest difference is the pace," Fagemo told LA Kings Insider. "I think it goes more North and South."

Tweet from @Kingsgifs: Samuel Fagemo makes a move then rings the shot off the post during the 3rd period#LAKings #RookieFaceoff pic.twitter.com/OhAuTQEyIx


Jacob Ingham

The 2018 sixth-round pick made 36 saves on 37 shots to lead the Kings to their only victory in the Rookie Faceoff.

Stothers noted, "I thought Ingham was outstanding for us when we needed him to be."

Ingham has particularly enjoyed working with new Goaltending Development Coach Matt Millar. "He's a really positive guy and working with him is really nice," Ingham said. "Working on specific stuff and fundamentals, you know goals are going to go in and how you deal with it...in practice, if they score but you're doing the function right, he's still happy with that and that's what it's all about, getting those functions down."


Arthur Kaliyev

Kaliyev, who was considered a steal in the second round of the 2019 Draft, netted one goal at the Rookie Faceoff. 

Tweet from @LAKings: We were told that @Arthur_Kaliyev likes scoring goals.Well, he just scored a goal against the @AnaheimDucks at the Rookie Faceoff 🤗 pic.twitter.com/KzJ1pIxJsH


Rasmus Kupari

Like Fagemo, the 2018 first-round pick is more used to playing on an Olympic-sized ice surface.

"You don't have that much time when you get the puck," Kupari said. "Right away, there's a guy on you, trying to [check] you or that kind of stuff...react fast, pass really fast. If you get the puck, you just need to pass right away or get your legs moving, that's the biggest difference between the small rink and large rink."

The highly-skilled Finn forward - Peters ranked him LA's second-best prospect, behind Turcotte - was held off the scoresheet at the Rookie Faceoff, but Stothers liked the 19-year-old's grittiness, especially against an older, more experienced Ducks squad.

"I was really impressed with Kupari, he stood his ground and that's all we're asking," said Stothers.

Tweet from @JFTC_Kings: Rasmus Kupari has been the best King so far in this period. Looks creative and Ducks having trouble getting him off the puck.


Blake Lizotte

Lizotte was arguably the Kings' MVP at the Rookie Faceoff. The 21-year-old college free agent signing from St. Cloud State led the Kings with four assists and five points.

"Lizotte was off the charts good in these three games," Stothers gushed. The 5'7" forward will challenge for a spot in the Kings' opening night line-up.

Tweet from @LAKings: .@Strander717 fires it on net and @BLizotte46 cleans up the rebound to get the LA Kings on the board 🙌#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/B01S4GdCIK


Lucas Pařík

The 2019 third-round pick had a rough start to his Rookie Faceoff, giving up five goals in the first period against the Sharks. In total, Pařík made 20 saves on 27 shots in that game.

But it's all part of acclimation process for the Czech league product.

"It's so much faster [here] than it is in Europe," Pařík told LA Kings Insider. "That's probably the biggest difference between European and U.S. hockey."

Tweet from @lakingsinsider: Rookie notebook! Pa����k gets acclimated, Durzi's pace, Fagemo vs... Dwight King? Photos, too: https://t.co/c4nV32Wvbz


Markus Phillips

Phillips had an under-the-radar Rookie Faceoff, finishing with four shots and a +1.

Considering the Kings' prospect depth, it can be easy to lose sight of the 2017 fourth-round pick, but don't forget that Phillips made the 2019 Canada World Juniors team. That's no small feat for a young defenseman.


Drake Rymsha

It was a quiet performance for the 2017 fifth-round pick in some ways, not so quiet in other ways:

Tweet from @lakingsinsider: Lots of Rymsha talking through this game. Right now learning over the bench and jawing with Bowers; previously did so with Byram. Have been noticing Strand offering his thoughts, as well.

Rymsha tied for the team lead in +/- in the Rookie Faceoff with a +2.

The forward will look to build on last year's pro debut by solidifying a spot on the Reign this fall.


Johan Södergran

The 2018 sixth-round pick finished the Rookie Faceoff with six shots. 

Södergran tied for fourth in the SHL in scoring for under-20 players last season. The 6'3" forward is making the leap to the AHL this season, hoping to make an instant impact in Ontario. 

Tweet from @Felix_Sicard: Arthur Kaliyev and Johan Sodergran both showing some nice puckhandling ability early for LAK. Kings seem to like their big, imposing wingers who can handle


Austin Strand

Strand, signed by the Kings as a free agent in 2017, stuffed the box score during the Rookie Faceoff. 

The 22-year-old topped all Kings defensemen with three points (a goal and two assists) and 12 shots, tacking on a team-leading 12 penalty minutes too. He also captained the Kings in all three games of the tournament.

"I know how Stutts likes things done, so I'm just kind of preaching what he's preaching," Strand indicated.

Strand enjoyed a solid pro debut last year and should be heavily relied on this season in Ontario.

Tweet from @LAKings: .@Strander717 gets another one for the LA Kings 😎#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/6x6IivqzBP


Akil Thomas

The 2018 second-round pick notched a goal and an assist during the Rookie Faceoff.

"Akil, I really liked him," Stothers said. "I think it's a marked improvement over last year's camp, he probably had nowhere to go but up. It's just a different presence that he has about himself both on and off the ice. I think it's real impressive. You can see that he's matured."

Tweet from @LAKings: Beautiful pass by @BLizotte46 Beautiful finish by @AkilThomas2 😎#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/GT5anSf6SV
 

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