Welcome to the Los Angeles Kings Prospect Update, a weekly feature highlighting a prospect in the Los Angeles Kings system.
The Kings currently own the league rights of 44 players outside of the NHL, including Professional players in Europe, Junior players and players in college. Click here to see the 2008-09 LA Kings Prospect Roster.
This week we are highlighting the accomplishments of Kings prospect Thomas Hickey, currently captain of the WHL Seattle Thunderbirds. Hickey had a breakout week, scoring twice in Seattle’s 7-5 loss to the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 16, the goals coming just 1:19 apart in the final frame. The third period continued to be Hickey’s time to shine as No. 4 (in honor of Bobby Orr) recorded an assist in each of the two Thunderbird wins over the Tri-City Americans on Jan. 17 and the visiting Silvertips on Jan. 18. The 19-year old Calgary, Alberta native now has 24 points (8-16=24) in 31 games, with a plus-16 rating. The Thunderbirds are currently just under .500 and sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with 44 points.
Drafted by the Kings in the first round (4th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Hickey was heralded by Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi as playing “today’s game” and being a part of the Kings promising future.
“Defenseman 10 years ago had to be big and strong and huge and be able to pound players physically,” said Kings Coordinator of Player Development and Systems Integration Nelson Emerson. “What Dean meant by ‘today’s game’ was that with the new rules, players of Thomas’ size are able to use their skills a lot more. So he is going to be able to be a defenseman that goes back and gets pucks, makes plays and plays with quickness, tempo and pace. But he is not going to be held and hooked and crosschecked because the rules don’t allow that anymore. ”
In December Hickey was named Canada’s team captain for the 2009 World Junior Championships, which ran from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Ottawa. Hickey recorded three points (0-3=3), two penalty minutes and five shots on goal in six games as Team Canada went a perfect 6-0 to eventually win the gold medal over Oscar Moller and Team Sweden. Since returning from the 2009 tournament, the 6’-0”, 190-pound defenseman has posted six points (2-4=6) and a plus-3 rating in five games for Seattle. In 2008, as well as being a member of the gold-medal winning Team Canada, along with current Kings Drew Doughty, Wayne Simmonds and Jonathan Bernier, Hickey was named to the 2008 WHL All-Star team. That same year Hickey posted 45 points (11-34=45) in 63 games with Seattle, playing through an ankle injury late in the season.
“The biggest excitement that we have is that Thomas and Colten Teubert were a part of that Canadian team that won the championship, and the fact that they can build off that and what a great accomplishment that is, it is terrific. Moving forward we are very excited that Thomas has gone back to Seattle and played great since he has been back there. Their team has really been challenging to make a good run here at the end of the season and in playoffs, so obviously his win with a gold medal provides excitement for himself, so going back there and getting fired up, bringing that to his team is going to be tremendous. But, like a lot of the other kids, Thomas has got to get bigger and stronger. That is going to help him develop as a pro player. Just maturity is going to help him in general.
“Summer is going to be key for him, his workouts and training are going to make him stronger defensively as a player, his shots harder and it is going to make his adjustment easier to becoming a pro.”
Notable performances were given this week by Los Angeles Kings prospects Jan Marek of the KHL Magnitogorsk Metallurg who tallied four goals and two assists in four games, Scott Parse of the Manchester Monarchs who had two assists in two games and last week’s Prospect of the Week Andrei Loktionov whose contributions this week included a goal and two assists in two games. Lindsay Kramer of NHL.com also wrote a feature on the accomplished, though injury plagued, season of Manchester Monarch Justin Azevedo, profiled here in the Dec. 2 Prospect Update.
Click here for the statistics on all of the Los Angeles Kings 2008-09 Prospects.