This past summer the Kings selected defenseman Alex Lintuniemi in the second round of the NHL Draft. The 6-3, 218 pound native of Helsinki, Finland attended his first NHL training camp in September and his play gave management hope that his future in the organization is promising.
Kings executive Michael Futa talked about Lintuniemi's game leading up to his being drafted by the Kings.
“Alex was a kid that our scout, Christian Ruuttu, was looking at early as well as Chris Byrne, who now scouts for us, who at the time was the GM of the Ottawa 67's (OHL). Two years ago Ottawa had the top pick in the CHL European Draft and we recommended that Ottawa take him,” said Futa.
“At the time he started playing junior hockey he was good but was nowhere near the shape he needed to be in to excel. In the beginning he was heavy and struggled with his game. He was ‘up and down’ with his play, but with his size he could run through opponents; I mean really drive through them and he could make good plays. Looking ahead, knowing that if someday he played for the Kings, he would have to be a defender that can take care of his own zone. His first year of junior was a challenge; his team wasn't that good and not being in the best shape made it a tough adjustment for him.”
At the draft last summer Futa added that they called out Lintuniemi.
“He needed to change his lifestyle as far as a physical commitment to ultimately become a pro. I think after we picked him in the draft he lost about 25 pounds and was involved in a training program in the summer with a couple of our other prospects, Maxim Kitsyn and Valentin Zykov. The three actually lived and trained in Minnesota with fitness expert Jeremy Clark. For Lintuniemi he became leaner and we thought he had an exceptional rookie camp in July.”
As a result of Alex's commitment, he was impressive at Kings training camp this fall.
“In our organization we've had a rush of forwards come in and make significant contributions lately. It seems our best young defenseman are now in the NHL so we're looking to replenish the system on the blue-line. I think everyone in our management and development group was impressed with Alex in training camp. We feel comfortable with the strides he made and we'll continue to monitor him and build his game up. So far this season (his second in junior hockey) he's come along nicely.”
Futa also mentioned that a couple of former NHL defensemen who work for the Kings will be helping Lintuniemi going forward.
“Mike O'Connell and Sean O'Donnell will be spending time helping Alex along. Nelson Emerson, Glen Murray and Mike Donnelly will assist in this regard also. It's also a bonus that we have such a good relationship with the teams in the OHL -- a team like Ottawa will let our staff members actually go on the ice with our prospects and work with them throughout the season.”
Wayne Simmonds, who spent his first three seasons in the NHL with the Kings, is now in season number four with Philadelphia. Selected by the Kings in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the 26 year old Simmonds had a career-high 29 goals and 60 points last season for the Flyers. We caught up with the right-winger earlier this season when the Kings met the Flyers to talk about his break-through season.
“I think the last few years I’ve changed my game up a little,” explained Simmonds. “I'm trying to get to the scoring areas, obviously going to the front of the net and making a living staying there. At the same if you're going to continue to score in this league you have to change it up a little bit, so I'm trying to work on my game coming off the rush, and little things like getting the shot off quicker as well.”
Simmonds also credits veteran center Michal Handzus with helping him learn the game when he first broke in to the NHL in 2008. Handzus played center for the Kings when Wayne was a rookie.
“Zeus really helped me when I started out. He would always remind me of the right way to play and be responsible on the defensive end of things. One of the best parts of Michal’s game when you play with him is that he always is supporting the puck carrier. I always felt I had an ‘out’ with him as my line mate.”
Simmonds was dealt with Brayden Schenn back in the summer of 2011 in a deal that saw the Kings land veteran center Mike Richards. Schenn, like Simmonds, had his best year in the NHL last season, netting a career-high 20 goals and 41 points. Schenn was a Kings first round choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick amended his excellent career record in the month of October with a solid start to the 2014-15 season. Quick posted a 5-2-2 mark in October (including a five-game winning streak). The Milford, Ct., native now has a 34-11-5 in October since breaking in as the club's top goalie seven seasons ago. The record translates to a .730 points percentage...When Jeff Carter was acquired by the Kings in 2012 from Columbus, he was added to provide offense. Through his first 200 games as a King (regular season and playoffs) he has netted 83 goals, more than anyone else on the team in this time frame...Carolina forward Elias Lindholm scored the game-winner against the Kings when the clubs met back in early November (a 3-2 Hurricanes win). Lindholm is in his second season in the NHL after being selected in the first round by Carolina in the 2013 NHL Draft. Elias has ties to the Kings as his father, Mikael, played briefly for the Kings in the 1989-90 season. Mikael played in 18 NHL games, all with the Kings, scoring two goals and four points...Two former Kings prospects began the season on NHL rosters. Linden Vey, a Kings fourth round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, made the Vancouver roster after an impressive pre-season. Vey was traded to the Canucks for a second round choice in the 2014 draft this past summer. Brandon Kozun, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, began the season with Toronto. Kozun had been in the Kings organization for four years. He was dealt to the Leafs in January of 2014 for Andrew Crescenzi. Unfortunately Kozun injured an ankle at the start of the season and missed significant time because of the injury...There are three rookie NHL coaches in 2014-15. Willie Desjardins took over for John Tortorella in Vancouver. In Carolina, meanwhile, Bill Peters replaced Kirk Muller and in Pittsburgh, former Kings Associate Coach Mike Johnston replaced former Kings winger Dan Bylsma. Desjardins was coaching in the Dallas organization before his hire, Peters had been an assistant coach in Detroit for three seasons and Johnston had spent the past six seasons as coach and general manager of the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL. Johnston worked for the Kings under Marc Crawford for two seasons beginning in 2006.
In his 34th season with the club, Nick Nickson calls Kings games on the radio with Daryl Evans on new flagship station Talkradio 790 KABC and along the Kings Radio Network. Following most home games, join Nick and Daryl for “Kings Talk” at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE (live remote takes place in The Mixing Room – fans are encouraged to attend). To participate by phone, call 800-ABC-KABC (800-222-5222).