The L.A Kings young guns took to the ice for the 2022 rookie faceoff in San Jose. How did they do? Who impressed? Who didn’t? Let’s recap the three game event and break down what happened and who impressed or didn’t.
In game one the Kings fell just short to the Colorado Avalanche losing 3-2 but a couple Kings were still able to look fantastic.
Taylor Ward, a player who most Kings fans didn’t know before this event, myself included. Really impressed with his love for shooting. Every time he was on the ice he’d either be shooting or asking for the puck so he could shoot it. Ward scored the Kings second goal of the game, on the power-play off a beautiful pass from Brandt Clarke. Clarke recorded two assists in this game and looked great offensively. The defense definitely needs some work but that’s to be expected with an offensive defenseman. Quinton Byfield, although held pointless, was very dominate with his play. From the opening faceoff you could tell he had trained hard over the summer and being healthy had a huge part in that. Francesco Pinelli opened up the scoring for the Kings with a nice tip in goal from guess who, Brandt Clarke. Pinelli was overall very good this event, with some improvements to his positioning and keeping the puck on his stick he could see a job in the NHL within the next three seasons.
In game two the Kings made a great comeback from being down by two goals to forcing an overtime and eventually a shootout to win it 5-4 vs Vegas. Bennet Rossmy is another under the radar name for the Kings in this event would put the Kings on the board with a perfect snipe. Taylor Ward would tie the game up at two a piece with a lucky bounce as he tried to feed a player in front but it ends up going off a Golden Knights player. The Kings would then see themselves down by two again but Martin Chromiak wouldn’t let that slide as he scored both goals for the Kings to tie up the game in the third. Chromiak scored 44 goals in just 60 games in the OHL this past season. His shot is elite and the 5th round pick at just 20 years old has a bright future ahead of him, in my opinion the most underrated Kings prospect. Both of Chromiak’s goals came from his deadly wrist shot.
As the final buzzer rang at the end of the third period Brandt Clarke would take a dirty hit up high that would create a big scrum as he slowly got back up. The Golden Knights were given a five minute major and the Knights player was ejected immediately. Clarke would start the overtime for the Kings on the first power-play line. Although the Kings controlled the play for the entirety of the overtime they couldn’t get one passed the Golden Knights goalie. In the shootout Akil Thomas would score a beautiful goal deking out the Knights tendy, and Brandt Clarke would win the game for the Kings with a five hole goal and a walk off celly for the cherry on top.
The Kings ended the rookie faceoff event with a nice 3-0 shutout against their rival the San Jose Sharks. Fitting as it’s in San Jose at the brand new Tech CU Arena.
James Stefan would open up the scoring for the Kings with a fabulous single effort goal. Fighting off two players and squeaking through them to score on the breakaway. Aatu Jamsen would collect his first of two goals as he makes the Sharks goalie pay for his mistake. Jamsen scored a nice wrap around goal thanks to the Sharks goalie attempting to grab the puck and therefor leaving him out of position to get to the other side of net to stop the wrap around. Jamsen’s second goal of the game would be a simple empty netter. However before the empty netter Byfield took a puck up high and dropped to the ice in pain. He quickly got back up, made a play, and went to the bench. Byfield has so far been credited with an assist on that goal making it his second assist and point of the event.
The Kings split this game with both of their goalies Jacob Ingham & David Hrenek. They each ended up playing exactly half the event.
There were barley any Kings that left me wanting more in this event, and for the most part even the Kings that I thought could’ve done more will get another chance in either the preseason or their respective team in the 2022-23 season. Akil Thomas and Tyler Madden were two Kings that I do want to see more from. Madden especially being a player we picked up in the Tyler Toffoli trade as the main asset. He was highly talked about has a skilled goal scorer who can do just about anything asked of him. Injuries have played a part in his slow development but still. Akil Thomas was someone that I was very fond of when we drafted him following his gold medal winning goal for team Canada. Maybe my expectation were too high for him however he has made little to no development so far and is still a mid level AHL player. With how many prospects the Kings still have even as a playoff team Thomas is one that is seriously running out of time to prove that he can be even a bottom six NHL player.
As for players that impressed there’s too many to give an in-depth review on. Brandt Clarke leads the pack, four points, a shootout winner, wasn’t afraid to block shots, took two massive hits while in vulnerable areas and kept playing without missing a shift. His defensive game although needs work wasn’t horrific by any means. It sucks he can’t play in the AHL this season but he should have another amazing season in the OHL.
Jacob Ingham stopped 39 of 42 shots over the one and a half games he played in the event. With the Kings having no real number one goalie prospect and an aging Jonathan Quick, Jacob Ingham might be able to step up to the plate if need be.
Quinton Byfield was dominate over the two games he played, sure he only collected two points but his play was fast, matured, physical, and calm. This should be an amazing season in the NHL for the 2020 second overall pick.
Taylor Ward is a player that before this event I didn’t even know existed, now I’m going to watch his journey in hopes he becomes an NHL player. Ward has serious shooting skill and like I said before he loves to shoot. Even at 24 Ward could be an amazing story to watch and he sure impressed me.