As everyone around the league gets ready for the start of another season, fans of the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks were treated to a free game at the Honda Center last night as the SoCal Futures Game took place with said fans getting a first glimpse at their respective teams’ future. While it may not mean anything in the standings, the Kings earn some early bragging rights as their rookies entered enemy territory and trashed the Anaheim rookies by a score of 6-1.
While noticing the boards at Honda Center were bare from their usual advertisements, it felt as though I was watching a game from the 1980’s. Of course, when the Kings rookies started their assault on the opposition, I knew were living in 2013 as the youngsters donning the silver and black certainly looked as promising as they do on paper.
Goaltender Jean-Francois Berube enters this season with a lot to prove.
After spending the majority of the last two seasons with Los Angeles’ ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, Berube played a couple of games in the AHL for the Manchester Monarchs were he will most likely end up playing this year. But Berube has certainly improved over the last couple of years and while it is expected that he’ll be playing in the AHL this coming season, a spot with the big club in Los Angeles isn’t entirely out of the question.
Last night, Berube played the opening two periods while facing 27 shots – and stopping 26 of those.
In the third, Mathias Niederberger, who had signed a minor-league contract with the Kings in July, came on in relief of Berube and was perfect stopping every shot he faced en route to Los Angeles’ convincing win.
On the offensive side of things, there was certainly plenty for Kings fans to feel excited about.
Andy Andreoff opened the scoring for the Kings scoring a beautiful goal before adding another later in the contest.
Chosen 80th overall by the Kings in 2011, Andreoff certainly had no trouble showing his offensive prowess despite his 217-pound frame which may suggest that scoring isn’t his strongest suit. Nevertheless, like many of the rookies who took part last night, expect Andreoff to make a lot of noise in the coming weeks at Kings training camp.
But the Pickering, Ontario native wasn’t the only King to find his offensive touch as Tanner Pearson, who enjoyed a brief stint with the big club last season, also scored a pair of goals.
Nic Deslaurier and Colin Miller rounded out the scoring to help Los Angeles kick off their rookie schedule on the right foot.
While he wasn’t able to score, LAKingsInsider Jon Rosen emphasized that he was “awfully impressed” with the play of fellow prospect Linden Vey “whose confidence with the puck and offensive awareness separated him from a crowded pool of talented prospects.”
He may not quite be ready for the leap to the big club but like Andreoff, expect Linden Vey to make quite the push for a roster spot with the Kings at the team’s upcoming training camp.
According to Jon Rosen, while he was impressed with Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey, he was just as pleased with the play of Tyler Toffoli who arguably has the best chance of all the rookies to make the big club this season as he has already played a significant amount of time with the Kings during the latter stages of the regular season and playoffs last year.
As Rosen put it, “It’s probably a good sign that the team scored six times, and none of the goal scorers’ names was Tyler Toffoli.” I couldn’t agree more.
It was a promising start to the Kings’ rookie schedule as fans were able to make the short drive to Anaheim, re-embrace and celebrate the future of their team.
The regular season is fast approaching and fans are getting more excited with each passing day. Of course, while they won’t get to see many of the rookies they saw last night in Los Angeles this season, the eagerness will not waver as the prospects seen last night will be part of the Los Angeles Kings’ roster in the very near future – and no one in the City of Angels could be happier.