Much like Justin Auger in 2013, the Kings opted to go with a forward with a commanding physical skillset. While his game is developing in many ways, forward Matt Schmalz has the natural advantage of being a towering 6’6.
Schmalz sites board work and puck possession as two things in his game that are paramount to his success. Both of those are staples of L.A. Kings hockey,
“Yeah, it’s one of the things I have to make sure it’s in my game, for sure. You can’t play 5’8 when you’re 6’6, so you’ve got to play 6’6, a man’s role, and that’s board work and battling. I want to keep up my battling skills as much as possible and get stronger. I can get a lot bigger, and there’s more to come, so I want to make sure my board work [is strong] and get the puck out of our zone and into their zone to get to work.”
Like prior drafts, Dean Lombardi and crew do a good overall job at finding players in the middle rounds that fit the mentality and style of the team. While his numbers have a few glaring issues, like the career plus-minus number of a -79, he has been playing with a struggling Sudbury team in the OHL.
Win an improved role last year with the team he was able to go from scoring eight points during the 2013-14 season, to scoring 20 goals and 40 points in 2014-15.
“We had a young team coming in. We went for it [two years ago], and we fell short, so having more of a leadership role and better communication with my coach and better relationship with my coach, it kind of gave me a little bit more confidence on the ice, and more confidence on the ice just grew into getting open ice.”
He also sites the leadership role the coaching staff gave him as a major reason for his turnaround season.
“For development, it’s been pretty good. Like I said, two years ago we went for it, and I was a younger guy, so I had a lot of drafted players on our team that I kind of just shadowed a little bit and got used to how they’re playing and how to be professional, and then I brought them to this year. Just like that, it turned around and it was good for me.”
Moving forward it will be interesting to see where it all goes for Schmalz.
Schmalz spoke with the media following his selection at the 2015 NHL Draft, with some of that conversation being captured in this Hockey’s Future video.
Chaz Reddekopp, D, Victoria Royals (WHL)
7th round, 187th overall
Height: 6-4 Weight: 219
The Kings wrapped up the draft with two defensemen in the last round. The first was Chaz Reddekopp out of Victoria. Like, Cernak, Reddekopp is a more defensive heavy defenseman. The Kings continued to add to what is the stay-at-home side of their pipeline. He has size and a good d-zone mind, but has been knocked quite heavily for his skating and lack of an offensive game. For a seventh round pick he really lacks the boom or bust quality we have scene the Kings go with late in the past. He is a bit more of a project player who could be fairly solid with the right development.
Matt Roy, D, Michigan Tech (WCHA)
7th round, 194th overall
Height: 6-1, Weight: 200
With the last pick of the Kings’ draft, they went with the very raw Matt Roy. With already a year of NCAA hockey under his belt, Roy was a decent bottom pair with Michigan tech last year. At this point he has some puck moving qualities, and a defensive game that needs work. Again, this pick really lacks the boom quality you normally see in a late round pick from the Kings. Instead, Roy seems like a fairly low-upside pick who could turn out to be a real project in the long run. He was passed over in two drafts already, and at 20 is a fairly old overage draftee.