The Los Angeles Kings training camp has been filled with positives to date. There are some “knowns” in camp so far- the line of Palffy, Stumpel and Robitaille will give the kings their best offensive line since the Gretzky era- and some unknowns- who will fill in the last two defensive spots and when will Jere Karalahti arrive in camp?
The lines seem to be taking shape without much input from young prospects. Donald MacLean played about as quiet an exhibition game as possible against Colorado on Tuesday, and has not yet impressed the new coaching staff. Younger players like Kip Brennan and Brian McGrattan showed some spark but have already been returned to their respective teams, and none of the leftover prospects seem to have done enough to warrant their stay on the big club. The good news is that the Kings seemed prepared for this and have filled the potential voids with more savvy players who know Coach Murray’s system. Players like Brad Chartrand and Len Barrie have shown some spark and Chartrand will likely make the squad. 27-year-old winger Marko Tuomainen has shown an aggressiveness that should make him stick. He plays a sound defensive game, and has the grit needed to dominate a player on that side of the ice.
Defensively, things are not what they seemed one month ago. Back then, it seemed that Aki Berg would not be in camp and Jere Karalahti would be impressing with his skills. Now, with Jere’s visa troubles, he is not in camp yet and Aki Berg has returned with the promise that made him a top pick just a few short years ago. Berg is bigger, stronger, skates better and has more offensive game that he did before last year’s holdout, and seems to dominate at times. Berg’s shots and passes have been both frequent and accurate. He has had time on the power play and penalty kill, and has caught more than one opponent with a ferocious hit. Berg seems dedicated to showing opponents that you can not skate around him with your head down like you could a few seasons ago.
Other youngsters who are impressing are defenseman Frantisek Kaberle, who has been solid on both sides of the ice and the aforementioned Brad Chartrand. Most King’s fans and personnel are awaiting the arrival of Karalahti, who may be waiting himself out of a job.
Keep returning- more updates to come!