Kings AHL prospect season review

By John Logue

The 2004-05 season finished like every other for the Manchester Monarchs: a very good regular season followed by an early exit from the playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings affiliate did capture its first ever Atlantic Division Championship, however.

The Monarchs got off to a very quick start and were the hottest team in North American hockey at one point. Injuries and fatigue eventually caught up to them but they still had a very respectable year. One question will remain, however. If Yannick Lehoux had remained healthy, would things have ended differently?

The Monarchs were without a doubt one of the teams most helped by the NHL lockout and matching or eclipsing this year’s win totals will very difficult next year with players like Dustin Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Tim Gleason, and Mathieu Garon likely going on to the NHL.

Below is a review of the seasons of the Kings prospects who played in Manchester during the 2004-05 season.

Goaltenders

Adam Hauser – It is not often that the backup puts up better numbers than the starter, but it happened this year with Adam Hauser. Hauser finished the year with a 1.93 GAA and a .933 save percentage.

Hauser has found a home with the Monarchs after being let go by the Edmonton organization and a few stops in the ECHL. Hauser has become the goalie Edmonton hoped he would be and has given the Monarchs and Kings a very valuable option where their prospect pool is weakest, between the pipes.

If the NHL lockout ends as expected Hauser is expected to carry the torch between the pipes this year for the Manchester and will continue his quest to prove the doubters wrong.

Defensemen

Tim Gleason – Gleason was without a doubt the team’s MVP on the blueline this past season. He was another player that would have started the season in the NHL had there been a season. He contributed 10 goals, 14 assists and was a +17 while anchoring the Monarchs blueline and punishing opposing players who dared cross it. Although Gleason didn’t make the All-Star team, he was an invaluable contributor who will be missed in Manchester.

Denis Grebeshkov – Grebeshkov might have been the only Kings AHL prospect whose stock slipped this past season. After a rookie season that was filled with injuries and inconsistency, a lot was expected of Grebeshkov is his sophomore season in North America.

Grebeshkov put up some very impressive offensive numbers, 5 goals and 44 assists, but he will be remembered more for his defensive lapses. He turned the puck over too many times to count, his positional game still needs improvement and he needs to be much tougher in front of the net. The No. 1 knock on his play still holds true, not finishing the game with the same intensity as he started with. These are mostly mental mistakes and Grebeshkov is still very young and has plenty of time to grow, but he may have lost his ranking as the No. 1 Kings prospect.

Forwards

Yanick Lehoux – Coming into the 2004-05 season, Lehoux had failed to live up to lofty expectations placed on him after some very impressive years in the QMJHL. Lehoux more than silenced critics; he left them with a mouthful of crow.

Lehoux was absolutely destroying the AHL before a cheap shot ended his season. In just 38 games he amassed 23 goals and 31 assists. He anchored the Monarchs top line and was the quarterback on the power play before getting hurt. Lehoux was named to his first AHL All-Star team and significantly raised his stock as a prospect. He will enter the 2005-06 season again with lofty expectations and a chance to make the NHL squad. He must prove that this season was not an aberration.

Dustin Brown – Brown made his AHL debut this year after an injury-riddled rookie campaign in the NHL. Fans and management were able to see what a healthy Brown could do, finishing second on the team in scoring with 29 goals and 45 assists and being named to the AHL All-Star team. He was all that was advertised, a gritty NHL-style forward who can score goals and isn’t afraid to mix it up. This will likely be Brown’s only year in the AHL as he returns to the Kings.

Michael Cammalleri – It has always been known that Cammalleri could score at the AHL level and since there wasn’t an NHL for him to be called up to, he finished second in the league in scoring with 46 goals and 63 assists and was named to the All-Star team.

Cammalleri’s size really being the only knock on him, he is a player who will greatly benefit from the rumored rule changes in the NHL. After Lehoux’s injury, he proved that he could still put up points in bunches while being the focal point of a team’s offense and being shadowed by the opposition’s top defenseman.

Cammalleri will battle for a job in the Kings training camp this year. His 2004-05 season can only help him.

Petr Kanko – Kanko came from the OHL with very high expectations, but wasn’t able to fulfill them. Injuries and a surplus of talent above him limited his playing time and he only scored 4 goals and had 14 assists. Kanko is most effective when he is flying around irritating the opposition and scoring goals. He had a rough transition to the AHL and just wasn’t able to get his game together.

Kanko will benefit greatly if the Monarchs elite forwards move on to the NHL, as he will see more ice time and more than likely will be able to transform his game.

Greg Hogeboom – “Hogie” also had a rough transition to the AHL. He only played 14 games and only scored one goal. Hogeboom is a top six caliber forward and needs to see top six forward ice time. Like Kanko, he didn’t see the ice time he needed to and will be looking for a bounce back year in 2005-06.

Noah Clarke – Clarke worked his tail off in the offseason to become a more complete player and succeeded. He scored 21 goals and 24 assists while playing a more physical game and being more defensively responsible. Like many other Monarchs, Clarke will be competing for a spot on the 2005-06 Kings in training camp.

David Steckel – Steckel was a 2001 first round pick of the Kings and came to Monarchs camp on an AHL contract determined to shake the dreadful label of ‘bust’.

Steckel worked harder than any other Monarch on and off the ice. He started the year with the Kings ECHL affiliate the Reading Royals and was a point per game player. After nine games, Steckel was called up to the Monarchs and earned the respect of fans, fellow players and the front office with his work ethic. He finished the year with 10 goals and 7 assists seeing mostly third and fourth line ice time. He will be looking for an NHL contract and this last season really helped his bargaining power.

Matt Ryan – Ryan was invited to Kings prospect camp over the summer and quickly caught the eyes of the front office. He earned a three-year NHL contract and joined the Monarchs.

Ryan’s pesky style made him a perfect energy line player for the Monarchs and he had an impressive rookie season scoring 9 goals and 15 assists. He understands his role and he does it very well. His role with likely remain the same with the Monarchs next season but he will be one of the first names called if the Kings need help during the season.

George Parros – Parros found his goal-scoring touch this year while finishing second on the team in penalty minutes. Parros is developing into the type of player the Kings front office has wanted for years, a tough as nails enforcer who can skate a regular shift and find the back of the net. Parros demonstrated all of those qualities and took it a step further, scoring clutch goals late in games and finishing fourth on the team with four game-winning goals.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. All rights reserved. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.