Connect with us


Kings Camp Day 1: Clarke Returns & More



Alex Laferriere

Los Angeles Kings hockey is back at Toyota Sports Performance Center.

While the NHL roster continues its camp in Australia, the rest of the Kings organization hit the ice for their first day of training camp on Thursday.

This group features a combination of Ontario Reign players and camp invitees but did give us some insight into the season ahead.

Brandt Clarke Returns:

The biggest piece of news out of day one is the return of Brandt Clarke. After suffering a shoulder injury last week, Clarke missed out on the Australia tour but is now cleared for practice.

He still can’t play in games and isn’t scrimmaging with the group, but was a full participant in practice.

Reign head coach Marco Sturm talked about Clarke after practice.

“He (Clarke) just got cleared, that’s why he didn’t make the trip,” said Sturm. “He’s not scrimmaging, we’re going to wait some time and then, hopefully, probably not this week, but maybe next week, he’ll join the group and play in games. Then we go from there.”

Obviously, contact changes things, but Clarke looked good running through drills. There were no obvious signs of any issues and it seems like he’s on track to be 100% healthy again soon.

Pinelli Continues to Impress:

With the Rookie Showcase fresh in everyone’s mind, Sturm was asked questions about that tournament and his takeaways. To no one’s surprise, Francesco Pinelli was a player that Sturm singled out as someone who impressed.

“There were a few guys who I thought were excellent, {like} Pinelli,” said Sturm. “We didn’t really know where he was at. He came in flying and had a really good week. Andre Lee, Laffy (Laferriere) was expected, I think, those guys took charge, Chromiak too. The guys I expected to be good were good, and again, Pinelli for me showed us that he worked hard this summer. Hopefully, he’s going to carry it over to this camp.”

The Importance of Signing Veterans in Ontario:

One thing fans of the Reign will notice, they added quite a few experienced AHLers this summer. Names like Charles Hudon, Haydon Hodgson, Mikhail Maltsev and potentially Andreas Englund.

While we normally think of the AHL as a developmental league, having those veterans to help younger players is a benefit too.

“Last year coming into the AHL for the first time, I learned very quickly how important veterans are,” said Sturm. “Unfortunately, (Nate) Thompson was out for a lot of games. With just one guy we lost a lot in the locker room and on the ice. That’s something we talked about as an organization, that maybe we want a little more experience and we’ve done a really good job of adding those pieces.”

The impact of those veterans was felt early on.

“I just talked to the coaches and we thought Maltsev, and those guys who have been around a while, Hudon, those guys, you notice them right away,” said Sturm. “So, that’s a good thing. Again, those are the kinds of guys you need. There was some other guys that had a good day one, some of the guys were nervous too so we’ll so how it goes tomorrow.

Akil Thomas Returns:

Another returning player was Akil Thomas, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. A good prospect who’s had shoulder surgeries in back-to-back seasons, Thomas getting back on track could be huge for the Kings.

According to Thomas, he’s in a great spot health-wise.

“I’m 100%, feel good,” said Thomas. “I had a big off-season and felt good, I was training all year last year, so I feel really good physically.”

Thomas also said the time spent training while injured has him in the best shape of his career.

“I would say so,” said Thomas. “I’ve been working out for so long, things like my jumps have improved, things I wouldn’t normally work on. My conditioning has definitely improved, that’s something I wanted to get better the last few years. Obviously, I’ve had a long time to work on that. So, that feels really good, the first day felt good.”

Day 2 Preview:

The Kings are back on the ice tomorrow and we’ll have a chance to chat with Brandt Clarke. So, that will come in an article tomorrow.

Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now. Not affiliated or endorsed by the Los Angeles Kings or the NHL.