OC Register Kings show glimpses of the future in development camp

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  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Koehn Ziemmer plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Koehn Ziemmer plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Kings’ recruits huddle after a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Kings’ recruits huddle after a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jakub Dvorak plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Jakub Dvorak plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Francesco Pinelli plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Koehn Ziemmer plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Koehn Ziemmer plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)

  • Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of...


    Brandt Clarke plays in a scrimmage at the conclusion of Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo on Monday, July 10, 2023. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
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EL SEGUNDO –– A showcase of the Kings’ budding prospects on Monday offered a glimpse of how the organization has unearthed promise from every depth of hockey’s talent pool, as 2021 lottery pick Brandt Clarke drove play while late-round selections Martin Chromiak and Ryan Conmy notched two goals apiece.

The Kings’ heirs to the throne packed their practice facility for the past five days for a development camp that culminated in a scrimmage won by the Kings’ white team, 7-1.

Clarke was the only participant with NHL experience and a strong shot to make the parent club’s roster this coming season after being selected eighth overall in 2021. Conmy shot up the Central Scouting rankings last season but still ended up going in the sixth round, one round later than the Kings snagged Chromiak in 2020.

Other standouts, even in a losing effort, included forwards Francesco Pinelli and Alex Laferriere, as well as defenseman Jakub Dvorak, whom the Kings selected with their first pick (Round 2, No. 54 overall) this year.

Clarke demonstrated patience and guile as he created high-quality chances in addition to assisting on multiple goals, but he was quick to share plaudits for his fellow prospects.

“(Chromiak) always shows out … every time I’ve ever seen him,” Clarke said. “Conmy’s a really good player, (Dvorak) is really great defensively and really strong. I feel like there’s just a lot of promising people coming up through this organization.”

Dvorak appeared headed for another campaign in his native Czechia’s system, hopefully with an expanded role at the top level. Pinelli and Laferriere will likely start the year in the American Hockey League, where Chromiak competed last season and likely will again this year. Pinelli completed his second campaign as captain of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers last season while Laferriere played four AHL contests after wrapping up his career at Harvard.

Clarke began last season with the Kings and then spent time at the American Hockey League level. Both game experience and considerable practice time prepared him for a second-half return to the Barrie Colts, where he eviscerated the OHL to the tune of nearly two points per game in both the regular season and playoffs.

“I think Brandt showed a lot of improvement during his time with us earlier this year,” said Barrie’s director of player personnel Mark Seidel. “His game continues to mature and his development on the defensive side of the game continues to improve. He is an offensive savant and his continual improvement away from the puck will make him a star for the L.A. Kings.”

The Kings’ director of player development, Glen Murray, echoed that sentiment, saying that Clarke’s defensive game was often overlooked because his offensive instincts were so readily apparent. He also said Clarke had more deeply embraced his conditioning regimen and continued to display panache in big games and key situations.

“The way his brain works is, it’s the last day of development camp, and he’s like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be the best player out here,’” Murray said.

All five of the Kings’ 2023 draft picks attended development camp: Dvorak, Conmy, goalie Hampton Slukynsky, defenseman Matthew Mania and winger Koehn Zimmer. A far cry from the big-city, NHL ice, Slukynsky was playing high school hockey this time last year in the Northern Minnesota town of Warroad, with a population of about 700 people and located a stone’s throw from the Canadian border.

“I thought they all really did well,” Murray said. “It’s hard to come in here, if you’re nervous, you haven’t been to LA before, you see Drew Doughty walking around the locker room and stuff like that, they get a little nervous but once they get that out of their system … it gets a little bit better.”

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