J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Three players who ended last season with the Reign will skate with the Kings when NHL training camps open Saturday. One, Colten Teubert, won't do much more than skate on his own as he recovers from a scaphoid fracture.
The other two, Jordan Nolan and Michael Pelech, have quite a bit at stake.
Pelech added seven pounds to his 6-foot, 2.5-inch frame this summer, bringing him up to a robust 213 pounds entering camp. The Toronto native said he only took two weeks off from the end of the season in April until he began his off-season regimen - not as long as most hockey players seem to rest before hitting the gym - giving him plenty of time to add the weight.
The 20-year-old forward had 10 goals, 35 points and 133 penalty minutes in 72 games for the Reign last season. Most of those 10 were what are known as "garbage goals." They aren't pretty, usually resulting from Pelech being close to the net for a rebound or fighting for a loose puck, but count just as much as the pretty goals.
For a player whose job depends on asserting himself around the net, an extra seven pounds can't hurt.
"I wanted to get a little bigger and stronger," Pelech said. "I wanted to get faster. I did a lot of power skating."
Pelech's game is still raw. He was prone to careless penalties in his first professional season and his minus-21 rating was lowest on the Reign. The Kings' sixth-round draft pick in 2009 even seems to sense that he's a ways off from reaching the NHL, saying Thursday that "getting to be with them [the Kings players], it's an honor. It's a lot of fun watching them play. Just being on the ice with them is a lot of fun."
Still, Pelech enters his second training camp a more confident player.
"I think the first one, you don't know what's going on, there's a lot of new faces," he said. "This one, I've played with a bunch of the guys. You're more comfortable, it's easier. I'm a lot less nervous."
As for Nolan, he already made an impression in the Kings' two-game series against the Phoenix Coyotes rookies on Tuesday and Wednesday in Glendale, Arizona. Nolan jumped on a Coyotes turnover Tuesday, created another Wednesday, and both wound up resulting in Kings goals - and assists for Nolan.
Listed at 6-3 and 216 pounds, Nolan is known more as an energy player who creates turnovers and fights, with his scoring skills somewhat of an afterthought. A seventh-round pick in 2009, Nolan had 23 goals and 48 points in 49 games with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season before joining the Reign.
He scored once in three ECHL games, interestingly enough, by creating a turnover and taking the puck about two-thirds the length of the ice at Orleans Arena.
"I think I'm an all-around kind of player," he said. "I can score goals, I can pass, I can hit, I can play. I'm not going to be a big goal scorer in the NHL, but I can be a good all-around player."
Like Pelech, Nolan is among the tallest players in rookie camp but is a smoother skater. Whether that translates into an AHL assignment is yet to be determined. Both players said their goal is to start the season with the Manchester Monarchs.
If either lands in Ontario, no introduction will be necessary.