Okay, I was going to try to keep it a secret, to make Twitter play a game to guess where I was going based off of vague road signs and random gas stations, but as you read this post, your JFTC Midwest correspondent will be on the road, headed to Iowa.
The road trip checks off one of the few midwestern states I’ve yet to visit, which is good for updating my scratch-off map of US states, but also gives me another rare chance to see the Ontario Reign in person.
It’s not the best year to see the Reign—their 28 points are lowest in the league—but duty, and the love of a good road trip, calls.
Some players I’m going to have my eye on as the Reign try to crack one of the best teams in the Central Division:
Sheldon Rempal: The rookie has been a pleasant discovery for the Reign this year. He’s had a few stints up with the Kings and is second in points, despite missing seven games due to his call-ups. Rempal has shown off his hands and speed with the Reign and has been one of the few real bright spots for the team this season.
Philippe Maillet: Maillet is on an AHL contract, and while those players often don’t stick around for too long, as organizations need room for their own NHL prospects, he’s been a favorite of mine to watch since he joined the Reign at the end of the 2016-17 season. The somewhat undersized forward has 23 points, though he hasn’t scored a goal since December 22, when he scored three of them.
Matt Roy: The second-year pro has definitely been growing his game and as the blue line in Ontario is thinned by injuries and call-ups, Roy finds himself taking on a bigger role and thriving. He’s already set career highs in goals, assists, and total points (6-15—21), and he hasn’t even matched his total games played from last season (34 games this year; 49 AHL games last season). Roy doesn’t play a flashy game, but he’s been one of Ontario’s most important defenders this season and may get a look at the NHL sooner rather than later.
Great work by Zach. Roy will play in the NHL - and could get a look later this season after moves are made. https://t.co/qY1qZ8g5GL— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) January 16, 2019
Kale Clague: The highly touted defense prospect has had a rough start to his pro career and has found himself bouncing up and down the lineup. He’s started to find a groove lately and I’m curious to see how his game is faring as compared to the Reign games I was able to see earlier in the season.
Cal Petersen: Look, the “trade Jonathan Quick” rumors keep popping up more and more. Is Petersen the goalie of the future? The heir apparent to the crease? I don’t think there are many of Ontario’s losses that you can pin directly on Petersen as he plays behind an inexperienced team. Like all young pros, he still can do a lot to improve his game, but we saw flashes of someone ready to take on the NHL during his stint as the Kings’ starter.
Jack Campbell gets the win against his old team. Everyone feels good. [Jewels from the Crown]
It’s hard to call this a revenge game for Jack Campbell, who pretty much seems like he loves every human he encounters. [The Athletic]
More on Jack Campbell getting closure on his tenure with the Stars. [Los Angeles Times]
Post-game notes and reactions from Willie Desjardins, Jack Campbell, Drew Doughty, and Carl Hagelin. [Kings Insider]
Some more on Reign defenseman Matt Roy, pegged as Ontario’s most consistent defenseman this year. [Reign Insider]
A look at some Western Conference AHL All-Star choices, including Kings/Reign defenseman Sean Walker. [NHL]
Are your scorers just “empty calories”? Find out! [Raw Charge]
Rick Nash’s announcement that his retirement was due to lingering concussion issues brings the spotlight back onto the NHL’s need to ensure the safety of their players. [The Ringer]
Some on-the-record glimpses behind the curtain at the time-honored tradition of the rookie dinner. (Featuring an all-too-tamed-down anecdote from Tanner Pearson.) [Sports Illustrated]
A recap of all of the changes, on-ice and off, in the NWHL this season. [The Ice Garden]
Finland has more top-tier players than just Kaapo Kakko available in this year’s draft. [EP Rinkside]
The art of screening the goalie. (Featuring one Kings-related nugget.) [The Athletic]
How to adapt your game in the NHL when you’ve been playing forever. [AP News]
Watch Barry Trotz take on his old team as the New York Islanders face off against the Washington Capitals. The Islanders have been far more competitive than anyone really expected them to be this season, and a lot of that praise can be heaped on Trotz (and goaltending guru Mitch Korn, who followed him to Long Island). The game airs at 4:30 pm Pacific on ESPN+ and the NHL’s streaming service.