The Los Angeles Kings have been busy over the past few days, signing a highly ranked prospect, securing an intriguing NCAA free agent, and welcoming two young players whose seasons just ended.
On Monday, the Kings announced that they signed defenseman Sean Durzi to his three-year Entry Level Contract. Durzi, acquired in January as part of the trade that sent Jake Muzzin to Toronto, is currently in the midst of playoff season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm. The Storm swept the Kitchener Rangers in the first round and will be taking on the London Knights next.
Durzi has five assists in that four game span for the Storm. During the regular season, he put up 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 18 games for the Storm, and 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 18 games for the Owen Sound Attack, his previous team. He has dealt with some injuries over the course of the career that have limited his games played, but they all so far appear to be unrelated issues rather than a chronic injury that could flare up again.
Durzi is known as a puck-moving defenseman and excels at driving transition into the offensive zone. As a player who has already turned 20 years old, Durzi is in his final year of major junior hockey, so next season he will be playing professionally, most likely with the Ontario Reign — although we’re always rooting for a good surprise.
On Tuesday, the Kings announced the signing of Blake Lizotte, a 21-year old forward who spent two seasons with St. Cloud State University. So yes, the St. Cloud to Los Angeles pipeline is alive and well. The Kings’ scouting staff had plenty of time to watch Lizotte, given that they frequently draft players from that program. (Forward Mikey Eyssimont turned pro at the end of last season after three years at St. Cloud, and the Kings also have the rights to goaltender David Hrenak, in his second year with the program.)
Lizotte put up 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 37 games with St. Cloud, whose season ended last week after an upset to underdog American International. (St. Cloud was the number one seed in the NCAA, going 30-5-3 on the season.) He generally anchored the Huskies’ top line throughout the season. Last season, he was named to the All-NCHC Rookie Team and also received the NCHC’s Rookie of the Year award. This season, he received NCHC First Team All-Star honors.
Listed at 5’7”, Lizotte is on the smaller side, but the Kings’ scouting staff clearly honed in on a player who exhibits a high compete level. He’s excelled at every level he’s played in and is regarded as a player with a high work ethic who will do what it takes to work on any areas of concern. Lizotte is generally known as a playmaker who is working on increasing his scoring.
While Lizotte may or may not get into one of the final two games of the season, he will essentially burn the first year of his ELC by reporting to the club right away.
We're happy to have you in the LA Kings organization, Blake Lizotte! pic.twitter.com/8BMidlBDsY— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 3, 2019
The Kings have also welcomed two players to the Ontario Reign from the OHL on amateur tryout contracts, as their seasons have ended. Goaltender Jacob Ingham, drafted by the Kings in the sixth round of the 2018 Draft, comes to the Reign from the Mississauga Steelheads. The Steelheads were swept in four games by the Sudbury Wolves. Ingham ended the playoffs with a 0.886 save percentage and 3.68 goals against average. While the 18-year old Ingham will most likely not appear in a game for the Reign, he will get the chance to work with Dusty Imoo and the rest of the coaching staff, and to experience a taste of professional hockey.
The Reign add LAK 6th round pick, goaltender Jacob Ingham, on an ATO - Born in June 2000. In comparison, one of his new goalie teammates, Peter Budaj, was drafted just over 12 months later in 2001.— Zach Dooley (@ReignInsider) April 2, 2019
Forward Aidan Dudas also joins the Reign at the conclusion of his major junior season. The 2018 fourth round draft pick had four points (three goals, one assist) in five games as his Owen Sound Attack lost to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Two of Dudas’ goals came in his team’s final game. Dudas made his professional debut on Wednesday night for the Reign, centering the fourth line.