Prospect Watch: Roland McKeown


RinkRoyalty will be reviewing the progress of Los Angeles Kings prospects every Wednesday as the season continues into full swing.

This week’s edition of Prospect Watch takes a look at Defensemen Roland McKeown.

Roland McKeown is an 18-year-old defensemen from Listowel, Ontario – Canada.  The youngster has a sizeable frame, standing 6’0 tall, and 195 pounds.

Kings fans may be familiar with his name.  McKeown was L.A.’s first of the two second round picks, drafted 50th overall, from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

McKeown played his youth hockey for the Toronto Marlboro’s of the Greater Toronto-Montreal Midget Hockey League, a Canadian league for up-and-coming elite players.

After finishing midget hockey with the Marlboro’s McKeown was drafted 2nd overall in the 2012 Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Draft by the Kingston Frontenacs.  Scouts described McKeown as a defensemen who could change the game beyond the level of Major Junior hockey.

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  • McKeown reported to the Frontenacs, and in his first season with the team scored 7 goals, 29 points, and 33 penalty minutes in 61 games.  Despite his success scoring points McKeown posted a -24 plus/minus rating.

    McKeown was busy during the season of 2012-2013.  McKeown joined both Canada’s Under-17, and Under-18 teams for tournaments.  In 5 games with the U17 team, McKeown had 3 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 5 games.  With the U18 team, the defensemen had 1 assist and a +4 rating in 7 games.

    Returning to the Frontenacs as a more prepared junior hockey player, McKeown posted 11 goals, 43 points, 61 penalty minutes, and a +38 rating in 62 games during the 2013-2014 season; his second in the OHL.  McKeown also recorded his first playoff goal in his second season.  Adding 3 assists, McKeown recorded 4 points, and a +6 rating in 7 postseason games.

    McKeown would suit up for Canada’s U18 team again, this time wearing a C on the front of his sweater.  McKeown was selected to captain Canada’s team that went into the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships hosted in Sochi, Russia.  Canada and McKeown would leave Sochi with a gold medal.

    In 7 games McKeown had 1 assists, 2 penalty minutes and a +3 rating.

    In the same year McKeown would participate in the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament held in August.  In 5 games McKeown recorded 1 assist.  Again, McKeown and Canada would wear gold on the trip home.

    Here’s a few of McKeown’s 2013-2014 OHL Highlights with the Frontenacs:

    After the 2014 NHL draft, McKeown joined the Kings rookie camp.  Continuing impressive play, McKeown was one of the first Kings prospects to score in an L.A. uniform:

    After the Kings rookie camp finished McKeown left for Kingston to rejoin the Frontenacs.

    MayorsManor writer John Hoven took some quotes from the Kings prospect:

    “I loved the game from the first time I started skating,” McKeown said.  “Growing up, my dad was GM of the local junior B team.  Once I started playing regularly, things just kind of took off.  My first few years I was a forward and then my dad noticed that it is tough to find a puck moving defensemen who can skate.  He decided to put me back there and I really enjoyed playing defense.  It just worked out well and I’ve been there ever since.”

    An honest assessment.  It’s easy to see how the experience has shaped McKeown’s game.  McKeown’s known as a strong two-way defensemen that plays well at both ends.  He’s been touted for his shot and puck moving ability, something he no doubt developed during his days as a forward.

    McKeown is more of an offensive defensemen than a two-way player.  At least right now.

    This year McKeown’s priorities have changed.  More emphasis is being put on position, defensive responsibilities, and getting the puck to his forward teammates; thus letting the offense generate the offense.

    Part of this was in response to being left off of the 2015 U18 Canadian roster.  After being invited to join Team Canada’s summer training camp, McKeown was left off of the team that just finished winning gold medals on home ice in Toronto and Montreal.

    “That was one of my goals coming into the season, to be at that camp and ultimately get selected,” McKeown said.  “That didn’t happen, so I want to use that for motivation.  I’m working even harder to become a pro player.  That’s my main goal now, to become a pro.”

    It’s good news for the Kings organization, who have been hurting in the defensive department this season.

    More from Kings News

    McKeown knows there’s still a way to go, and he has to improve it he wants to join one of the NHL’s best defensive squads.

    “To play in the L.A. system, you have to be solid, and that’s what I’m working on, being that solid defensemen, that guy who can be a key contributor and can defend well.  My numbers are down a bit and I’m not happy about it, but I think my puck moving ability will translate points at the next level.  To be a one-way, offensive d-man, I don’t think that’s going to be my knack.  So I have to really focus on my defensive ability and worry about my overall game.  Putting up points right now it’s my main focus.  It’s more about becoming that solid defensemen.”

    One of the best things going for the kid it that he’s smart.  McKeown’s smart with the puck on the ice, and makes intelligent evaluations off the ice.  His quote shows a significant level of maturity to make such an accurate, honest self-assessment.

    For the 2014-2015 season McKeown has been selected to captain the Frontenacs.  In 34 games he has 1 goal, 12 points, 30 penalty minutes, and a +1 rating.  McKeown was also selected to participate in two games for the OHL Junior All-Stars Super-Series.

    McKeown’s off to a great start on a very bright future.  McKeown’s future is making the Kings future brighter.

    On things for sure, he’s gaining more and more notoriety:

    We’ll continue to watch McKeown and his development as the second half of the season continues.