LA Kings: Akil Thomas enjoying larger rink to work on his game

(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

LA Kings prospect Akil Thomas revealed that he’s using the larger rink in Germany to work on a few aspects of his game, but he knows an adjustment will be needed once he returns to North America.

Akil Thomas revealed on a recent podcast that he has loved every aspect of playing on the larger rink in Germany. The LA Kings‘ 2019 second-round pick is a co-host on the Soul on Ice Podcast, discussing his experience playing overseas for the first time.

Along with four other members of the Kings prospect pool, he was loaned to Eisbären Berlin to continue their development in training camp and preseason games.

The LA Kings began overseeing all operations of Eisbären Berlin in February 2017 as both clubs are owned and operated by AEG Sports. It made perfect sense to send all five prospects overseas from the perspective that a) the Kings will be able to keep close tabs on them, and b) most of these guys have been idle since mid-March.

The NHL and their affiliates have yet to determine a schedule for the 2020-2021 season, so the time in Germany will provide Thomas and his fellow Kings’ prospects time to develop chemistry that can be utilized once they are back on a North American rink.

Thomas noted that the larger rink in Germany provides the opportunity for a much different style of play than he’s accustomed to.

"“I think this style of hockey is going to help me get the puck and start training my brain to think that every time you touch the puck, you can make something happen. You can make the more risky play, make a nice pass, hold onto the puck, get into space, and go skate it through people. That’s kind of what the European game does.”"

It’s often a challenging task for European players to adjust to the smaller North American rink once drafted by an NHL franchise. Plays happen much quicker and there’s less time to react. And Akil Thomas is well aware that some adjustment will be required once he transitions back to the AHL, where he’ll begin the season with the Ontario Reign.

"“I might be thinking too much of that when I come back. There’s less space, things happen quicker, so I may need to start moving pucks quicker when I come back and playing a much simpler game because there’s less space. We’ll see how it goes. But I’m liking it. It’s stuff that I’ve wanted to work on the last three years, so I’m exactly in the place I wanted to be.”"

The podcast episode featured 2020 second overall pick, Quinton Byfield, as the show’s guest, but Thomas opened up about his time overseas before Byfield was brought in. The latter has been a high commodity since the draft, inundated with interviews by everyone and anyone. But he and Thomas are good friends, so there was certainly a sense of Byfield speaking more freely.

Related Story. Andersson returns today, sells car to pay fine. light

A few other notes that recently popped up since I started writing this.

Both Tyler Madden and Alex Turcotte are reportedly heading back to Los Angeles already. Turcotte had an assist in last Sunday’s game against Red Bull. Madden left Saturday’s game with a hand injury. At first, it was reported that he wouldn’t miss any time, but he sat out Sunday’s contest. Hopefully, we’ll get more information on both players.

Tweet translation:

“Tyler Madden and Alex Turcotte left Berlin and traveled back to Los Angeles. Tyler has his hand injury treated in LA, Alex has been brought back by the LA Kings. We wish you a speedy recovery and good luck in the near NHL future.”

After finishing up his five-game suspension, Lias Andersson returned yesterday and scored a goal on his only shot on goal. You can see that video here.