Hoping to make the LA Kings roster, a confident Matt Luff spoke with the media following Tuesday’s training camp session.
While he has been in southern California for a few years now, the majority of Luff’s playing time has come in the AHL with the Ontario Reign. Yet, while there may not be anything wrong with that, there is another place where the Oakville, Ont. would prefer to be.
Having played 33 games for the LA Kings in 2018-19 and 18 games in 2019-20, Luff is hoping to see more of the City of Angels this coming season, and frankly, it’s hard to blame him. After all, while this year’s camp may be abbreviated — not to mention unorthodox — the 23-year-old is nonetheless capitalizing on his opportunities.
On Tuesday, Luff spoke with the media about how he felt after Saturday’s scrimmage at STAPLES Center and how Todd McLellan’s confidence helped push him forward. First, Luff addressed the media regarding his heightened level of determination at this year’s camp.
“Yeah, I think coming in my fourth camp here, it’s a pretty big one.” the right-winger noted. “I mean, obviously, last year was one of the first ones cut, so I think this year, I just want to come in and kind of show Todd and the rest of the coaching staff.”
As far as the youngster is concerned, he’s been doing fine work thus far.
“I think I’ve been a lot more consistent with my game, and it’s showing them that I want to be here, and I think I’ve done that so far,” Luff elaborated. “So, I think just having those extra months this year was just focusing and mentally of making sure, you know, I come every day to work like it’s a game day. I think I’ve done that.”
After a solid effort during Saturday’s scrimmage, which included a goal, Matt Luff garnered the confidence he needed to seriously contend for a spot on the LA Kings’ opening-night roster. En route, in fact, Luff got to know a couple of new linemates better.
“Yeah, I think Saturday, you know, just kind of worked with my linemates there and with [Carl Grundstrom] and Lias [Andersson] there,” Luff noted. “I think both are such good players, and I know I played with Grundy before, and we just kind of worked off each other. Then, it’s just– you know what, I’ve been with the system before, so I kind of got settled with it and come to camp and don’t have to overthink. I just kind of stuck to my game there.”
The right winger’s success, however, was not limited to his offensive prowess.
“I think just working in the D-zone away from the pocket is key for me to be trusted in all four areas, and that’s a big thing.”
Of those he has impressed at training camp thus far, Matt Luff caught the attention of the LA Kings bench boss himself. The aforementioned Todd McLellan had told reporters earlier this week that Luff’s training camp last year in comparison to this year was like night-and-day. Luff was asked whether he agreed with this.
“Yeah, I’d say it’s probably my best camp I’ve had since I’ve been with the Kings organization,” the former Hamilton Bulldog emphasized. “So, I think it’s just those extra months again. I worked on my mental game with a mental coach and kind of just going back to not overthinking plays and just settling into camp. [It’s] like I’m playing on the Reign. That’s how I’m kind of looking at things and making sure I’m not fumbling pucks. I’m not nervous to make a pass that might get picked off.”
“But, I think, yeah, to say to do my best camp would probably be the right thing, and it’s just night-and-day versus last year. I think I have more confidence with the puck and away from the puck and just playing more of my game.”
While his chances of making the big club are unclear at this juncture, Matt Luff is nonetheless giving the LA Kings coaching staff a more difficult time making a decision. He’s also giving them plenty of reasons to believe that if he does get assigned to Ontario, that he won’t be far from their minds.
While he may need extra credit for the work he’s doing in a shorter-than-usual timeline, Matt Luff has, in a way, told those with the LA Kings that he is not content to go away quietly.
If he does make the LA Kings’ Opening Night roster, it will be more than well-deserved. However, if he begins the season in the AHL, you can make a safe bet that Matt Luff will earn himself a trip to Los Angeles very soon.