In just his fourth NHL game, LA Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot restored faith in the team’s defensive unit with an outstanding performance.
Among the many highlights from Thursday’s win for the LA Kings over the San Jose Sharks was the season debut of defenseman Tobias Bjornfot. He is one of the many young prospects who Kings fans were hoping to see with the big club this season, and in his debut, the 19-year-old did not disappoint.
In three games for the LA Kings last season, Bjornfot was held pointless with a -4 rating while averaging 12:58 of ice time. Still, both fans of the Kings and the team itself were excited for what was in store.
Defensively, Bjornfot is good as advertised.
Registering a hit and a blocked shot in his season debut, the native of Upplands Vasby, Sweden, helped out a lot more on the defensive side than his numbers indicate. Even better, the youngster wasted little time in picking up his first NHL point.
In the latter half of the first period on Thursday — the 12:42 mark, to be precise — Bjornfot cleared the puck from an aggressive Sharks attack only to find teammate Austin Wagner, fresh out of the penalty box, who beat goaltender Martin Jones to make it 3-0 Kings.
Following the game, a 6-2 Kings victory, Bjornfot spoke with the media about his successful season debut.
“I just wanted to enjoy the moment today,” the 19-year-old said of making his debut. “I felt good out there, and yeah, the assist out there. I think I had a long penalty shift, laying all over the ice, then I was so gassed. Then, I saw Wags coming out of the box and just tried to pass as quickly as I could.
As for praise from the coach, the blueliner was quick to receive some after the game.
“He said, ‘Good job and enjoy your day off tomorrow,’” a smiling Bjornfot said of Todd McLellan’s post-game words.
Even prior to the game, linemate Kale Clague had expressed his excitement on getting to play with Bjorfot, who he was familiar with from Ontario.
“Yeah, I mean I played with him a lot last year, so I’ve been around him for little over a year,” Clague told the media on Thursday afternoon. “He’s a great young player and he’s going to play a long time in this league, I believe.
“He’s a great skater, really smart, thinks the game really well. His time will come when he gets his opportunity and I know he’ll make the most of it.”
And Thursday was a very good start.
It is also worth noting that with Bjornfot’s assist on Thursday, he became the eighth-youngest defenseman in LA Kings history to record his first NHL point at 19 years and 311 days. The blueliner is also the youngest since Drew Doughty back on Oct. 20, 2008.
Skeptics may suggest that it was just one game or that his assist was just the result of lucky timing. How accurate — or inaccurate the latter is, though, few can deny the sheer talent and level of determination of Tobias Bjornfot.
Just one of many Kings prospects built for an exciting future, expect to see more good things coming from the 19-year-old. After all, even with the growing pains as inevitable as they are, Tobias Bjornfot is hard proof that for the LA Kings, there is light, once again, at the end of the tunnel.