At the team’s end-of-season media availability, Ontario Reign coach John Wroblewski reflected on his most impressive player. The answer may surprise you.
Once their season ended, the Ontario Reign embarked on a time of reflection that was a most unusual campaign, to say the least. As disappointing as the finish was, it is onward and upward for the LA Kings’ AHL affiliate as they took some time to look back on a transitional season.
Coach Wrobo touched on multiple topics, including who he believed was the Reign’s most impressive player this past season. The answer was by no means an easy one.
“It’s a tough one,” Wroblewski admitted. “I think everybody would like the answer to be maybe one of the marquee names. [Quinton] Byfield‘s quick turnaround at right about Game 10 was something special but maybe somebody who surprised [us] the most was maybe Jacob Moverare, though.”
Drafted by the Kings in the 4th round in 2016, Moverare, who stands at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, is a defensive-minded blueliner who possesses a great deal of hockey IQ. However, after spending the previous three seasons in his native Sweden, it wasn’t clear how the 22-year-old would adapt as a professional in North America.
“Just, you weren’t sure how a first-year North American pro would fare coming in; then, a little bit of an injury to start off a season, so then you really don’t know what you have,” Coach Wrobo noted. “And then, you’re sort of underwhelmed initially because he’s not the most fluid skater but then, all of a sudden, you notice he does a good beat and then he’s facilitating all kinds of offense and making such heady plays with the puck on a consistent basis.”
Upon being drafted, Moverare played for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads for former Kings development coach James Richmond.
When the Kings drafted him, Moverare’s two biggest weaknesses were his skating and his lack of muscle. These are two areas, however, that the blueliner worked tirelessly on with Richmond.
“Off the ice, he’s in the gym for extra time every day,” Richmond told me in 2016. “And he’s coming in every morning for extra work on his skating with me, and I’m teaching him things I taught as the [Los Angeles] Kings’ skating coach for the last four years and we’ve been working on that. So, he’s really coming along.
“A lot of what I use I learned from [Kings development staff] Nelson Emerson, Mike Donnelly, Mike O’Connell, [Kings coaches] Darryl Sutter, John Stevens, I got to spend a lot of time with those guys. So, stuff I learned there, I’m able to teach here.”
In his first season with the Steelheads, Moverare helped lead the club to their first-ever OHL Final and even helped lead Sweden to a silver medal at the 2018 World Juniors.
This past season, Moverare scored once and added 14 assists in 26 games for the Reign, all the while showing off his masterful discipline by not collecting a single penalty.
2020-21 marked an auspicious start to the North American professional ranks for Moverare, making himself a bright future in southern California.
“I think maybe he might be the one that kind of surprised me the most out of everybody,” Wroblewski concluded of Moverare.
When and if he competes for a spot on the Kings’ blueline next season, Jacob Moverare is miles better now than he was this time last year — and that has not gone unnoticed, nor unappreciated.