Like they’ve done with defense under Dean Lombardi‘s watch, the Los Angeles Kings continue to stress size moving forward. While the silver-and-black do have some big prospects in their system, there is one in particular who deserves a bit of extra attention — and it’s not because he has such a great name.
At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Chaz Reddekopp certainly fits the Kings’ bill as far as his physical attributes go, but there is more to the 19-year-old’s game than just his size. Having just finished his third full season with the WHL‘s Victoria Royals, Reddekopp has progressively become a better defenseman. In fact, in each of the last three seasons, the native of West Kelowna, B.C., has increased his assists and plus-minus totals, indicating that not only is Reddekopp more involved in his team’s offensive production but that he is an overall asset to his team’s success when he’s on the ice.
Late last season, I spoke with Royals head coach Dave Lowry about Reddekopp’s progression, where his strengths lie and which areas he could improve upon. But, according to Lowry, size isn’t Reddekopp’s most glaring contribution. In addition, the coach raves about Reddekopp’s desire to get better.
“I think his biggest contribution is his ability to play against the other team’s top lines and to play a simple, strong-structured game,” Lowry said. “He continues to work on his game every day.”
A veteran of 19 seasons and just under 1,100 games, Dave Lowry certainly knows what it takes to get to the NHL, so there may not be a better coach for Reddekopp at this juncture. Lowry also took part in over 100 playoff games being an integral piece to the Florida Panthers‘ march to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996 and again in 2004 when the Calgary Flames (under head coach Darryl Sutter) came within one game of winning Lord Stanley’s chalice.
Lowry, whose son Joel is a prospect with the Kings, has certainly appreciated Reddekopp’s increased toughness this past season. The youngster’s toughness mixed in with his defensive skills and two-way play makes him an ideal fit for the Kings’ defensive model. Using his size to his advantage, Reddekopp went from 53 penalty minutes in 2014-15 to a whopping 102 this past season. With that said, though, Lowry admits that there is room for the young blueliner to harness his size.
“I think the biggest thing with Chaz is he’s still learning to use his size,” Lowry said. “He understands that he can play a physical game, but I think that he’ll become an even bigger player when he continues to get better with his stick.”
While he did admit that there is room to get better, Dave Lowry summed Redekopp’s progression in a positive way.
“I think his defending is good. His skating stride is strong. The one area that he’s going to have to continue to get better at is that he’s going to have to become a quicker player. In the next year-and-a-half, I think he’ll be ready to move on and play at the next level.”
As of now, the Kings have yet to sign Reddekopp to an entry-level contract. They do, however, have until 2017 to do so, so stay tuned.