LOS ANGELES – Lukas Sillinger sat inside the Los Angeles Kings practice facility in El Segundo with Aatu Jamsen, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, to his right. A few stalls to Sillinger’s left sat Quinton Byfield, the second overall pick in that draft.
Sillinger, 21 – a forward from Regina, Saskatchewan who will skate for Arizona State for the 2022-23 NCAA season – attended the Kings development camp as an undrafted invitee. If he was nervous, he didn’t show it. After a solid first few days of the five-day camp, Sillinger scored a goal in the scrimmage on the final day.
“It was great to get out here and kind of get my feet wet,” he said. “Each and every day I feel more and more comfortable on the ice.”
With development camp starting so close to the July 8 conclusion of the NHL Entry Draft, prospects don’t have a ton of time to pack personal belongings and move to a potential new home. Some players, including goaltender Juho Markkanen, came from as far as Finland. Travel can sometimes cause issues beyond jet lag.
Markkanen didn’t have most of his goalie gear at camp. He packed his mask in a carry-on bag, but he mostly played in loaner gear during the camp.
Kings goalie prospect @juhomarkkane is playing in loaner gear. His regular equipment seems to be stuck somewhere between Dallas and LAX.
Fortunately, he brought his mask as carry-on luggage. pic.twitter.com/Qc3j5s8x0V
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) July 13, 2022
Sillinger also played in gear provided by the Kings.
“I still don’t have my equipment,” he said on the third day of camp. “My bag got lost at the L.A. airport … I flew from Regina to Vancouver, Vancouver to L.A., and I’m not sure where my bag is yet.”
Like Markkanen, Sillinger had some of his gear but had to throw together the rest.
“I got all random equipment,” he said. “My sticks came in, luckily, but that’s all.”
Sillinger was one of many players looking to impress coaches and earn an invite to the Kings’ official rookie camp in August. Many camp invitees wind up in the minor leagues, juniors or in Europe.
Others, including Sillinger, already have committed to play college hockey this upcoming season. After two years at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, where he scored 53 points in 65 games, Sillinger entered the transfer portal and headed southwest.
“After the season finished up, I was fortunate enough to go down (to ASU) for a week and kind of get my feet wet with some of the guys,” he said. “Just to get to know them.”
Sillinger grew up in a hockey household, and the sport is a family business. His brother, Cole, just finished an impressive rookie campaign with the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets. His father, Mike, played 17 years in the NHL for 12 teams and holds the league record for trades at nine. Sillinger said his knowledge of the game helped in camp.
“I think my hockey IQ stands out,” he said. “I think I’m a pretty smart hockey player, so I feel like that helps me every play on the ice.”
Sillinger was one of nine current and future Sun Devils taking part in NHL development camps this summer. Six NHL teams were fielded with players from ASU’s roster.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Robert Mastrosimone also has transferred to Arizona State, after three seasons at Boston University. Goaltender T.J. Semptimphelter played a season at Northeastern University, and joined fellow former Huskies in twins Dylan and Ty Jackson at Toronto Maple Leafs development camp. The trio will arrive in Tempe this fall.
“They’ve got a couple top guys,” Sillinger said of ASU’s program. “Mastrosimone is also going there, I’m looking forward to playing with him next year.”
ASU Ice Hockey’s list of young NHL caliber talent hasn’t only come from the most recent transfer window. Current Sun Devils goaltender Ben Kraws and forward Josh Doan, son of NHL player and Arizona Coyotes legend Shane Doan, are Coyotes prospects.
Defenseman Ty Murchison was a fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021 and played 35 games with the Sun Devils this past season. Jack Jensen, another undrafted forward, was present at Vancouver Canucks camp after a solid first season with ASU.
“Arizona is starting to become more of a hockey state,” Sillinger said. “And we’re hoping to prove that next year.”
ASU’s program is a prime example of the growth of the sport in Arizona. Sillinger said the school’s new hockey arena was a big draw for him, as was the strength of the roster. And three words spoke directly to him.
“A big part of ASU hockey is their slogan ‘Be the tradition,’” Sillinger said, “and I think (coach Greg) Powers has done a great job in kind of building that into the community.”
Kings prospect Andre Lee, a seventh-round draft pick in 2019, played against ASU this past season as a forward for UMass-Lowell. Sillinger played with Lee as a linemate in some of the camp scrimmages. Other notable players Sillinger played with include fourth-round pick Kenny Connors, sixth-round pick Jared Wright, and second-round pick Samuel Fagemo, who has played a handful of NHL games with the Kings.
Future @SunDevilHockey Lukas Sillinger and UMass-Lowell forward Andre Lee (who played ASU a few times last season) running drills together @cronkitenews @sportscronkite @CronkiteNewsLA pic.twitter.com/fG54QtsdRA
— Dexter Zinman (@The_Zin_Master) July 13, 2022
“Everybody’s really good out here, so you can’t complain,” Connors said after scrimmaging with Sillinger as a linemate. “We’re kind of playing with everybody, which is nice. You don’t really know anyone out here too well. It’s good to play with some different guys and try to build a little chemistry.”
When Sillinger arrives in Tempe this fall, he hopefully will have all his equipment. But he most certainly will have the experience, confidence and drive to play with the talent on ASU’s recently bolstered roster.