Kings prospect Tyler Toffoli during an exhibition game against the Phoenix… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
For the light-scoring Kings, having the leading scorer of the Ontario Hockey League and the top scorer in Canada's major junior leagues on the ice at the Toyota Sports Center on Monday was a little bit like Christmas in July.
The first scrimmage of the Kings' summer development camp was a big day for right wing Tyler Toffoli, who led the OHL with 108 points last season, and right wing Linden Vey, who led the three major junior leagues with 116 points. Each took a step forward last season and both want to use this camp to get noticed and get a step closer to the NHL.
"You just want to come in here and show the progress you've been making," said Toffoli, the 47th overall pick in the 2010 entry draft. "There hasn't really been much summer so far. You had to work as hard as you could to come in here in the best shape possible, just show you're working hard. Then you can come into the main camp and just put even more impression."
Toffoli, 19, credited his improved conditioning for his leap from 37 goals and 79 points for the Ottawa 67s in 2009-10 to 57 goals and 108 points last season.
"In my second year of junior I wasn't in the best shape," he said. "I still did pretty well. I just want to get myself in better shape. That's what my game really needs to be improved on."
Once he started scoring, "I just wanted to get more and more," he said. "I went into the season hoping to get more than 37, which I had the year before. I beat that, and if I go back my goal is going to be to beat 57. You just want to keep getting better as each year goes by."
After his junior team's season ended Toffoli signed a tryout agreement with the Kings' American Hockey League farm team in Manchester, N.H., playing one regular-season game and five playoff games and gaining experience against bigger, stronger opponents.
"I just went in there hoping for the best. I got a lot of opportunity and it was a lot of fun," he said. "All the guys were really nice to me, coming in so late in the season, and they let me just step right in and play my game."
Ron Hextall, the Kings' assistant general manager, said Toffoli still can improve. "He's got to round out his game a little bit but I think the offensive part of his game is absolutely outstanding and that's the hardest part to teach," Hextall said.
"He's been working on his skating. I see a slight improvement. He's got to continue to work on it. But overall he's come a long ways. He had a great year last year."
Vey, who will be 20 on Sunday, went from 24 goals and 75 points for Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League in 2009-10 to 46 goals and 116 points last season. He also credited his success to better fitness.
"Last summer I spent a lot of time training here with the team in Los Angeles," he said. "I always struggled a little bit with conditioning. Last year I made big strides and it helped me to be more consistent throughout the whole year.…
"When we'd have three games in three nights I could play at a high level each night, where a couple seasons before I'd have a good first game and have to take the next couple games a little slower. When you're in condition you can play more consistent throughout the whole season."
Hextall said Kings executives were pleased to see Vey's production soar as he gained junior experience.
"He's a very skilled player. He's got very good hockey sense and he sees the ice well and he just makes the right play at the right time and we're excited about him," Hextall said. "He's a good prospect. His skill certainly stands above most guys."
The camp will conclude public workouts Tuesday with a scrimmage from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and a practice for one of the two groups. Admission is free. An impressive crowd took advantage of that Monday.
Center Anze Kopitar is "on course" in his recovery from an ankle injury that required surgery in late March, Hextall said. Kopitar hasn't resumed skating but has been running and working out off-ice in his native Slovenia. The Kings' medical personnel have been in touch with doctors at Kopitar's rehab clinic and have been able to regularly monitor his progress.
Hextall also said he wasn't aware of anything new having happened on a contract for restricted free agent defenseman Drew Doughty. It's believed the sides haven't talked recently.