Outlier is an accurate way to describe Alex Iafallo’s role with the Kings last season. He was typically not out there for power plays or penalty kills.
Iafallo logged fewer than 41 minutes on special teams in an almost exclusive even-strength capacity, unusual for a top-line left wing.
“We had a pretty big power-play lineup, and I knew that coming in,” Iafallo said. “I just wanted to keep playing my game.”
That will change because Kings coach John Stevens plans to mix in Iafallo on both units. Iafallo has already played more than seven minutes on the power play in the preseason as the Kings tap into his offensive instincts.
“We think he’s got a skill set that he can take some responsibility there, but at the same time, we think he can be a big contributor to our secondary offense in our top-nine group,” Stevens said.
It’s an important sophomore season overall for Iafallo, who made a successful jump to the NHL from college with a strong forecheck and offensive knack. His nine goals and 25 assists didn’t fully reflect the latter, but it was still an impressive debut season that Iafallo can build on.
Stevens put Iafallo with Adrian Kempe and Trevor Lewis for the first part of training camp, but Iafallo is back with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the top line to tap into their chemistry from last season.
Iafallo, 23, set a precedent for this year’s crop of forwards in camp who are trying to emulate his transition. Sheldon Rempal was signed out of Clarkson and draftee Mike Eyssimont played mostly at St. Cloud State last season. Defenseman Daniel Brickley is also making the jump from college.
Iafallo knows what they’re going through and said it helps to soak up what they can from the older players.
“Just try to listen,” Iafallo said. “That’s one thing that I learned was listen to everybody.”
Stevens said he will play close to an opening-night lineup in the preseason finale Saturday against the Ducks at Staples Center. He rested most of his veterans Friday in the first of back-to-back games as his staff gets a final look at prospects still in camp.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Austin Wagner, Matt Luff and Kale Clague are among those prospects, and Emerson Etem remains in camp on a tryout contract.
“We’d like to see those guys continue to improve and get another chance to be evaluated,” Stevens said.