Arizona State transfer Lukas Sillinger, right, of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck during a scrimmage at the Kings Development Camp at Toyota Sports Performance Center. (Photo by Kelly Smiley/NHLI)

By Dexter Zinman

LOS ANGELES – Lukas Sillinger sat inside the Los Angeles Kings practice facility at the Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo, California. Aatu Jamsen, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, sat to his right. A few stalls to his left sat Quinton Byfield, the second overall pick in that draft.

Sillinger, a 21-year-old forward from Regina, Saskatchewan, attended the Kings development camp as an undrafted invitee. If Sillinger was nervous, he didn’t show it. After a solid first few days of the five-day camp, Sillinger was rewarded with a goal in the scrimmage on the final day.

“It was great to get out here and kind of get my feet wet,” Sillinger 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, the newly drafted prospects don’t have a ton of time to pack personal belongings and move to their potential new home. Some players, like goaltender Juho Markkanen, came from places as far as Finland. Travel can sometimes cause issues beyond jet lag.

Markkanen did not 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.




Lukas also experienced development camp in borrowed gear. Most of his personal equipment didn’t arrive on time, so he played with gear the Kings provided.

“Actually I still don’t have my equipment,” Sillinger 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, Lukas held on to some parts of his gear, but he had to throw together essentially a full set of pads for the five-day camp.

“I got all random equipment,” Sillinger said. “My sticks came in, luckily, but that’s all.”

Lukas was one of many players looking to impress coaches and earn an invite to the Kings’ official rookie camp in August. Many camp invitees are destined to play in the minor leagues, juniors, or in Europe.

Others, like Lukas, have already 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, Lukas entered the transfer portal and will play the 2022-23 NCAA season at Arizona State University.

“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,” Lukas said. “Just to get to know them.”

Sillinger grew up in a hockey household, and the sport remains a family business. Cole Sillinger, Lukas’s brother, recently finished an impressive rookie NHL campaign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. His father, Mike Sillinger, played 17 years in the NHL for 12 different teams after being traded an NHL-record nine times. Lukas knows hockey inside and out, and felt his knowledge of the game helped in camp.

“I think my hockey IQ stands out,” Sillinger said. “I think I’m a pretty smart hockey player, so I feel like that helps me every play on the ice.”

Lukas 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 has also transferred to Arizona State, arriving 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 also arrive in Tempe in the fall.

“They’ve got a couple top guys,” Sillinger said of ASU’s program. “(Robert) 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,” Lukas said. “And we’re hoping to prove that next year.”

Arizona State’s program growth is a prime example of the growth of the sport in Arizona. Lukas said the school’s brand new ice hockey arena was a big draw for him, not to mention the skill on the roster. He also referenced the mantra coined by ASU hockey coach Greg Powers when speaking about his choice to transfer to Arizona State. He says the three words spoke directly to him.

“A big part of ASU hockey is their slogan, ‘Be the tradition,’” Lukas said. “And I think Powers has done a great job in kind of building that into the community.

Like Lukas, players who earn a chance to play with top NHL prospects in these development camps, will still be able to earn opportunities in the NCAA, especially at Arizona State.

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.




“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 eventually travels to Arizona for the start of the 2022-23 Sun Devils season, he will hopefully have his equipment. But he will most certainly have the experience, confidence and drive to play with the talent on the school’s recently bolstered roster.

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