Kings Augment Strong Defensive Core with Brickley Signing

The Los Angeles Kings are going into their pivotal Good Friday match-up against their bitter rivals, the Anaheim Ducks, on a major high. On Thursday night, the team was galvanized by the Jeff Carter effect, as the star center netted a hat-trick in a colossal 4-2 victory over the lowly Arizona Coyotes. The good times did not end there for Kings fans.

Earlier in the day, the team bolstered an already strong defensive unit with by signing the undrafted free agent, Daniel Brickley. Terms of the contract have yet to be disclosed. The Kings’ social team confirmed the signing as well as a press conference scheduled for Friday in Salt Lake City, in the following tweet:

Getting to Know Daniel Brickley

Brickley had been regarded as the top player available in college free agency. As per Elliotte Friedman’s most recent “31 Thoughts” segment, the defender had narrowed his list of desired destinations earlier in the week to a few teams, which, in addition to the Kings, included the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings.

Brickley’s Got Roots

Brickley has the unique distinction of being born in Sandy, Utah. A quaint city in Salt Lake County with a population of roughly 88,000, Sandy has produced NFL players, Doug Jolley and Derek Shouman, but had not registered a single NHLer, until now. And when Brickley does don a Kings jersey, he will join teammate Trevor Lewis as the only active NHL players who were born in the “Beehive State”. It is unclear if this happenstance impacted Brickley’s decision at all but it’s a nice narrative either way.

Trevor Lewis from the state of Utah
Brickley will soon join Lewis as the league’s only Utah-born players playing in the NHL. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite not being born in a hockey hotbed, the 23-year-old has the game in his blood. His father, Matt Brickley, played and refereed professionally, though not in the NHL. When asked who his inspiration was to play hockey in an interview with the Buffalo News, the newly signed King unequivocally said, “My father. He’s a big inspiration to me. He taught me how to play hockey, skate, stickhandle, shoot and all that good stuff. He’s a role model. I look up to him.”

The Brickley hockey connection does not end there. His uncle, Andy Brickley, was a 14-year NHL veteran and is currently the Boston Bruins’ color commentator for the New England Sports Network (NESN). In addition, Andy’s son and Daniel’s second cousin, Connor Brickley, is a second-year center for the Florida Panthers. Connor has the dubious distinction of being traded from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Panthers in 2016, then being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft in the summer of 2017, then being released by the Golden Knights and being re-signed by the Panthers just two weeks later.

Connor Brickley Panthers
Cousin Connor Brickley is in his second NHL season with the Panthers. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brickley’s Got Game

Daniel stands at an impressive six-foot-three, weighing in at a touch over 200 pounds. For the past three seasons, he has honed his craft at the University of Minnesota – Mankato. There he formed a potent partnership with Buffalo Sabres defenseman, Casey Nelson. His offensive output has progressed every year, culminating in a 35-point campaign in 40 games this season.

Despite not being the swiftest of skaters nor possessing a booming shot, the left-handed Brickley does provide offense from the back-end. The following tweet from Minnesota State’s social team demonstrates the defender’s pre-game ritual that shows off his “dangles”:

Brickley’s overall game is still a work in progress. He has been known to have mental lapses in his own zone but has progressively become more consistent defensively. Such progression has given the youngster the “late bloomer” moniker, which had many NHL general managers intrigued at the prospect of securing his services.

Brickley’s Got Competition

Although the immediate plan for Brickley is up in the air, he will likely be sent to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, to help the team in their imminent playoff journey. Should this come to fruition, he would be joining top prospect, Paul Ladue, and talented youngster, Jordan Subban, to help solidify the team’s defensive core.

To make the NHL, in addition to the competition on the Reign roster, Brickley would need to supplant one of the solid, incumbent core of Kings defenders, namely the likes of upstart Derek Forbort, Kevin Gravel and/or Christian Folin, who each play supporting roles to stalwarts, Drew Doughty, Dion Phaneuf, Jake Muzzin and Alex Martinez. Furthermore, Brickley has long-term competition in the junior ranks in the form of top defensive prospect, Kale Clague.

Kale Clague Brandon Wheat Kings
Clague is widely viewed as the Kings’ number one defensive prospect. (Photo by Rob Wallator/CHL Images)

Regardless of when Brickley makes his NHL debut, the signing is an astute one by Kings general manager Rob Blake. Kings fans can expect to have a very solid defensive core for a long, long time.