Blake Lizotte grew up in Lindstrom, Minnesota, playing high school hockey as a teenager. His father passed away when Lizotte was just 14 years old, providing an obstacle besides size as he attempted to further his hockey career. He moved on to play juniors with the Fargo Force of the USHL in Fargo, North Dakota, where he was awarded captaincy in the 2016-17 season, putting 65 points to his name in 56 games.
St. Cloud State University took on Lizotte starting in the 2017-18 season where he was the alternate captain, putting up 27 points in 39 games. In the 2018-19 season, he passed the point per game mark, as he was able to score 42 points in 37 games. In that same season, he got this first shot with the Los Angeles Kings, playing one game. In the 2019-20 season, he played his first full campaign with LA, an impressive one. As a 22-year-old center, he will be a big part Los Angeles’ roster for next season, and possibly beyond.
Lizotte’s Size Issues Are Not Holding Him Back
Lizotte is one of the smallest players in the NHL, standing at just 5′ 7″, 172 pounds. Although he may not be a physical player like 5′ 4″ Nathan Gerbe, he holds his own. He tallied 42 hits in the 2019-20 season, not winning him any awards.
Even though he is not physical, he can still control the puck. He recorded a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 56.5 last season. This statistic is his Corsi for (shots+blocks+misses) minus his Corsi against. When the CF% is above 50, it means the Kings controlled the puck a majority of the time with this player on the ice. So, even though he is not the biggest player out there, it means nothing in terms of control issues with him on the ice.
Lizotte Made a Quiet Entrance Into the NHL
Lizotte was never drafted into the NHL, rather, he made the team directly out of training camp. Prior to making the team as a full-time player, he only played one game with the Kings. This game was against the Vegas Golden Knights, four days after he signed with the team, in early April of 2019.
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Lizotte also went from zero to 100 in the NHL. Jumping directly into his first full season, he was able to put up 23 points in 65 games. Very few players who are not anticipated first-round picks are able to do this. He made his way onto the second line this season, as well as the second power-play unit. That’s pretty impressive considering age, size, experience, and other factors that one might think could have held him back.
An Even Bigger Role Awaits Lizotte in 2020-21
Considering Lizotte’s 2019-20 season, there is no reason to expect that he will not play a big role in LA next season. Hopefully, fans can see another big step from him in the coming season, as he has some serious competition coming up to the Kings.
With other centers like Gabriel Vilardi and Alex Turcotte pushing for full-time positions on the team in the coming seasons, Lizotte will have to continue to improve to cement his place in Los Angeles. With so much depth down the middle, it is possible that he could get moved in the next few seasons, but it is highly unlikely that will happen during the 2020-21 season. This is because he is a small player who doesn’t play like one, in a league of big guys.
Energizer BunnyKings coach Todd McLellan on what he calls Lizotte
This is a big part of why Lizotte is so important to the franchise at this point. Although he is a young player who is not scoring an absurd amount of points, he leads by example in a group of guys his age. To have a player like this on a rebuilding team is vital, as it gives the young players someone their age to relate to, but also follow.