Michael Pelech’s progress is coming slowly but surely. Signed to an AHL deal by the Manchester Monarchs last August, the former Kings draft pick started the season in Manchester, was assigned to Ontario in late October and never left.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Pelech was among the team’s largest forwards, and he used his size effectively on occasion while centering the team’s shutdown line. When Dusty Collins was in the AHL, Pelech was usually the man in the faceoff circle late in games on defensive-zone draws. He was also among the league leaders in minor penalties again — probably the biggest flaw in his game — but his minutes in key situations only went up as the year went on.
Pelech started with two goals and four assists in his first 21 games, was a healthy scratch once in December, but finished strong late (like many of his teammates) with nine goals and 19 assists in 63 games.
Here’s what he had to say before leaving the rink Tuesday:
How do you evaluate your season?
It was a disappointing year not making playoffs and everything. Second year in a row. Playoffs are probably the funnest part of hockey, so it kind of sucks.
For you individually, starting the season in the AHL, were you where you expected to be?
I don’t know. I try not to think about that sort of thing. Wherever I am, just try for hockey. Manch has got a pretty good team, they’ve got a lot of depth. It’s a pretty hard system to get into. I’m here, a good group of guys, it was a lot of fun so I’m happy about that.
Knowing that the Kings and Monarchs have been tracking your development, how do you think you developed individually?
I don’t know. I think I got a lot of things to work on. Every part of my game, I think I can improve. This summer is probably going to be a big summer for me, with training and skating and trying to develop next year. The start of the year, I’ve had a few slow starts, so I want to get off to a good start.
It seemed like you were counted on for more minutes and more critical minutes in defensive situations this year, correct?
I think if I go higher than the East Coast (League), I’m not going to be a point-getter or anything. That’s pretty much my role. Yeah, penalty killing, shutdown, that’s what I’m best at. That’s where he was using me and I thought I did a pretty good job.
What do you hope to achieve this summer training wise?
Get bigger, faster, quicker – pretty much everything, you name it. I’m pretty happy with that number (215 pounds). I felt good this season. There were no problems with being tired, but … lose a little bit of the fat, a little more muscle. You can always improve.
Where do you see yourself playing next year?
I haven’t thought about it at all. I’m going to go home, regroup. It was a tough season, so kind of get over that, and look at it, see what I want to do.