Hockey's Future Ranks Kings Prospects #1

Junior prospects for LA Kings have shown immense growth during 2010-11 season - Hockey's Future

Four of the team's six junior forwards led their respective teams in scoring, not including top prospect Brayden Schenn, who might have paced the entire CHL had he played the entire season with Saskatoon. The Kings lay claim to Linden Vey, who won the WHL point crown, and Tyler Toffoli, who led the OHL in both goals and points. Without exception, each of the team's eight prospects spread amongst the CHL played a major role and progressed developmentally this past season.

WHL Brayden Schenn, C, Saskatoon Blades

[...] Next year, Schenn will jump to the pro ranks for good, likely in a secondary scoring role on the Kings roster.

Linden Vey, C/RW, Medicine Hat Tigers

Vey had a breakout season for Medicine Hat this year, establishing himself as one of the top junior players in all of Canada. On top of finishing the regular season as the WHL and CHL leading scorer with 116 points in 69 games, Vey showed no signs of fatigue in the playoffs, and currently sits second in the Dub with 25 points in 15 postseason games. [...]  Vey's biggest improvement this year was in his consistency, particularly in his willingness to play gritty, two-way hockey. Though he's not capable enough defensively to hang at the NHL level yet, he's improved by leaps and bounds since being drafted. His speed and offensive skill have also developed to the point that he can make quality plays at high speed with stick-handling ability to create time and space in coverage. Having completed his fourth year of WHL hockey, Vey will undoubtedly join the professional ranks next season. [...]

Jordan Weal, C, Regina Pats

[...] Despite being forced to deal with the loss of linemate and WHL star Jordan Eberle (EDM), Weal had a fantastic season in which he provided a majority of the team's offense, finishing fifth in the league with 96 points and leading the Pats in all major offensive categories with 43 goals and 53 assists in 72 games. No other player on the team topped the 52-point mark and the next top goal scorer on the squad had 18. [...] Weal will be headed back to the Dub for another season, though there's buzz that he might find himself dealt from Regina to a contender looking for veteran talent.

[...]

Tyler Toffoli, RW, Ottawa 67s

[...] Toffoli's biggest challenge next year will be keeping par with his impressive 2010-11 campaign for Ottawa. After showing promise as a triggerman by potting 37 goals in his draft year, Toffoli one-upped himself with eye-popping totals of 57 markers and 108 points, leading the OHL in both categories. Toffoli was the finisher on one of the most potent lines in junior hockey, lining up alongside playmaking center Ryan Martindale (EDM) and speedy cannonball Shane Prince for nearly every shift all season long. [...]  After being snubbed by Canada this year in not receiving a WJC camp invite, much less roster spot consideration, Toffoli will likely return to Ottawa next year not only hoping to propel the 67s further than the first round, but also seeking to secure a spot on a Canadian national junior team that has gone two years straight without a gold medal after winning six straight.

Maxim Kitsyn, LW, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors

Selected with a sixth-round pick largely over transfer concerns, Kitsyn came across the pond mid-season to play with Mississauga Majors of the OHL [...]. His move to Canadian junior hockey came on the heels of his impressive performance at the 2011 WJCs, where he finished third in scoring on Russia with nine points in seven games and helped propel them to a gold medal victory. It did not take Kitsyn long to adapt to the OHL with his gritty style of play. He posted 26 points in 32 regular season games and was a presence on the cycle and around the net. He's been even better in the playoffs, notching 15 points in 15 games, tying him for tops on the Majors [...] He projects as a complementary second or third line forward in the Tomas Holmstrom mold [...]  

Robert Czarnik, C, Plymouth Whalers

After a season in which Czarnik moved from playing meager minutes at the University of Michigan to a key role with Plymouth of the OHL, the young center entered this season with expectations that he would take over Tyler Seguin's (BOS) role as the team's go-to player, and did not disappoint. In 61 games, he finished tied for the team lead in points with 77 [...]. Czarnik has been dominant at times with Plymouth, displaying high-end offensive skill and a mean streak in bursts [...]. [H]is ability with the puck combined with a rapidly developing two-way game makes him an intriguing prospect that could be a good fit on the Kings' third line down the road. QMJHL

Nicolas Deslauriers, D, Gatineau Olympiques

One of the most explosive defensemen in junior hockey, Deslauriers would likely be a household name amongst hockey fans by now were it not for the unfortunate timing of knee injury immediately prior to the Canada's WJC camp. Despite his lack of exposure on the international level, it's difficult to discount the impact he's made in the QMJHL. After an off-season trade sent him to Gatineau, he stepped into the lineup and took over as the team's top defenseman, posting 43 points in 48 regular season games. More importantly, he has taken his game to the next level in the Q playoffs, totaling 17 points in 19 games and playing sound all-around hockey. [...]  Deslauriers is on pace to step into the Monarchs lineup next year and take on a major role as a two-way defenseman with puck-rushing ability, but finds himself stuck behind similar defensemen in the system, such as Viatcheslav Voynov [and] Thomas Hickey [...]. The Kings will need to do some shuffling over the summer, but there's no doubt they'll be trying to fit the rapidly improving defenseman with sky high upside into their plans.

Jean-Francois Berube, G, Montreal Juniors [...]

Lost in the Kings goaltending shuffle is Jean-Francois Berube, who despite sitting behind four quality prospects in the system is establishing himself as a potential NHL player. Berube played in 50 games for Montreal this year, finishing ranked in the top six amongst goaltenders in goals-against-average (2.60), save percentage (.902), wins (32), and shutouts (3). Playing a similar positionally sound butterfly style as that of current Kings prospect and QMJHL alum Jonathan Bernier, Berube is eligible to make the jump to the professional ranks next season, but will likely have to play his trade at the ECHL level before earning a better opportunity.

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