I recently came across an article about the top college free agents who will be signing with NHL teams in the coming weeks, as soon as their teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. Next weekend NCAA hockey will be entering the conference championship phase, at which point some teams and NHL hopefuls will be eliminated, marking the beginning of the college free agency period. The article is linked here.
The top two guys on this list are defensemen, and while after last night's 5-2 loss to Dallas may suggest we need defensive help, that is simply not the case. With 3 young starting offensive D-men (Doughty, Martinez, Voynov) and another who may have to wiggle his way into the rotation later (Muzzin), there will be no room for puck moving defensemen coming out of college. While the Kings are a bit more aged with stay-at-home defensemen (Mitchell & Scuderi), we still have Greene in his prime as well as the youth of Keaton Ellerby and have already drafted Derek Forbort, who is currently playing out his Junior year at North Dakota. While it would be nice to have a defenseman with the size of Junior Andrej Sustr (6-8 225 and only 22 years old), the guy will have little incentive to sign with the Kings due to our defensive depth. This essentially eliminates the top two college free agents from the Kings' radar.
The next college hopeful on the list is Rylan Schwartz. The Saskatchewan native and current Senior alternate captain at Colorado College has 42 points in 33 games this season (15G, 27A) with 148 points in 148 games over his college career (54G, 94A). Rylan, the older brother of St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, is a very complete, physical player. Think Kyle Clifford. He's been nominated for the Hobey Baker award, college hockey's Heisman Trophy for the best player. Since he comes from a small school (Colorado College has a student body of around 2,000), he probably will not receive enough votes and will in all likelihood, not win the award. Despite this, he remains a player that can make a significant impact immediately, as well as long-term. Fun fact: during his Junior year he scored back-to-back hat tricks against North Dakota during a Friday/Saturday series. No doubt this player will make a significant impact on any team that signs him, the Kings included. I believe he is the kind of player that is the perfect fit for Darrell Sutter's system. The only question is, do we have the room for him and would Lombardi pull the trigger? I don't believe so, but the fact remains that this is a guy the Kings should take a serious look at before other teams get the chance to sign him.
The other name that immediately stood out to me from this article is that of Alex Krushelnyski, coincidentally also from Colorado College. His father, Mike Krushelnyski, was one of the two players (along with Marty McSorley) that Wayne Gretzky personally requested be traded with him to our Los Angeles Kings. During his time with the Kings, Mike scored one of the Top 50 goals of all time. While looking for the video (unsuccessfully) of Mike's OT winner against the Calgary Flames, I came across a pair of Alex goals from the past two seasons. This one, apparently from just last weekend, and an OT penalty shot from last season. The article mentions that Alex is only a Junior and there is no word yet on whether he will return for his Senior year, but it would be great to see the name Krushelnyski emblazoned on a Kings jersey once again, either this year, next year, or sometime after.