Now that the hockey season is a couple months old, it's time to start checking in on how LA's prospects are faring. Are there any glimmers of hope in LA's much-maligned prospect pool?
We'll use Rob Vollman's NHLe as our best tool for comparing prospects in different leagues. Note that NHLe has several limitations--it doesn't adjust for ice time or quality of linemates, it tells us nothing about how good a player is defensively, and this early in the season sample size is of course a huge issue. Nonetheless, because it adjusts for quality of league it is useful as a rough barometer of a prospect's offensive potential.
LA Prospects NHLe (sortable)
|Name||Age||Pos||League||GP||G||A||P||P/GM||League Translation Factor||NHLEG||NHLEA||NHLEP|
|Steven Johnson||21||D||Big 10||8||0||5||5||0.63||0.35||0||18||18|
- The big standout here is obviously Mike Amadio, who leads this list not only alphabetically but also in NHLe! Given that the 2014 third-round pick scored at rather mediocre rate in his draft year and was probably selected for his defensive rather than offensive potential, this is a pleasant surprise. I listed Amadio as a center, but he's played a lot of right wing the past couple years as well.
- Mersch and Kempe both look pretty decent, but I think Mersch is further ahead than NHLe implies. His shooting percentage (13%) seems to me quite a bit more sustainable than Kempe's (19%). Mersch is shooting much more than Kempe (82 SOG and 37 iSC to Kempe's 37 and 11). Mersch's line is also doing much better by the Corsis (meticulously tracked by Sheng), and I think it's likely that Mersch is unlucky to have only two assists.
- Spencer Watson remains an underrated Kings prospect, although at 5'8" and 170 pounds he'll likely have to become even more dynamic offensively than this if he ever wants to crack LA's NHL roster.
- No ECHL-to-NHL conversion factor exists, and that's because players very rarely jump between the leagues. In fact, players who spend significant amounts of time in the ECHL very rarely make the NHL, period.
- A rough start for Jonny Brodzinski, who has done pretty well by NHLe in years past. But the AHL season is young yet.
- NHLe has not thought much of Valentin Zykov in the past (24 NHLe in 2013-14, 23 in 2014-15), and it likes him even less this year. Part of the issue is that Zykov has not gotten much ice time in his first AHL season. With his offensive talent you have to imagine he will eventually find his way into the Reign's top six.
- No one really knows how good the Czech Extraliga is relative to the NHL (I would guess: not very), so that makes Dominik Kubalik's season hard to assess. He does lead his team in scoring despite being its second-youngest player.
- I wouldn't worry too much about Alexander Dergachyov's modest point total. He's averaging only 5:30 TOI--perfectly understandable for a teenage rookie on one of the KHL's best teams--and his shot production appears to be pretty good in those limited minutes.
- Unlike two years ago, when Brayden McNabb was clearly way ahead of the pack, right now NHLe is not much help in untangling LA's glut of AHL defensive prospects. It seems like Nick Ebert and Zach Leslie (perhaps the two prospects with the most offensive potential) are struggling to find regular minutes in Ontario.
- Overall, having just three prospects crack 30 NHLe is unimpressive. For comparison, during the 2013-14 season eight Kings prospects were over 30 NHLe. NHLe is not destiny, but it is fair to say that by this metric LA's current prospect pool is rather shallow in addition to lacking top talent.