It’s time to announce our annual Top 25 Under 25 rankings. Two changes from last year: we’ll be doing it all in a week, AND reader rankings are playing a role. Without further ado, here’s Part 2 of the Top 25 players under the age of 25 in the Los Angeles Kings organization. Be sure to read Part 1 from yesterday.
Below are rankings 20 through 16. The most distinctive thing about this group is that the oldest is 21. Therefore, this is a group of players with a lot of uncertainty, but with that uncertainty comes promise. You won't find blue chip prospects here, but you will find some players with significant potential that have yet to reach a higher level of competition to ultimately prove themselves and shape their games for the NHL.
20. Damir Sharipzianov
Up first is a newcomer to our rankings here at Jewels. Why is Sharipzianov just now cracking our rankings at the age of 20? Prospect turnover certainly has a role to play, but consistency also has its part. While his junior stat-lines are not particularly spectacular, they've been repeatable, and the young Russian defenseman has managed to impress at camp. With a clearing of house on defense in Ontario, he is prime to earn a role on the Reign's blueline this year. Be sure more to read of his journey this year in Jon Rosen's recent piece here.
(reader ranking: 18)
19. Alexander Dergachyov
Another ranking, another Russian. Dergachyov jumps six spots from last year's rankings. Competing for ice time on a stacked SKA St. Petersburg, you won't find anything special about his numbers in the KHL. However, Alexander did manage to impress some with his showing of defensive acumen at the World Juniors last year. With a credited height of anywhere from 6'3" to 6'5" and a weight above 200 pounds, it's easy to see why the Kings took this center prospect in the third round. This is also perhaps the most uncertain ranking. Will Dergachyov come over from the KHL, or will he follow a path similar to that of Nikolai Prokhorkin? The fact of the matter is that the young center's best chance for playing time and professional development may lie in the AHL.
(reader ranking: 20)
18. Alex Lintuniemi
We round out this section with the Finnish defenseman that the Kings selected with the final pick of the 2014 second round. An off the board pick, Lintuniemi was praised for his size and the reach of his stick. Facing a crowded defensive corps int he AHL, he toiled away with big minutes in the Kings' ECHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs. With several openings on the back-end in Ontario, he now has a chance to earn a spot there and prove that he's addressed his deficiencies that were a knock against him in his draft year.
(reader ranking: 13)
17. Jacob Moverare
With the draft this year, the Los Angeles Kings increased their Swedish prospects by 100% by drafting defenseman Jacob Moverare. So, why does a 4th round pick all of the sudden jump to 18 in the rankings? For starters, LA's development staff rated him as having the highest hockey IQ of any defenseman in the draft. He seems to be another case of drafting a player with enormous potential in hopes that some physical deficiencies can be addressed. Moverare somewhat validated his promise when he became the only draft choice this year to earn an ELC.
(reader ranking: 16)
16. Spencer Watson
Watson was selected with the second to last pick of the 2014 draft. Standing at a mere 5'9", he is a classic case of a prolific scorer in juniors that is met with unending skepticism about his ability to play in the NHL. He has fallen from #14 in the rankings last year, but that may be in the noise a bit. His final year in juniors culminated in a 1.5 point per game rate, and the young forward earned his ELC this year. He will take a big step toward proving his NHL worth by playing larger competition in the AHL this year.
(reader ranking: 17)
Tomorrow: 15-11. How do our rankings compare to yours so far?