Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown continues, and this week you’ll see some of these players in action! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 5, 2017, when the 2017-18 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our fifth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Kicking off the second half at #12: Alex Iafallo.
2016-17 Team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA, NCHC)
2016-17 Statistics: 42 GP, 21 G, 30 A, 51 P
Current NHL Projection (via NHLe): 82 GP, 17 G, 24 A, 41 P
Jewels Reader Ranking: 12
Jewels Staff Ranking: 12
I’ll admit it: when I got to Alex Iafallo’s name on my prospects ballot, I was mostly like:
Iafallo’s signing as a free agent at the completion of his college season flew under my radar. I stopped paying much attention to the Frozen Four once my team of preference was eliminated, so I missed much of the talk about Iafallo, and his subsequent signing.
Turns out he’s a pretty exciting player to watch!
Iafallo had a breakout season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he set career highs in points all around. He blew past his previous college high of 11 goals and 25 points, collecting 21 goals and 51 points overall. Iafallo had 14 multi-point games, including a seven-game streak at the end of the season and through the beginning of the Frozen Four playoffs. He was held off the scoresheet only eight times, and his team lost five of those games.
Since the beginning of March, no player in Division I has scored more points than Minnesota Duluth's Alex Iafallo. pic.twitter.com/qLRqlu2Gvx— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 6, 2017
He’s got a knack for scoring big goals at big moments. Like this:
Here is Alex Iafallo's go-ahead goal ... pic.twitter.com/Uelq8y8jro— UMD Athletics (@UMDBulldogs) March 12, 2017
He was UMD’s most valuable player in 2016-17, and for good reason. Take a look at this list of accolades:
A 2016-17 American Hockey Coaches Association first team All-American, Iafallo tied for 12th nationally in scoring with a UMD-leading 51 points on 21 goals and 30 assists, becoming, in the process, the first Bulldog to crack the 50-point plateau in five seasons. He also potted the fifth-most game winners (six, the last coming in the waning seconds of UMD's 2-1 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal triumph over Harvard University) of any NCAA I skater and finished a career-high +22 on the year. In addition to being named to the NCAA Frozen Four, the NCAA West Regional and North Star College Cup All-Tournament Teams, Iafallo was chosen the the Most Valuable Player at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff after leading the Bulldogs to their first title at that event.
Pretty good, right?
Iafallo’s been turning heads at the Kings’ rookie camp, showing off his hands and his speed. He’s someone the Kings had their eye on for quite some time, in hopes of being able to sign him as a free agent, so it’s encouraging to see that it actually worked out. He participated in the Kings’ development camp earlier this summer, and worked individually with development staff earlier this summer as well, so he’s clearly committed and driven to catching on with the Kings’ system and the nuances of NHL hockey quickly.
He’s already being talked about as if he’s someone who could make a play for a spot on the team out of camp. The biggest hindrance to getting Iafallo up with the Kings is a lack of an available roster spot, given the logjam especially in the bottom six. But anything can happen, and if he adapts as easily to pro hockey as the team is hoping, we may see him jump up the top prospect list very quickly.