Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown has begun! 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 3, 2018, when the 2018-19 NHL season begins.
We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our sixth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Coming in at #4 is Jaret Anderson-Dolan.
Age: 19 (September 12, 1999)
2017-18 Team: Spokane Chiefs (WHL), Ontario Reign
2017-18 Statistics: WHL: 70 GP, 40 G, 51 A, 91 P (Playoffs: 7 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 P); AHL: 5 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P (Playoffs: 3 GP, no points)
Jewels Reader Ranking: 4
Jewels Staff Ranking: 4
Last Year’s Ranking: 6
When the Kings selected Jaret Anderson-Dolan in the second round of the 2017 NHL entry draft, he was seen as a potential steal. Having just turned 17, he had barely made the cut for draft eligibility and flew below the radar despite what many scouts felt was first-round talent.
There were also speculation that some teams (inexplicably, though unfortunately perhaps, unsurprisingly) questioned whether his upbringing would be a detriment to his development. As I am sure most of you know, Anderson-Dolan’s hyphenated surname comes from his two mothers, a family structure that many hockey men are unfamiliar with and some clearly uncomfortable with.
Fortunately the Kings would not buy into such nonsense. “If anybody had a problem with his family situation, they either should – I guess I can’t swear – they should go screw themselves and find another job,” is what Kings’ director of amateur scouting Mark Yannetti had to say when asked about WHL teams apparently passing on Anderson-Dolan due to his upbringing.
Which is not to say that Anderson-Dolan should only be defined by his somewhat unique family situation, as he has done nothing but reward the Kings for their faith in his skillset over the past season. A smallish two-way center, Anderson-Dolan is known for his motor. His speed borders on elite, though that quickness also manifests itself in his shot, passes and decision making.
Before the draft, prospect guru Corey Pronman said, “His skill is slightly above-average, but he makes plays because he’s quick. Quick feet, quick twitches in his hands, quick decisions and a quick shot — yes, there’s a particular adjective that defines this player.”
Pronman has updated his assessment a year later. Ranking him fourth in the Kings system this year, he just about gushes, “He was one of the best players in the WHL this season. He has great speed, plays hard, but I was really impressed this season by the level of skill and playmaking he showed on top of his quality shot.”
After finishing 15th in the WHL in scoring, Anderson-Dolan made his professional debut with the Ontario Reign, appearing in five regular-season games and registering two assists. He also got into three playoff games before the Reign were eliminated, gaining value exposure to high-level hockey against fully-developed players.
Now working out with the real-life Kings, Anderson-Dolan’s trajectory continues to rise. Noted as their best player in the Kings’ otherwise forgettable showing at the rookie tournament in Las Vegas, Anderson-Dolan is setting the bar rather high for himself.
“They want me to push for a roster spot,” he said. “That’s something they’ve been talking about with me for a while. That’s been my goal all summer.” While it is unlikely he makes the jump this season, he is expected to get a long look in camp. After all, with the health of top prospect Gabe Vilardi still in question, it is not totally unfathomable that room could be made for the young rookie.
In the more likely scenario that he returns to junior, he will enter his age-19 season and will be expected to dominate. Wearing the “A” the last two seasons, JAD is an important cog in the Chiefs’ attack. Already lauded for his two-way play, this year his focus will be on building strength and improving his face-off skills.
With one more year of development, he will be eligible to play in the AHL next year. At the very least, he seems likely to join the Reign again at the end of this season for their playoff run. Should things continue to move in the direction that they are, that could be a short-lived stint in the AHL, as his professional career seems very likely to begin in Los Angeles, whether this year or next.
His speed and skill are NHL-ready. His hockey IQ is advanced for his age. His work ethic and tenacity are those unteachable traits that separate the prospects from the pros. Once his body catches up with the rest of him, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and the NHL are an inevitability.