After an extended run that saw the Los Angeles Kings capture two Stanley Cups, the franchise is re-tooling its roster. Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and superstar defenseman Drew Doughty are all over the age of 30, so general manager Rob Blake is filling up the pipeline with some quality young pieces.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman released his annual rankings of under-22 prospects on each NHL team and has the Kings ranked No. 13, nine spots below where he had them last season:
“I think Kings fans probably thought this system would be ranked higher than it currently is given how many high picks they’ve had recently and, for the most part, the success of those young picks at various levels. I think there’s a lot of great young talent in this pipeline. It is possible a year or two from now, the Kings have a ton of young pieces on the roster making noise and providing hope for the future. Almost all of their top young talent is still outside of the NHL, though and there is a lot of projection as opposed to NHL certainty with this organization. Also, they lack that true young game-breaker, which they could get with the No. 2 pick.”
Pronman’s top five prospects on the Kings are: 1) Samuel Fagemo, 2) Arthur Kaliyev, 3) Alex Turcotte, 4) Gabe Vilardi, 5) Tobias Bjornfot.
Fagemo had 22 points (13 goals, nine assists) for Frolunda in the SHL this past season. The 20-year-old winger is a bonafide goal-scorer who should be a regular in L.A.’s top-six forward grouping for a long time to come.
Kaliyev will make the jump to the pros after putting up 98 points (44 goals, 54 assists) for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL last year. The winger has all the tools to be an All-Star in the NHL, who could threaten to make the Kings’ lineup in training camp. L.A. lacks scoring punch on its roster, and if Kaliyev can show enough responsibility on the defensive end, head coach Todd McLellan will have to give him some serious consideration.
Turcotte will also make his pro debut next season, although it will most likely be with the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Turcotte is a valuable prospect who plays center. He didn’t light up the NCAA last season with the Wisconsin Badgers, but he is a 200-foot player who should excel as a “do everything” centerman when he’s ready to be an NHL player.
We have already seen what Vilardi can do. He had seven points in 10 games last season with the Kings before the league shutting down due to the pandemic. Vilardi should get some third-line minutes in the NHL next season.
What do you think of Pronman’s rankings?