Kings Prospect Report: Checking on the Reign

Take a virtual trip down the 10 with us...

The constant joke about Kings prospects is: “prospects? what prospects? we haven’t had a draft pick in 1000 years!” (Yes, even I’m guilty of this joke.) But the truth is, while there isn’t an obvious Patrik Laine or a Zach Werenski in the Kings’ back pocket, they do have some talented guys who are working on being able to take the leap to the NHL. Today we’ll look at the skaters stashed down the road in Ontario, many of whom you are already familiar with; stay tuned for a separate piece soon that will introduce you to the prospects who haven’t gone pro yet.

Michael Mersch, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): Mersch got his taste of the NHL last season and in his third year as a pro, is continuing to emerge as a leader on the Reign. He went through a pretty prolonged goal drought, not scoring at all between October 28 and December 2.  Things are looking up for the Illinois native as he’s added three more goals, including a two-goal night against Tucson on Friday. Mersch leads the team in shots, and has had games where he’s put five, six, seven shots on net without any luck, so it was only a matter of time for his shooting to correct itself. (2011 draft pick, 4th round)

Adrian Kempe, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): Consistency is still the major need in the smooth-skating Swede’s game, as he’s only got seven points so far this season (4G, 3A in 19 games). Mike Stothers called Kempe out for discipline recently in somewhat of a backhanded compliment, saying “you can’t have the best skater in the league take four minors in the last two games”. The feet are there but everything else is still coming together at the AHL level for one of the Kings’ top prospects. (2014 draft pick, 1st round)

Jonny Brodzinski, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): Brodzinski is already off to a good start in his second pro year. With 17 points in 20 games (7G, 10A), Brodzinski currently leads the team in points. He’s on pace to surpass last year’s points total (28 points, 65 games). He has five goals in his last ten games, including three games that were two-point performances. (2013 draft pick, 5th round)

Mike Amadio, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): Amadio led his OHL team in scoring for two years prior to signing his ELC with the Kings. In his last year with the North Bay Battalion, Amadio had 98 points in the regular season and another 18 in the playoffs. The adjustment to pro hockey has been a bit slower for him, with some streaky performances. He had a five-game point streak through early November, with three goals and three assists. He’s totaled 12 points in 20 games (5G, 7A) so far this season. (2014 draft pick, 3rd round)

Justin Auger, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): Auger has been a fairly reliable middle-six player this year, his third professional season after spending three years with the Guelph Storm in the OHL. He has ten points (6G, 4A) in 19 games played and missed one game as a scratch, with a minor lower body injury. (2013 draft pick, 4th round)

Joel Lowry, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): The 2011 draft pick is in his second year as a pro after finishing all four years at Cornell. He hasn’t had a great season, has been a healthy scratch for several games, and otherwise is spending most of his time in the bottom six with other players who aren’t generally considered prospects or likely NHL call-ups. Lowry only has two points, both assists, in 11 games. He had a strong playoffs last season, but so far has struggled to reproduce that performance. (2011 draft pick, 5th round)

Patrick Bjorkstrand, forward (Ontario Reign, AHL): The Danish center was signed as a free agent after having spent parts of the past three years in the KHL, as well as representing his country in international play. He’s only gotten into five games so far, registering three goals and one assist. (Three of those points -- 2G, 1A -- were all recorded in his first game of the season.) (2016, free agent)

Paul LaDue, defense (Ontario Reign, AHL): LaDue has eased into his AHL career after spending three years at the University of North Dakota. He’s been on second and third pairing duties primarily, skating alongside Rob Scuderi for the past few games. LaDue has one goal and eight assists in 17 games played. He scored his only goal back in early November and has been relatively quiet as of late, but had a two-point night, both primary assists, against the Checkers on Saturday. (2012 draft pick, 6th round)

Alex Lintuniemi, defense (Ontario Reign, AHL): The big Finnish defenseman (6’2”, 214lbs.) is off to a slow start this season with just two points, both assists, in 12 games played.  He hasn’t been an offensive dynamo at any time in his career (his career high in points is 7G, 28A in 58 games during his second season with the Ottawa 67’s) but it would be nice to see him start to pitch in more in gameplay. (2014 draft pick, 2nd round)

Damir Sharipzyanov, defense (Ontario Reign, AHL): The free agent signee has played seven games with the Reign and ten with the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL). He hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet yet for Ontario. He’s gone back and forth a bit between the two leagues and just served a one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of play. (2015, free agent)

Zach Leslie, defense (Ontario Reign, AHL): Leslie, in his second year as a pro, has been playing mostly second and third pairing minutes.  He sat out the beginning of the season due to a lower body injury suffered in the preseason, but has played 18 games since. He scored his second goal of the season against the Checkers on Saturday, breaking a goal drought that stretched all the way back to October 21, his first game of the season. With eight points in 18 games, he’s already surpassed his 2015-16 points total (five assists in 30 games). (2013 draft pick, 6th round)

Kurtis MacDermid, defense (Ontario Reign, AHL): MacDermid, who went undrafted but was signed to an ELC back in 2012, went pro last season after splitting his junior career between the Owen Sound Attack and Erie Otters. He’s 6’5” and 208 lbs., so size was probably a factor in that signing. He’s got six points in his last ten games (2G, 4A) but is probably most notable for being second on the team in penalty minutes (49, right behind Michael Latta’s 53). Last season, he was the Reign’s penalty leader, with 121, miles ahead of the next person down the list (Ryan Horvat, 91 PIM). (2015, free agent)