The Kings are no longer considered one of the top prospect teams, but much of that is due to the success of the big club and prospects and picks that were traded in an attempt to maintain the success.
Despite the Kings trading their first-round pick in four of the past six drafts, they have quietly continued to gather a group of players that fit well in their system, and they have had a top team in both the NHL and AHL for a few years now.
Once a team without many good left wing options, that is currently one of their strengths. Goaltending depth is especially depleted, and the Kings will likely need to restock in the following seasons. Another major question for the Kings is what they will do with the large number of skaters currently marked for the NHL club this season, as many of the players under contract cannot go back to the NHL without passing through waivers.
Not only will there be competition for spots on the Kings’ roster this season, but some players are likely to be moved before opening night.
Los Angeles Kings’ Prospect Depth Chart:
Can play more than one position *
TOP 10 RANKINGS
This top 10 rankings list is based on projected fantasy production and takes into account the Kings’ current depth chart (prospect depth chart included above), and the players’ estimated upside, how certain it is that they will make the NHL, and how long they will have to wait to make it to the NHL.
Adrian Kempe – Although I’m expecting a strong training camp from Kempe, it’s unlikely that he sees more than a cup of coffee this season (barring significant NHL injuries). Kempe has the skill and possesses NHL speed, but will need to prove that he can consistently play at a high level to earn his spot. He will also need to put on some weight to fill out his frame.
Michael Mersch – Mersch had a spectacular season with the Reign, and Kings’ fans should expect him to be in the NHL lineup on opening night. Although he showed only flashes of his skill in his 17 games with the Kings last season, his 32 NHLe* (NHL equivalent points) was third out of all Kings’ prospects. The big question for Mersch will be where he fits in on this team, and if he can keep coach Sutter satisfied enough with his play (especially his speed and breakouts) to earn minutes. While it’s unlikely that he would start with a spot in the top six, he could find himself getting more time if injuries strike the Kings.
Mike Amadio – Amadio had 50 goals and a 98-point season for the North Bay Battalion and was the ninth-highest scorer in the OHL. He had the highest NHL translation of any of the Kings’ prospects with 38 NHLe*. He might be one of the top offensive players in the Kings’ system, but a lot will be determined by how he performs in his first full season in the AHL.
Spencer Watson – Watson’s 89 points in 64 games didn’t leave him far behind Amadio, as the 11th-highest scorer in the OHL also had the Kings’ second highest NHLe*, 36 NHL equivalent points. His jump between seasons from 48 points in 2014-15 to 89 points in 2015-16 show the strides that he took.
Paul LaDue – Ladue spent his past three seasons at University of North Dakota, which concluded with a NCAA championship. He played in three playoff games with the Reign, and will likely return to the Reign this season. The Kings had hoped to have LaDue on the Reign for all of last season, but will now get to work more closely on his development. He is a good puck-moving defenseman, and will likely figure in on the Reign power play. He could be ready for the NHL soon.
Nic Dowd – It seems possible that Dowd might pass Nick Shore and maybe even a few other centers on the depth chart, and earn third-line minutes. See more info on Dowd in the Kings Prospects on the rise section below.
Kale Clague – 1998-born Clague is a dynamic skater with an excellent pass. Although on the smaller size for the Kings’ system, he could be the most likely prospect to quarterback the L.A. power play of the future. This season, he will likely play top-pairing minutes in the WHL.
Jonny Brodzinski – Brodzinski’s first season in the AHL probably wasn’t all he had hoped for, although he did score 28 points in 65 games. In terms of NHL equivalence, he has regressed, which is not good for a sniper. However, his regression might be part of the learning curve during which he made the leap from college to pro.
Michael Eyssimont – Possessing an excellent shot, the skilled center needs to work on his speed. However, last season he was already one of the top Kings’ offensive prospects with 28 NHLe* points.
Alexander Dergachev – Disappointingly, Dergachev signed for another season in the KHL.
*NHLe was evaluated using Rob Vollman's NHLe
ON THE RISE:
Mike Amadio – As stated above, Amadio could be one of the top offensive prospects that the Kings have, but this will be an interesting season to watch him play against tougher opponents in the AHL. In 11 AHL playoff games he managed five points (0.45 points per game), but I’m predicting he will increase his points per game over the course of next season. If his trajectory continues, he could end up being a second-line center in the NHL.
Nic Dowd – Look out Nick Shore, another young center is hunting for minutes this season with the Kings. Although Dowd is actually older than Shore, he has had a long and strange development path (for example, he was born in the well-known hockey hotbed of Alabama), which culminated with being drafted in the seventh round (pick No. 198 out of 211) in the 2009 draft. Dowd has shown continual improvement, and finished second in scoring last season on the Reign with 48 points in 58 games. He got a five-game cup of coffee with the Kings last season, and did not look the least bit out of place. Not only has he proven his work ethic, Dowd would have to clear waivers next season to go back to Ontario, and the Kings would likely find a spot for him.
Dowd scores two backhand goals:
Justin Auger – The hulking winger finished a strong season with the Reign that proved that he has more offensive upside than many expected, scoring 36 points (19 goals and 17 assists). Auger proved to be a front-of-net presence with finish. As a guy many had originally projected to be a fringe NHLer, he looks more like he could end up being a third-line player that could even fill in on the power play. Auger will still need to work on his skating to get to the next level, but it’s time to raise the bar to a higher expectation.
Auger needs luck and skill to get two goals:
Spencer Watson – I’ll say it again here, Watson went from 48 points in 2014-15 to 89 points in 2015-16. This prospect is definitely on the rise.
KINGS’ PROSPECTS LOSING RANKS:
Alexander Dergachev – Although he already plays the Kings’ style of hockey, similar to a Dwight King type of player, Dergachev has signed to play another season in the KHL. Normally it would not be concerning to see a young player like Dergachev sign overseas for another year, but the Kings expected him to be in North America competing for a spot on the Reign. It looks like it will be another year of waiting, but there have been other prospects (see Prokhorkin below) that have decided against coming to the NHL.
Jack Campbell – This might be unfair to put him in this section, but Campbell has continued his descent from a top prospect to a player unlikely to see the NHL again. Although he played pretty well in the ECHL, his play in the AHL was some of the worst statistically of his career. Perhaps the Kings can turn him back on the right path?
Johnny Brodzinski – He slipped a few spots in the rankings, but as a first-year pro, a slip in production is not terribly surprising. If he has a better second season and earns more minutes, expect him to climb back up the rankings.
Nick Shore – Shore had an excellent season of possession for the Kings, and a miserable season offensively, scoring one goal and shooting 3.03 per cent. Having played over 100 NHL games, he will no longer be tracked as a prospect.
Nikolay Prokhorkin – Note that the Kings had hoped to trade him to Edmonton for Teddy Purcell, (who they signed as a free agent), but the trade fell through when Prokhorkin refused to come to North America. He has the talent, but seems content in the KHL.
Matt Mistele – He showed offensive talent, and was a Memorial Cup winner. I was surprised that the Kings decided to pass on signing Mistele to an ELC.
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Thanks for reading!
Los Angeles Kings Prospect Profiles
July 2016 Los Angeles Kings 30 in 30
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