Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top 20 prospects in the system.
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August 31-in-31: Los Angeles Kings
After a lowly and uneventful last season that saw the Los Angeles Kings finish second last in the NHL, they kick started their offseason with a strong showing at the draft. They followed up their restocking of prospects by adding some depth signings and coming to terms with a few of their own free agents including Michael Amadio, Daniel Brickley, Matt Roy, Sheldon Rempal, Cal Petersen and newly acquired 2019 NHL draft selections Samuel Fagemo and Tobias Bjornfot. With development camp now complete and NHL training camps fast approaching the battles for positions are already well underway, and the jostling for spots in every level within the organization is heating up.
With many young players set to make an impression and eager to begin their professional hockey careers many players have moved up the organizational ranks and taken the next step.
Mikey Anderson spent last season in the NCAA playing for the University of Minnesota Duluth where he excelled in an all situations, shut down role logging major minutes. He also captained the Americans to a silver medal in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. He will make the jump to the American Hockey League and likely continue in a similar role this season. Other defencemen that will likely join Anderson in beginning their professional careers are Guelph Storm teammates Markus Phillips and Sean Durzi after a successful season that saw them capture an OHL championship.
Similar to the defence core many forwards will be graduating into the AHL and start their professional careers with the Ontario Reign, including centers Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Rasmus Kupari. Kupari will be coming over from Europe after finishing his loan with Karpat, which may pose a challenge for the center having to acclimate himself with the size of the rink. Dolan will also be adjusting to playing with bigger players at a faster pace coming from the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. Swedish winger Johan Sodergran fresh off signing a three-year entry level contract made a strong impression during development camp last month, will also likely start this year with the Reign, after spending last season in the SHL.
Notables that will be graduating to the NHL level after spending last season elsewhere include Carl Grundstrom and Nikolai Prokhorkin. Grundstrom played most of last season in the AHL splitting time between the Toronto Marlies and Ontario Reign, while appearing in 15 games with the Kings to end the year posting five goals in that time. Prokhorkin was signed to a one-year entry level deal after spending the last six years playing in the KHL. The big center will look to prove himself on the big stage and build off last season that saw him score 41 points in as many games.
Newly selected center Alex Turcotte will also be graduating from the US National Team Development Program to join fellow USNTDP Cole Caufield playing for the University of Wisconsin in the NCAA.
Alex Turcotte is the obvious choice as the biggest riser in the Kings prospect pool because of his immense talent level and two way ability. Turcotte was selected with the Kings fifth overall selection in the 2019 Entry Draft, is still a few years away from breaking into the NHL but with some time spent maturing at the college level and working with Kings staff it should be a worthwhile wait.
Goaltender Cal Petersen who spent last year as the starting netminder for the Ontario Reign, recently agreed to a three-year extension with the team. The structure of his extension is what is important, as the first year will see Petersen have two-way contract status as opposed to the one-way status in the second and final year of the deal. With Quick only getting older and more injury prone, and back-up goaltender Jack Campbell becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, it is easy to see the Kings trust in the young goaltender. He has a clear runway to the NHL stage as early as next season.
Nikolai Prokhorkin has also become a hot topic in the Kings system. There was never much concern regarding his talent and abilities but rather his willingness to return to the NHL, after spending most of his career in his native Russia. The signing of a one-year entry level deal put any questions of his return to rest. The big body forward will suit up for the Kings this season and could make a splash alongside fellow Russian and international teammate Ilya Kovalchuk.
At the top of the biggest fallers in the organization is former first round selection in 2017 Gabriel Vilardi. There is no question Vilardi holds the tools to be an NHL player but the concerns regarding his health are making him slide in the organizational depth charts. Vilardi is suffering from chronic back issues which has limited him to only suit up in four games for the Reign last season. Until his injury woes are set aside it is hard to view him as highly in the prospect pool that he once was.
Matt Luff has already began his professional career and has been up and down between the AHL and NHL last season. The right winger is a gritty forward that provides energy and scoring upside. However, with the amount of depth in the Kings organization he will really have to prove his worth this year, as he is beginning to feel the squeeze between the veterans and young guns vying for a spot in the lineup each night.
Signed out of St. Cloud State University near the end of last season Blake Lizotte is in a similar position as many other players in the Kings system. The plethora of depth especially down the middle of the ice which is Lizotte’s natural position is cause for concern. He suited up for the Kings last regular season game last season but will need to impress early in training camp with many other centermen battling for the same spot. A little internal competition never hurt anyone but it is possible Lizotte is out casted if production doesn’t meet expectations.
Prospect Depth Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Arthur Kaliyev Alex Turcotte Matt Luff
Carl Grundstrom Gabriel Vilardi Samuel Fagemo
Bulat Shafufigullin Rasmus Kupari Johan Sodergran
Andre Lee Jaret Anderson-Dolan Sheldon Rempal
Top Twenty Fantasy Prospects
- Alex Turcotte
- Rasmus Kupari
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan
- Cal Petersen
- Kale Clague
- Gabriel Vilardi
- Arthur Kaliyev
- Akil Thomas
- Nikolai Prokhorkin
- Carl Grundstrom
- Samuel Fagemo
- Mikey Anderson
- Johan Sodergran
- Kim Nousiainen
- Matt Luff
- Tobias Bjornfot
- Markus Phillips
- Aiden Dudas
- Sean Durzi
- Matthew Villalta
Feel free to follow me at @JulzHockeyNewz for more updates on LA Kings prospects and all things hockey.