Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects.
The Los Angeles Kings took a step forward in 2021-22 with key veterans resurging while young stars had notable breakout seasons. This was enough to bring the Kings back to the postseason for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. The organization finds itself in a vastly different position than one season ago where the Kings have gone from rebuilders to potential dark horses in the Pacific Division.
The acquisitions last offseason that set the tone for the Kings with the additions of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson, making up two-thirds of the second unit. The emergence of Trevor Moore completed that line which allowed newcomers like Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev to thrive in sheltered minutes.
On the back end losing your number one defenseman is always a death sentence for a bubble playoff team. Sean Durzi had a valiant effort after earning a call-up following Drew Doughty’s wrist injury, which prompted him to get season ending surgery. Durzi played a key role for the team, logging the fifth most ice-time among all Kings who played the full season, including 2:28 per game on the powerplay. Even with the return of Doughty, if Durzi can stick on the second powerplay unit, he stands to become a valuable later round asset in your fantasy drafts.
Along with the emergence of top prospects, Adrian Kempe put up a career high in points and goals, with 35 tallies and 54 points. The breakout came at the right time for the Swedish forward in a contract year with arbitration rights, and he cashed in, signing a four-year $5.5 million AAV contract to stick with the Kings for the near future.
All these breakthroughs led to their first playoff appearance since 2017-18 where they faced off against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. At times, the team looked as if they were right where they were supposed to be, but game seven seemed to be all too familiar with their scoring woes rearing its head once again, leading to a 2-0 defeat in the deciding game.
The team wasted no time improving in the offseason by acquiring Kevin Fiala before inking him long term (8x$7.875M) weeks before the madness of the NHL Draft floor. GM Rob Blake gave up the nineteenth overall selection and defensive prospect Brock Faber. In exchange, Fiala will provide a vast improvement to a squad that managed less than three goals-per-game in 2021-22.
For the first time in years, there is reason to believe the Kings will take a step forward this upcoming campaign. With the return of Doughty, the acquisition of Fiala and the continued emergence of Byfield, Kaliyev and Kupari, the future is as bright as it has been in Los Angeles in almost a half decade.
RD Sean Durzi
Durzi filled in for the injured Drew Doughty for most of the season and logged 19 minutes a night and 2:28 on the powerplay. Mostly in sheltered minutes, Durzi is an emerging offensive force for the Kings, and could push for second powerplay time in 2022-23, but could be a candidate for the top unit if Doughty gets injured once again.
C Quinton Byfield
Byfield started the season on the wrong foot with a long-term injury at the end of the preseason, limiting him to just 40 games in the NHL. Being behind Kopitar and Danault on the depth chart can hamper his production for the near future, but Byfield should offer the Kings a great option on the third line if they choose to reunite him with Rasmus Kupari.
LW/RW Arthur Kaliyev
Still just 20 years old, Kaliyev played the entire season averaging around 12 minutes of time on ice each night. Despite the limited deployment, Kaliyev still managed to score 14 goals and 27 points. Kaliyev looks to be a key part of the future for Los Angeles and fired 195 shots. If he can get his seven percent shooting percentage up even slightly with a little more powerplay time, Kaliyev could be a prime candidate for a breakout with around 25 goals in 2022-23.
C/RW Rasmus Kupari
Kupari played most of the season with the Kings with 57 games under his belt. He spent most of his time on ice with Byfield and Vilardi and they seemed to click down the stretch. If he can find his way back to playing alongside Byfield, the upside could be there for Kupari. He is waiver exempt, so could be sent back to the AHL if he does not stand out in training camp.
C Gabriel Vilardi
Vilardi had a rough start to the season. After being placed on the COVID-19 list in early October, Vilardi spent the first half of the season with Ontario and put-up a near point-per-game pace with 38 points across 39 games. This earned him a call-up late in the season where he played meaningful minutes with Byfield and Kupari on the third line. He will need to clear through waivers to get sent back to the AHL, so the Kings will have to decide whether to give him a full-time role or let him get an opportunity elsewhere.
RD Jordan Spence
Spence earned a late season call up after putting up 42 points through 46 games played in the AHL. That translated to a short stint with the Kings in the form of seven points in 24 games. Spence could be bound for time with the Reign with a full Kings defensive core but could be first in line for a call up in the event of an injury.
ON THE CUSP
C/RW Jaret Anderson-Dolan
Anderson-Dolan can be a useful player in the bottom-six on an NHL squad and may get a chance to do that next season with the Kings. A player with a strong hockey IQ to go along with a moderate offensive ability, JAD has all the tools to crack the NHL roster this fall, and he might get the chance to stick in a fourth line role. He will be eligible for waivers as soon as 2022-23, so he will have to crack the NHL roster or the Kings will have to risk losing him on waivers.
RD Helge Grans
Another hulking right shooting defender in the pipeline, Grans put up 24 points through 56 games in his rookie campaign in the AHL. It will be an uphill battle for ice time in the NHL for a player who still has prime developmental years ahead of him. He is a year away, but injuries can be unpredictable, which could be his path to making the roster.
RD Brandt Clarke
The eighth overall pick from 2021 flashed his offensive upside with the Barrie Colts this season with 59 points in 55 games. He also brings a level of physicality to the table and not afraid to throw a thunderous hit. Clarke has an outside shot to crack the opening night roster but could spend an extra year in junior before having a real shot with a crowded blueline.
C Francesco Pinelli
Pinelli had to show that he could repeat his success in the OHL from two seasons ago. He played the COVID-19 shortened season in Europe before returning to the Kitchener Rangers in 2021-22. He put up 60 points in 55 games and was a major part of the success for the Rangers this season. Pinelli will return to the OHL for another year of development, but he could take another step toward becoming the all-around force the Kings bargained for when they used a second-round pick on him.
LW/RW Martin Chromiak
Chromiak put up 33 points through 29 games in 2019-20 before the OHL season was ended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He went to Europe the following season before making a thunderous return to the Kingston Frontenacs last season. Playing alongside eventual fourth overall selection Shane Wright, he took full advantage and scored 44 goals and 86 points in just 60 games. Chromiak has clearly risen through the pipeline, but he will have to show he can translate his game to the professional level with the Reign.
C Alex Turcotte
The 2018 fifth overall pick has not had an easy road to the NHL. Suffering several injuries already in his young career, the centre is looking to turn the page heading into the new season. Earning a call-up midway through last season, the 21-year-old torched the competition with Ontario the rest of the way and setting the stage for a potential extended look with the Kings this fall. That is, if he can stay off the injured reserve.
C/LW Lias Andersson
Andersson has struggled to live up to the hype of a former seventh overall pick. His woes continued this year and is approaching now-or-never status as a prospect. He was given a one-year contract for the upcoming season. He will need to clear waivers to go back to the AHL, so his best opportunity may come elsewhere.
ORGANIZATIONAL DEPTH CHART
(Combination of NHL readiness and upside)
TOP 20 FANTASY PROSPECTS
- Brandt Clarke
- Alex Turcotte
- Samuel Fagemo
- Kasper Simontaival
- Jordan Spence
- Helge Grans
- Akil Thomas
- Francesco Pinelli
- Jack Hughes
- Tyler Madden
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan
- Otto Salin
- David Hrenak
- Andre Lee
- Alex Laferriere
- Martin Chromiak
- Lukas Parik
- Aidan Dudas
- Kim Nousiainen
- Kirill Kirsanov