Welcome to the August 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.
Despite another first-round exit at the hands of Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, there is plenty to be optimistic about with the Kings organization for 2023-24 and beyond. After compiling one of the deepest prospect pools in the NHL, the Kings cashed in on some of those assets this summer to bring in immediate help and additional cap space to the fold as they are looking to take a step into legitimate contention.
The offseason got rolling with a three-way trade, linking up with the Flyers and Blue Jackets, where the Kings sent Cal Petersen, Sean Walker, Helge Grans and a 2024 Second Round Pick to clear up $5.625 million in salary cap space. This gave them the ability to sign Vladislav Gavrikov to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $5.875 million.
With bigger ideas in mind, the Kings also moved Sean Durzi to Arizona, recouping a 2024 second round pick, to build up to their marquee move of the offseason where they acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets before inking him to an eight-year contract with a cap hit of $8.5 million, making him a key part of their plans to take another step in 2024.
Graduating to the NHL
Quinton Byfield While already having “graduated” to the NHL, Byfield did spend time with the Reign this season and dominated with 15 points in 16 games. He found himself on a line with Kopitar and Kempe toward the end of the regular season and played tough minutes in the playoffs. With only 99 games played in the NHL, he is still a long way from his big breakout threshold of 400 games, but could get close to the first mark of 200 games. The acquisition of Dubois complicates matters for the 2020 second-overall selection, but he has shown the ability to play on the wing. If he can find his way back to the line with Kopitar and Kempe, Byfield could flirt with 50 points and be poised for a great second half if he builds on this success from the onset of the season.
Arthur Kaliyev It seems like forever ago Kaliyev was just a prospect, but he is still a young age at just 22 years old and with a full-time job in the Kings lineup. While he only put up 13 goals in 56 games in 2022-23, Kaliyev should see a steady increase in offensive production with the right deployment. He has all the tools and the drive to join the 30-goal club next season, but if he takes a couple of seasons to finally reach that plateau, he may never look back.
Akil Thomas Thomas missed all but 13 games last year after undergoing shoulder surgery in November that sidelined him the rest of the way. He re-upped on a one-year deal with the team and is no longer exempt from waivers, so he will have an opportunity to work his way into the bottom-six or stay on as an extra forward. His profile is one to keep an eye on once training camp gets underway.
Brandt Clarke All signs are pointing upward for Clarke’s stock in the NHL and for fantasy owners. After appearing in nine games with Los Angeles last season, Clarke was sent back to the OHL following a dominant World Junior performance, preventing his ELC from kicking in. Once he rejoined the Barrie Colts, he proceeded to put up 61 points in 31 games in the back half of the season. But when you thought that was the apex for him, he hit another level in the playoffs with 23 points in 12 games, showing his readiness to graduate to the professional ranks. He has competition among the likes of other right-shooting defencemen in the pipeline, but should have the inside track given his status as a former top-ten selection.
Alex Laferierre Likely destined for AHL time before making the show, Laferierre’s impressive career in the NCAA concluded upon signing a three-year ELC in March. Laferierre brings the whole package to the table, with the potential to be a coveted asset in multi-category formats. He was a consistent threat the past few seasons, netting 73 points in 69 games played, with 35 of those coming as goals. While AHL time can be expected for at least next season, it would not be a surprise to see him get a look with the big club given his NHL ready frame and shot.
Francesco Pinelli Pinelli took a much-anticipated step this year, leading Kitchener to an unexpected run and led the way in pulling off a major upset in round one as the eight seed of the OHL playoffs. He developed more offensive flair to his game, putting up 90 points in 61 games, a far cry from his point-per-game pace in the year prior. Pinelli’s style as a 200-foot pivot can be easily transitioned into the professional game. But with a crowded pipeline and a complete NHL roster, he should be afforded the time necessary to develop into an NHL-ready player, which should be good for his overall development.
Erik Portillo Portillo inked an entry-level deal with the Kings back in the spring after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres prior to the trade deadline. After a successful career with the University of MIchigan, the Swede figures to immediately become the top goaltending prospect in the organization. Despite a fall off in his save percentage from a gaudy 0.926 to a 0.908, Portillo still possesses the tools to become a middle to high-end starting goalie at the NHL level. But as is the case with goalies, patience will be necessary for him to reach his potential. But getting playing time with the Reign or the Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL will be imperative for taking a step in his professional rookie season.
Martin Chromiak Chromiak’s rookie season was not all positive, as he was sidelined for a while to start the season. When he returned to the lineup, he posted a strong 15 goals and 13 assists and got better as the season went along. He scored a goal in five games for Slovakia at the World Championships and will play a much larger role for the Reign next season. He will look to boost his scoring output, but 15 goals is an encouraging start for a 20-year-old.
Jordan Spence Known to be an offensive defenceman, Spence has worked on becoming a more complete defender in the past season with Ontario and his work has paid off in spades. He played big minutes for the Reign including first team powerplay duties while logging minutes on the penalty kill. The commitment will push him up the depth chart for the time being and could help him capture a spot on the opening night roster. The emergence of Brandt Clarke, however, makes it harder for Spence to find that daylight. The competition on the right side of the blueline will be one to monitor when training camp kicks off. If he loses the battle in camp, however, do not lose hope. His stock is on the rise as he becomes a more complete player, and that could translate even better into the fantasy realm.
Alex Turcotte Expectations were sky high for Turcotte when he was taken fifth overall in 2019, but he has not reached those heights just yet. Turcotte has only appeared in 59 games over the last two seasons and has not been able to make a large imprint when he has been in the lineup. Still, only turning 23 in February of 2024, he still has plenty of runway to develop into an NHL talent. While there is no doubt his fantasy stock has fallen, if he can piece together a mostly healthy campaign in 2023-24 in the AHL, he should be on the graduating list of prospects by the time training camp in 2024 rolls around.
Tyler Madden While he should compete for a spot in the bottom-six to start the season, Madden’s production has trailed off over the last year. After scoring 0.64 points per game the year prior, he only managed a 0.44 rate in 2022-23. He noticeably worked on other areas of his game, but as Madden has the potential to be an offensive contributor, it would be nice for fantasy managers who have held onto him to see him given a greater offensive role. Still yet, he should be a candidate for an injury call up when injuries inevitably strike during the season.
On this episode: Pat is joined by Ben to discuss prospects in the Atlantic Division who have a chance to make the roster to start, have cups of coffee, or may be up after the trade deadline. This talk is to help fantasy hockey GMs decide on prospects to add, watch or invest in for […]
On this episode: Pat is joined by Ben to discuss prospects in the Metro Division who have a chance to make the roster to start, have cups of coffee, or may be up after the trade deadline. This talk is to help fantasy hockey GMs decide on prospects to add, watch or invest in for […]
On this episode: Pat is joined by Ben to discuss prospects in the Central Division who have a chance to make the roster to start, have cups of coffee, or may be up after the trade deadline. This talk is to help fantasy hockey GMs decide on prospects to add, watch or invest in for […]