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Thread: My Guide to Kings Prospects for the 2014/2015 Season

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    Default My Guide to Kings Prospects for the 2014/2015 Season

    So, with development camp over, I usually make a list ranking the Kings prospects in the system. I usually give a short paragraph explaining why, but I decided to take a different approach. I decided to give some numerical values to their upside while also ranking them. I give as detailed explanation as reasonable for discussion purposes. Training camps will be coming up within a month or two, so those of you who want to do your research ahead of time will have your options.

    In terms of which players I deemed prospects, I basically went by the Hockey's Future list. I don't consider Toffoli, Pearson, or Jones as prospects anymore, since they played on the Kings last season and will play on the Kings this season.

    For the players themselves, I rank the players by offensive upside (what their top end ability could be, relative to the other prospects), defensive upside (their top end ability relative to the other prospects), and League/role (how beneficial where they are playing this season should benefit and maximize their development). So, you may see some players with good upside, but maybe not playing in the best position this season to maximize their development... compared to a player with lower upside, but put in a better position to succeed this season, so their likelihood of reaching that upside is maximized.

    Keep in mind higher upside does not automatically translate to higher ranking. There are a lot of subjective and arbitrary factors I use in terms of ranking these players. Again, I try to be reasonable.

    I'm going to break this up into several posts, because it was seveal pages long. If you want just the fast breakdown, here's the list of my rankings without explanations:

    36 - Dominik Kubalik
    35 - Colin Miller
    34 - Vincent Loverde
    33 - Brian O'Neill
    32 - Maxim Kitsyn
    31 - Joel Lowry
    30 - Justin Auger
    29 - Spencer Watson
    28 - JF Berube
    27 - Kurtis MacDermid
    26 - Paul Ladue
    25 - Jake Marchment
    24 - Matt Mistele
    23 - Alec Dillon
    22 - Scott Sabourin
    21 - Alex Lintuniemi
    20 - Jordan Weal
    19 - Jacob Middleton
    18 - Jonny Brodzinski
    17 - Alex Roach
    16 - Zachary Leslie
    15 - Michael Mersch
    14 - Steven Johnson
    13 - Nic Dowd
    12 - Nick Ebert
    11 - Michael Amadio
    10 - Patrik Bartosak
    9 - Nick Shore
    8 - Roland McKeown
    7 - Andy Andreoff
    6 - Derek Forbort
    5 - Kevin Gravel
    4 - Nikolai Prokhorkin
    3 - Brayden McNabb
    2 - Valentin Zykov
    1 - Adrian Kempe

    Hopefully you find this thread informative if not interesting, and hopefully others feel comfortable giving their input.
    Last edited by King'sPawn; July 19th, 2014 at 09:35 PM.
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    36. Dominik Kubalik – Returning to the Czech Republic after an underwhelming season in junior hockey seems to seal his fate. He’s following the same career path as Tomas Hyka, which is a path of hockey not to be played in North America.
    Offensive upside: 3/10
    His natural talents just haven’t converted into productive juniors on North American ice. Despite regularly getting second line ice time, his offense plummeted in the second half of the season.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    His defensive reads leave a lot to be desired, but he does try to get the job done.

    League/role next season: 1/10
    He struggled to score in a league of 16/20 year-olds, so I’m not quite sure it is in his best interest to sign in the Czech Republic where he’ll be competing against adults.

    35. Colin Miller – Defensemen with a cannon of a shot but limited all-around hockey usually leave people star struck early in their careers and later wonder “what happened to him?” His play away from the puck leaves a lot to be desired. Obviously it’s never too late for young players, but he seems to lean too much on his early career success to think that will carry him the rest of the way.
    Offensive upside: 4/10
    While he has a cannon of a shot, there’s very little more to his game from an offensive point of view.

    Defensive upside: 3/10
    Miller’s not a defensive stalwart; while he needs to improve his hockey sense, he also needs to improve his strength and fitness to be effective on the back end.

    League/role next season: 3/10 (Manchester, AHL; Ontario, ECHL)
    Other players are just developing faster than Colin Miller has, which has knocked him down the depth chart.

    34. Vincent LoVerde – The defenseman has put in a lot of time and effort to earn himself a spot on an AHL roster. He may have missed out on some key development time to refine his abilities, which has a significant impact on his long term future as a hockey player. He has the discipline and patience to make it to the AHL, but the lack of NHL instruction during formative times in his career may be his undoing.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    Loverde hit a career high professionally, but it’s not from being an offensive catalyst. He may continue to improve his scoring as he finds his niche, but don’t expect his offensive production to be much better than what he’s already accomplished.

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    He contains the opposition well at the AHL level, and when paired with Bodnarchuk, created the best +/- combination in the league last year.

    League/role next season: 5/10 (Manchester, OHL)
    As with O’Neill… he will play where he belongs, he will fit in and do well… but from a developmental point of view, it’s approaching a black hole status as far as prospects are concerned.

    33. Brian O’Neill – The small, industrious forward provides a lot of energy for the Monarchs. However, there are concerns if he could make any transition to be effective at the NHL level, or if he is meant to top out as a very good AHL player.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    He has made tremendous progress in the AHL, but as a smaller, older energy player, you probably won’t see him top out any more than he already has.

    Defensive upside: 3/10
    Just like with his offense, what you see is what you get. He is a high energy player who could do whatever is needed of him… at the AHL level.

    League/role next season: 4/10 (Manchester, OHL)
    O’Neill is playing in the most appropriate league, and will thrive in the role meant for him. However, when looking at it from a developmental point of view, there’s very little developmentally at this stage.

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    32. Maxim Kitsyn – The highly skilled Russian has earned a lot of points for his commitment to the North American game, which I commend. However, my biggest question was never his commitment to coming to America. I always questioned whether he would commit to a style of play which best makes use of his abilities and his role. He’s nearing a point per game in the ECHL, but that’s still quite a distance from the NHL.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    He has high end offensive skills, yet he hasn’t been able to crack the point per game plateau in any league he’s played. While it’s not a fair gauge, given his size and talent, he should be more threatening offensively.

    Defensive upside: 3/10
    His defensive ability and hockey sense are still questionable. It’s a work in progress.

    League/role next season: 5/10 (Manchester, AHL or Ontario, ECHL)
    Kitsyn will undoubtedly be put into a position to score to start off, whether it’s in the AHL or ECHL. It will be putting him in a better position to succeed, and it will be up to him to make the most of this opportunity.

    31. Joel Lowry – He has a group of factors working against him; he isn’t attending a top ranked hockey college, his numbers have stagnated even as he matures against the college competition, and he has yet to be called upon to take on any leadership role. His speed and anticipation can only take him so far, and unless he becomes very opportunistic in the upcoming season, I would find the Kings hard pressed to justify signing him.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    Lowry’s production has remained about the same for three years now, and while the puck always seems to find him, it rarely seems to find its way to the back of the net.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    Lowry’s speed can challenge the opposition with the puck, and his improved strength can pin the opposition down.

    League/role next season: 5/10 (Cornell, NCAA)
    Lowry’s likely going to play top priority minutes as a senior, and how he responds to the higher demands will further define his professional career path as a hockey player.

    30. Justin Auger – One of the biggest prospects in Kings history had quite a drop in his rankings, mostly due to an underwhelming year which started off with mono. He has plenty of upside with his rather large size, but he has underwhelming tools when it comes to puck management (protection, passing, shooting). I am concerned he may struggle to find success within the Kings organization.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    A big player who moves well usually has some good offensive upside, but he does very little to generate or capitalize on prime scoring chances offensively.

    Defensive upside: 7/10
    His use as a shutdown player could make him a very useful professional hockey player if he continues to apply himself. With his skating, size, and strength, he can cover a lot of ice.

    League/role next year: 4/10 (Manchester, AHL; Ontario, ECHL; Guelph, OHL)
    He is old enough to play in Manchester, Ontario, or play an overage season in Guelph. In Guelph, he will play against weaker competition in a depth role, which is the worst scenario. With the Monarchs or Reign, he will also have a depth role, but will at least have more challenging competition to develop him further. Either way, he will be playing a lesser role and his long term development path will take a hit.

    29. Spencer Watson – The skilled energy winger will be getting a lot more responsibility next season, particularly with the possible promotion of Sam Bennett to the NHL level. There will be a higher demand for Watson to maximize his skills. The good news is he goes to the dirty areas to make things happen. The bad news is, with his smaller stature and a lot to prove even at the junior level, he has a steep hill to climb.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    Watson shows good playmaking ability, speed, and creativity. Since his size will give him struggles as he advances in ranks, he makes good use of his tools to provide offense.

    Defensive upside: 2/10
    Watson lacks defensive awareness, discipline, and strength to contain the opposition.

    League/role next season: 7/10 (Kingston, OHL)
    Without Bennet, Watson is going to be a key player on the Kingston Frontenacs. There is no better developmental path for Watson, but he may not have the defensive accountability.

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    28. JF Berube – Berube uses a technically strong style of goaltending. He has put up decent numbers in the minors, but without dominating the AHL, and with Bartosak knocking on the door, the long term projection is less inspiring than others.

    Upside: 6/10
    Technically strong goaltenders like Berube and Bernier leave little to chance when it comes to making saves. However, he has yet to be a dominating player in any level, leaving some questions of upside.

    League/role next year: 5/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He’s likely going to have the starting role in Manchester next season, but with a more dominant goalie breathing down his neck, he may be supplanted in the near future.

    27. Kurtis MacDermid – The big, mobile defenseman might find himself a victim of a numbers game. There are quite a few who offer a more all-around game who may take AHL roster spots from him. This leaves him either playing in the ECHL or staying as an overage player in the OHL. His offensive ability is limited, and spending a key year in a less than ideal developmental situation could have a major long term impact on his playing career.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    He had an offensive “outburst,” doubling his production from the previous year in nearly half the number of games… then when he was traded to the offensively gifted Erie Otters, his production plummeted to three points in 28 games. He moves well, but lacks high end offensive ability or consistency.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    MacDermid plays a very mean game, and keeps the opposition looking over their shoulders. His mobility and size are huge assets to the team.

    League/role next season: 4/10 (Manchester, AHL; Ontario, ECHL; Erie, OHL)
    He’s eligible to play in Manchester, Ontario, or Erie again next season. It’s unfortunate to either play a key role in a lesser league or a lesser role in a bigger league. As said before, he is a victim of a number’s game.

    26. Paul LaDue – He’s still a long term project, and just finished his freshman year at North Dakota. He has strong puck control ability. He needs to improve his defensive reads, strength, and boost his confidence as he slowly earns himself a more prominent role during the formative years.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    As a freshman, LaDue put up solid numbers. He carries and distributes the puck well, and as he matures, will only have more offensive demands on him in a solid collegiate hockey program.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    He had some sheltered minutes, which doesn’t necessarily affect his upside, but makes things harder to gauge his upside and aptitude.

    League/role next year: 7/10 (North Dakota, NCAA)
    As a maturing player, it is nice to get more opportunities on the team. Unfortunately, there are no significant graduations on defense this year, so expect him to have a similar role for at least another season.

    25. Jake Marchment – His size, strength, and grit could be a huge asset long term to the organization. He was a key role with Belleville this year, and while the upside may not be as promising as other players in the organization, he could also be a fast riser within two years.

    Offensive upside: 6/10
    There’s no prospect in the pipeline as efficient within five feet of the opposition’s net as Marchment. He’s not overly creative, but who needs it when you’re right in front of the net?

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    He’s average defensively as a forward; he supports the breakout, but needs to develop better habits about supporting deeper.

    League/role next season: 6/10 (Belleville, OHL)
    He’s not eligible to play in Manchester next season, so he is going to stay in a similar role on Belleville next season. It’s not inherently bad for his development, but it may not be as challenging for him and force him to take himself to the next level.

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    24. Matt Mistele – The skilled pest had a disappointing year, but after a year to adjusting in the new role, he should greatly improve with the opportunities presented to him.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    There is a lot to prove from the season before last, who nearly put up a point per game as a 17 year-old. His output diminished by nearly half this season. With the adjustment, he can provide a lot of tools to help his team offensively.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    Mistele is more of an offensive catalyst, who needs more experience and demands on the defensive side of the puck.

    League/role next season: 8/10 (Plymouth, OHL)
    He’s going to play another season in Plymouth as a key offensive player. Adjusting to the extra attention on him is key for his development as he prepares for the next level.

    23. Alec Dillon – The lanky goaltender is incredibly raw and struggles with covering the lower half of the net. He needs to use his legs to cover down low more.

    Upside: 6/10
    A goalie with Dillon’s size naturally has a lot of upside, since he covers a lot of net. If he can develop his technique where he uses his size effectively, a la Martin Jones, there is a lot of potential.

    League/role next season: 9/10 (Tri-City, USHL)
    Dillon made the decision to join the Tri City Storm of the USHL, after spending with the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL. The increased competition and role as a likely starter will be huge for him. This is a big step up from splitting time in Victoria.

    22. Scott Sabourin - The strong armed winger boasts good size and skill, serving as a good pest or fourth liner. He still needs to work on consistency and confidence to succeed at the next level. He hasn’t excelled as competition has improved, so there’s a question of long term upside for him.

    Offensive upside: 4/10
    Sabourin has shown some offensive flashes, but has lacked the confidence to be consistent. He has very good size, which will make him a good forechecker.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    His role is strictly that of an energy/enforcing type of player, so while he may play the system, he isn’t a key defensive player.

    League/role next season: 5/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He’s going to play in the AHL where he belongs, and he will play a role he thrives in, but with the depth of Manchester, he may just suffer from a number’s game.

    21. Alex Lintuniemi – The larger Finnish defender played his first season in the OHL, and by all accounts, was solid. He moves the puck well, and will lay the body, but needs to improve his strength and consistency. My biggest criticism is he has a lot of tools to do so much, but I think he has yet to define his game.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    Lintuniemi makes good passes and he dishes the puck out. Beyond that, his offensive upside is questionable.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    If he uses his body consistently and learns how to contain the opposition, he can be very effective. Because he is very raw and his game is not completely defined, development will be key to his career.

    League/role next season: 5/10 (Ottawa, OHL)
    While playing on the same team and league as Middleton, it may not be as beneficial for a player as raw as Lintuniemi to get equal treatment. However, it’s the best option that’s available.

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    20. Jordan Weal – As unpopular as it will come across for Manchester’s top center, I don’t think Weal will top out much higher than he is. If he does make it to the NHL, I don’t think it will be in a Kings uniform. I just don’t think his size is conducive to his style of play, and worry his effectiveness will be kept to a minimum as the competition gets stronger.

    Offensive upside: 6/10
    Weal has top end vision and skills, and has put up solid numbers in every league he’s played. He has the talents there, but on the forechecking standpoint, he bounces off the opposition. As he plays against more savvy veterans, his sneakiness will be less effective.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    As stated above, he thrives on sneakiness, including on the defensive side of the puck. As he plays against more alert NHLers who communicate more effectively, he won’t be as effective as he is at the AHL level.

    League/role next season: 7/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He’s going to play in all roles next season, and as a top line center in the AHL, will now see how much he has to improve to make the next step. It’s a question mark if playing the entire season as a center is a good idea, however, since the Kings are so strong at center. Weal might benefit from getting some opportunities on the wing.

    19. Jacob Middleton – Mr. Irrelevant, 2014 edition, is a staunch, physical defender. He lacks the offensive creativity and upside, so if he isn’t going to contribute points, he will have to add a lot of strength to keep his opponents honest effectively.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    His numbers were on par for a defenseman with a middling offensive team. He doesn’t have any dangerous offensive ability, but he doesn’t depend on that aspect of his game anyway.

    Defensive upside: 7/10
    His mantra in an interview was, “No offense in my zone.” He plays mean, strong and defensively disciplined. It can always improve with more time and experience, but he’s setting himself up as a reliable defenseman long term.

    League/role next season: 7/10 (Ottawa, OHL)
    He’s going to get key defensive minutes playing for the Ottawa 67’s next season. There’s no better league or role for him, but he may not get the offensive development.

    18. Jonny Brodzinski – The skilled sniper still has a wicked shot. With the graduation of Dowd and Gravel, there will be a lot more demanded out of Brodzinski in his junior year. It’s impressive he led one of the better teams in scoring as just a sophomore, but the question will be how well he can adjust now that the opposition will be keying in on him and giving him less time.

    Offensive upside: 8/10
    He is a pure sniper and skates well. He already scored at over a point per game pace and led St. Cloud in scoring in his second season. While he is a bit more mature compared to other sophomores, he has still adapted well to increase responsibility and competition.

    Defensive upside: 3/10
    His defensive sense and understanding of that side of the ice is a big work in progress. It can certainly improve with coaching, but he’s not a natural.

    League/role next season: 8/10 (St. Cloud, NCAA)
    He’s a scorer. He will be put in a scoring role next season, and will face the top defenders in college. What hurts his score the most is he’s still probably not going to get a lot of major defensive assignments.

    17. Alex Roach – The bulky defenseman had an overall underwhelming performance in the WHL with a disappointing first round exit on Calgary. He was sent down with the idea of having him improve his overall game and give him a leadership role, but he’s not showing the upside from a few years ago.

    Offensive upside: 4/10
    Roach’s offense has suffered in his over age season. Or better yet, he didn’t have as impressive as a season compared to the one prior, where he played a Chara type of role on the Calgary Hitmen. He has a cannon of a shot, and he tries to find the open lane, but his puck distribution is a big question.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    Roach has a powerful frame which he uses. He has a bit of a mean streak, and while he’s not a defensive stalwart, does keep the opposition honest.

    League/role next season: 4/10 (Manchester, AHL or Ontario, ECHL)
    At his age, Roach is not eligible to return to the junior league. He must play in the AHL or ECHL. Unfortunately, it looks like he will be playing in a limited role in either league. His long term development as a net result could take a hit.

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    16. Zachary Leslie – Leslie ran a little hot and cold on the top team in the OHL. He has an exceptional toolbox, gets himself open, and distributes the puck with great poise. Consistency will be a question to his game; he will probably struggle out the gate in the AHL when he goes there, but could shock some people who make the mistake of forgetting about him.

    Offensive upside: 6/10
    Leslie doesn’t have the cannon of a shot or high end skating ability which immediately exudes confidence, but his offensive sense and understanding for the game is top notch.

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    He plays a disciplined game, but needs to improve his strength to contain the opposition effectively.

    League/role next year: 7/10 (Manchester, AHL; Ontario, ECHL; Guelph, OHL)
    Leslie is in a delicate situation where he’s eligible to play in the AHL as a bottom pairing defenseman, or a top pairing defenseman to replace Matt Finn on the Guelph Storm in the OHL. Either option is appropriate for him.

    15. Michael Mersch – He signed a contract after completing his senior year at Wisconsin, providing Manchester with a strong potential power winger. He led the Badgers in goals, but as a senior, didn’t take on a bigger leadership role. He fills a positional need and has a scoring touch, but will need to improve his skating to make a bigger impact.

    Offensive upside: 6/10
    Mersch plays a grinding game, plays at the front of the net, and has a top end release. His skating is still his biggest issue, which has an impact on his top end upside.

    Defensive upside: 3/10
    He’s not lazy in the defensive zone, but his defensive sense and reads leaves much to be desired. Can play a system game, but don’t expect him to have it come naturally.

    League/role next year: 7/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He will be getting his first full professional season in Manchester, giving him a scoring/grinding role next season. If he gets put in a defensive role to develop that aspect to his game, his long term projection into the NHL is a lot more hopeful.

    14. Steven Johnson – Perhaps the biggest enigma in the system. Enduring a four inch growth spurt in just over the past year, there’s a bit of an understandable awkwardness and adjustment for him. He’s committed to a fantastic school with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but there’s question if he will play there next season.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    He shows a willingness to shoot the puck, and he makes smart jumps in the play. He needs to work on breakouts and moving the puck, but there’s a lot to offer here.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    He has size, and he’s learning how to use it. He’s strong along the boards. His defensive reads and gap control are a work in progress, which will need to improve with more time and experience.

    League/role next season: 6/10 (Omaha, USHL or Minnesota, NCAA)
    The biggest uncertainty is where he will be playing. If he stays in Omaha, it may be a season of slower development. If he can move onto the next level and play for Minnesota, a top end collegiate team, then he will be going through a path which is best for his development.

    13. Nic Dowd – His ranking dips a little due to being the oldest prospect in the system, but he wasn’t a Hobey Baker candidate last season by accident. He plays a solid two way game, leads, has versatility, and made a seamless transition into the AHL. There’s a lot to like about him.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    Dowd has frequently been among the team leader in scoring, and notched a few points in his first dozen professional games. He lacks creativity and top end skills, but the effort and character could offset it.

    Defensive upside: 8/10
    Used in all situations, Dowd even thrived when killing penalties. Saying he’s a Selke contender is a stretch, but he will help his team win when on the defensive side of the puck.

    League/role next year: 5/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    Dowd is playing in the league where he belongs, and in a defensive role, will play a deserving role. His score takes a hit due to being older than most prospects – his window can quickly close if he doesn’t make the adjustment quickly and earn a spot in the NHL next season.

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    12. Nick Ebert – Mr. Irrelevant from a couple years ago was moved to a better team and, consequently, looked better. He wasn’t purely a product of being with better players – he earned the minutes he got through hard work and skill. He needs to improve his strength now that he’s about to enter the AHL.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    Ebert is a top end puck carrying defenseman. He put up great numbers as a 20 year-old. His strongest asset is his decision making.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    Ebert doesn’t have top end strength or reads to excel defensively. It can improve with experience, but it will probably never be his strong suit.

    League/role next season: 6/10 (Manchester, AHL; Ontario, ECHL; Guelph, OHL)
    Ebert has a few paths ahead of him, which brings many questions. He could return to the OHL, which would be the least desirable choice. He could get top pairing minutes in the ECHL, or he could get bottom pairing minutes in the AHL. It will be a somewhat slow but steady developmental path for him.

    11. Michael Amadio – He already plays in a very defensive system with North Bay, has size, skates well, and provides a fair amount of skill. I think he is going to surprise a lot of people this year, since he’s an unheralded name with unsexy numbers drafted in the third round.

    Offensive upside: 4/10
    Amadio has good size and passing ability. He doesn’t boast top end offensive ability, but he could develop in fundamentals to make him more dangerous.

    Defensive upside: 7/10
    His strongest suit is his dedication to the defensive end of the ice. He makes good reads and helps on the breakout.

    League/role next year: 8/10 (North Bay, OHL)
    He will stay as a defensive forward while getting top line minutes. He is in the right league and the right role for himself; what hurts his score a little bit is he may be playing in “too” defensive of a system for his long term development.

    10. Patrik Bartosak – Unquestionably the best goaltending prospect in the system. One year removed from being the CHL goaltender of the year, he follows up with another solid showing for Red Deer. Unfortunately, his team still didn’t qualify for the playoffs. I believe he will contend to be the starter for Manchester at the end of the season; fitness is his biggest obstacle, so he can improve his recovery time between saves.

    Upside: 7/10
    Bartosak played a lot of minutes as a starting goaltender in Red Deer, and is challenging for a starting position in Manchester. Whether he makes it as an NHL starter remains to be seen, but he does have top end upside and competitiveness. He’s not too different in his approach to the game as Jonathan Quick.

    League/role next season: 9/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He’s not going to be given the starting role, so the opportunity to start out as a back-up and fight for the position is the best developmental path for him.

    9. Nick Shore – The cerebral center’s a strong candidate to play in the NHL, but needs to prove more now that he’s at the next level and getting bigger minutes. Some more versatility, such as the ability to play wing, will give him some more of a future in the organization so strong in the center role.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    Shore plays a very smart game, moves the puck well, and has good vision. However, his offensive consistency and top end skill aren’t as prominent as other prospects.

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    His willingness to play defensively certainly helps his cause. He is an adaptable player who has adjusted with the Kings system. However, his top end defensive ability is serviceable.

    League/role next season: 6/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He is playing his second year in Manchester, but will return as a 2nd line center. His role and league he’s playing in is appropriate, but not necessarily challenging him to push himself to the next level.

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    8. Roland McKeown – McKeown is a mobile defenseman playing a lot like Visnovsky, but with Doughty minutes. How well that will translate at the NHL level is up in the air, but there is a lot of potential. Needs to play with more snarl on a consistent basis, while continuing to improve the nuances of defense.

    Offensive upside: 5/10
    McKeown put up solid numbers in special teams situations, moves the puck well and likes to take shots from the point.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    McKeown has been used in all situations already, and will continue to play key roles as he develops more in Kingston. His lack of grit limits his effectiveness.

    League/role next season: 8/10 (Kingston, OHL)
    It’s hard to argue the path McKeown is the wrong one; he already played well over 20 minutes a game on a good team, and the opportunities will only help him develop his game for the next level.

    7. Andy Andreoff – He’s a skilled agitator who is on the cusp of being an NHL regular. Offensive upside at the NHL level is a fair question, but his grit and attention to detail will make him a reliable NHLer.

    Offensive upside: 4/10
    Andreoff shows key traits from the offensive end, but the overall lack of creativity challenges his offensive upside.

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    He won’t ever play a shutdown role, but he’s not sloppy in any aspect of his game. He’s very dependable.

    League/role next year: 5/10 (Manchester, AHL; Los Angeles, NHL)
    There’s a bit of ambiguity for Andreoff, which affects his score. If he earns a spot in training camp and plays regular minutes in the NHL, it will be a great opportunity for him to play an energy role. If he doesn’t, then he will be subject to waivers, and he will play the same role and biding his time until he gets an NHL shot.

    6. Derek Forbort – Forbort’s skills have improved slowly but surely, and he is playing a key defensive role for the Monarchs. He lacks the top end upside either offensively or defensively to warrant moving him up higher in the depth chart, but could still top out to be a serviceable NHL player like Jeff Schultz in the long run.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    It’s always nice to think of those big defensemen with high offensive upside, but Forbort’s just not that offensive catalyst. He contributes with moving the puck and shows good vision, but he just lacks that overall killer instinct, especially from the offensive end.

    Defensive upside: 7/10
    Forbort doesn’t have a killer instinct to match his large size, so the opposition isn’t exactly looking over their shoulder. However, he uses his reach well to limit the chances of the opposition.

    League/role next year: 9/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    He will undoubtedly get top pairing minutes in the league most appropriate for him next year. He was drafted as a long term project, and the patience exercised is best for his NHL career.

    5. Kevin Gravel – Gravel, at this point, is still the Kings best defensive prospect. The biggest concern is whether or not he will commit to the Kings by signing a contract. He plays a solid defensive game and contributes leadership and resolve.

    Offensive upside: 3/10
    Gravel made drastic improvements to his offensive game in his senior year, nearly doubling his offensive output from 12 points to 23 points.

    Defensive upside: 8/10
    His defensive discipline and grit will undoubtedly keep the opposition honest.

    League/role next year: 7/10 (Manchester, AHL)
    If Gravel stays within the system, he will play in the league which is best for his development. He won’t be counted on to do too much too soon, which is also good from a developmental standpoint. However, will the delay in signing and questions of commitment force him to the wayside in the long term?

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    4. Nikolai Prokhorkin – He led his team in scoring in the KHL, albeit their most skilled player missed a lot of time due to injury. Nonetheless, it is Prokhorkin’s adaptability, skill, and grit which makes him an important prospect in the pipeline; his stock has actually fallen a bit since he is staying out in Europe for yet another year.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    Leading a team of adults as a 20 year-old is no easy feat, and he is a very opportunistic player who competes. He’s not a game breaker, but can be depended on offensively.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    Prokhorkin plays a solid two-way game, and while he makes mistakes defensively, they can be corrected with experience.

    League/role next year: 2/10 (CSKA, KHL)
    The recent news he is looking for a three year contract with CSKA Moscow in the KHL would be severely detrimental towards his NHL career. While playing a key role in the KHL can only help a player get better, if he wants to make the transition to the NHL, it would definitely benefit him to come to the AHL as soon as he can. Committing himself to the KHL, which has been ruthless in keeping him overseas, will only continue to make any NHL aspirations difficult.

    3. Brayden McNabb – He shoots as hard as he hits, which makes him a dual threat on the ice. His defensive awareness hurts him the most. As much patience will need to be exercised with him than with Muzzin.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    McNabb already scores at .5 ppg pace in a new system with the Monarchs, and totaling 102 points in 169 AHL games. He also has 8 points in 37 games. He has a lot to offer offensively.

    Defensive upside: 5/10
    McNabb needs to break some bad habits, particularly making bad pinches or taking himself out of defensive position to make a risky play. Even with those corrected, he just doesn’t play a shutdown type of game.

    League/role next year: 5/10 (Los Angeles, NHL)
    McNabb has done a lot at the AHL level and, arguably, has nothing left to prove. However, he could really benefit from a full season on the Monarchs to better understand and execute the demanding defensive structure. However, since he is waiver eligible, the Kings have to keep him in the NHL, where he may have struggles.

    2. Valentin Zykov – There is nobody as competitive as Zykov in the system. He battles hard for every inch of the ice, and fits into the Kings mentality perfectly. His numbers the second year aren’t as impressive since he has tried to round out his game – consequently, his allure isn’t the same as before. However, it is this commitment to improving his game which still makes him a top prospect.

    Offensive upside: 7/10
    Zykov put up incredible numbers as a rookie in the QMJHL, and put up similar numbers the following year. He could play a power forward type of game while being a key player on the powerplay.

    Defensive upside: 4/10
    Zykov’s willingness to commit to the defensive zone is appealing, but he still has a lot to learn. He’s caught watching a lot.

    League/Role next year: 5/10 (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL)
    Zykov will once again play in Baie-Comeau in the QMJHL. He is in that black hole where he belongs in the AHL, but he’s too young. Consequently, he has to play in a lesser league, but in a top role. The biggest impact is it will delay his NHL readiness.

    1. Adrian Kempe - There are many reasons why Kempe fits in as a top prospect in the Kings pipeline right now. He fits in the system, he does have a dedication towards a two way game, he put up respectable numbers in a league against men, and he’s the youngest in the system.

    Offensive upside: 6/10
    Kempe doesn’t have top end ability, but would make a great linemate for a more opportunistic player.

    Defensive upside: 6/10
    Kempe is not a defensive stalwart, but supports the team in the defensive end and shows competency.

    League/Role next year: 7/10 (Modo, SHL)
    For a young player to play in a league against men is a wonderful opportunity. He may still play in a diminished role as a young player, but this could be a chance to develop his strength against stronger players. The alternative is pigeonholing him in the NHL or play more minutes on the Barrie Colts, where his competition will be much weaker compared to what he’s already played against.

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