Finally, we’re ready to reveal the No. 1 player on our annual LA Kings Prospect Rankings.
As noted in the previous article from this series, our original intention was to publish the entire Top 15 before the NHL Trade Deadline in February. Things happen. However, the final rankings were completed in January and have been slowly (insert your own joke here) released since that time.
If you’re new to our rankings, know that you’ve come to the right place. Many view this as the definitive guide to the teamís draft picks and next wave of young players. As in past years, weíve gone through this process in painstaking detail to ensure these reports are unmatched in quality and content. Quite simply, nobody outside the Kings organization talks to more coaches, scouts, and General Managers about LAís top prospects on a regular basis than MayorsManor team. Endless hours go into evaluating players and preparing our write-ups Ė including debating info with a myriad of well-respected hockey people, along with our key sources inside the Kings organization Ė before the final list is completed.
Below are links to previous articles in the 2020 series, as well as pair of other all new reports.
Goalie Depth Chart for Kings Organization
Honorable Mentions Ė Mikey Eyssimont, Jacob Moverare, Jordan Spence, and more
15. Kim Nousiainen
14. Cole Hults
13. Sean Durzi
12. Aidan Dudas
11. Samuel Fagemo
10. Jaret Anderson-Dolan
9. Akil Thomas
8. Kale Clague
7. Mikey Anderson
6. Rasmus Kupari
5. Tyler Madden
4. Arthur Kaliyev

3. TOBIAS BJORNFOT: Defense, Ontario Reign (1st round pick in 2019, Sweden)
Last Season: 11 goals, 11 assists, plus-15, 14 PIM in 39 games played (Sweden)
This Season: 6 goals, 13 assists, plus-13, 12 PIM in 44 games played (AHL)
– Made NHL Debut on October 5, 2019
– Won bronze at WJC 2020 with Team Sweden, alongside Kings prospect Samuel Fagemo
– Won U-18 gold (2019), Hlinka silver (2019), and U-18 bronze (2018)
– First north American professional point came against the San Jose Barracuda on October 19, 2019, his first game in the AHL; scoring a goal and later adding an assist
– Has two multi-point games – both against San Jose
Strengths: Efficient, elusive, and excellent skater. Outstanding hockey sense and leadership, is a winner. Positional play is phenomenal, doesnít have to extend himself too much.
Needs to work on: Strength because he is undersized. Surroundings around the net, on ice communication. Heíll be a Number 2 or 3 dman in the NHL, depending if he can develop an offensive game. His shot has to be a little better, needs more on it, a little harder.
Asked Doughty about the three young Kings D on the way…
On Bjornfot – Really impressed me during preseason, I'm expecting big things from him next year. He's very calm, love the way he sees the ice, look forward to working with him and helping him improve more.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 13, 2020
Turcotte – I took Bjornfot to Chipotle in LA, right after we were drafted (at DevCamp). I know people in LA love to give it to me that there's better Mexican food in SoCal, but I'm from the midwest.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Outlook for 2020-21 season and beyond: Expect Bjornfot to split time between the American League and NHL this coming season. And thatís not a bad thing. Thereís no doubt heíll eventually land a fulltime role with the Kings, it will just take some time for the full roster to shake out Ė which will only help his development, as seeing No. 1 minutes in the AHL will help round out his game.
Get to Know the Player: Nelson Emerson on Bjornfot [LINK]

2. ALEX TURCOTTE: Forward, Wisconsin Badgers (1st round pick in 2019, USNTDP)
Last Season: 27 goals, 35 assists, 22 PIM in 37 games played (USNTDP)
This Season: 9 goals, 17 assists, minus-10, 20 PIM in 29 games played (NCAA)
– Represented Team USA in the 2020 WJC alongside Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev
– Won U-18 bronze (2019) and U-18 silver (2018)
– 15th overall in Big Ten scoring, despite missing multiple games due to illness and injury
The Kings drafted him expecting him to be a 2C with a letter. Turcotte thinks heís a 1C. If thatís who you think you are, you have to perform better. Good enough sometimes isnít good enough.
After the WJC, one scout noted to us Ė ďFor me, the way he attacks the game and the type of kid he is, I think he learns from this. I think Turcotte learns from this and challenges himself, even though I thought he played a solid tournament. Even though it doesnít change my opinion of him, I wouldíve liked to see more out of him. The path to get him ready isnít as quick as a lot of people want it.Ē
His drive, his puck pursuit and pressure separate him from other players at this level of prospects. He pressures opponents with the puck and forces guys to make either a hurried play or forces them into bad passes. Itís not outright turnovers, yet itís one of the things that often goes unnoticed Ė forcing opponents to make a pass. This is something that Austin Wagner also does particularly well, and few notice. It creates chaos; it forces guys to do things quicker. So even if the pass arrives at the target, it arrives a second too early. It arrives as the guy is coming back and not going forward. With Turcotte, while he doesnít create a turnover, he affects the pace of the play. He disrupts the play. Any time you are making a pass before youíre ready or before your option is ready, it opens up opportunities to create turnovers. So even if he didnít create the turnover, he might have set up the next turnover.
In the current NHL, where getting the puck back is one of the most important elements Ė where the quicker you get the puck back, the more successful you will be — Turcotte does that really well.
One of the reasons he doesnít put up more points is because to play his style of game you need to be elite in terms of strength and conditioning. If he wants to play the way that he plays and show off the intangibles that he has, you almost need to be the benchmark. You need to be Alec Martinez or Wayne Simmonds. You need to be one of the top 3 guys in terms of strength and testing. It takes time and it takes commitment, which he is starting to show. Once you have the commitment, it takes a couple of years.
They learn so fast…@Turcotte__71 with the Dodgers lid on today's conference call
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Turcotte on what it was like growing up the son of a former NHL player – My dad may have been harder on me than some other parents, but it was well worth it. He's helped me tremendously.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Turcotte on being quarantined at home – I love my parents, but sometimes… (rolls his eyes)… OH MY GOD!
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Turcotte – I bought some Bauer rollerblades. They're nice. I go out in the driveway and just rip pucks.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Turcotte & Hults on the KingsOnKings Crime this season, as Penn State and Wisconsin faced off a few times…
Turcotte – They whooped us often this season, they're the best team in Big10. Wasn't much D being played, it was run and gun.
Hults – Getting the best of them was cool
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) April 23, 2020
Strengths: Nothing he canít do when heís healthy. High level skater, good shot, solid playmaking, plays 200 ft game, accountable, not a lot of holes in his game. He goes into traffic, which can be rare for a highly skilled offensive player.
Needs to work on: Put simply, needs to play his game on a full-time basis. Must improve strength, be more consistent. As one scout put it, ďHeíll be playing against the big boys soon enough. Will need man strength.Ē
Outlook for 2020-21 season and beyond: Will likely get a cup of coffee early on with the Kings, however heís targeted for the AHL for majority of this coming season. How quickly he earns a full-time NHL gig will be up to him. Most likely, heís the No. 2 center behind Anze Kopitar on opening night 2021-22. Later down the road, heíll likely wear a letter in LA.
Get to Know the Player: Tony Granato stops by KOTP to talk about Turcotte [LINK]

1. GABRIEL VILARDI: Forward, Los Angeles Kings (1st round pick in 2017, OHL)
Last Season: 0 goals, 1 assists, plus-0, 0 PIM in 4 games played (AHL)
This Season: 3 goals, 4 assists, plus-0, 4 PIM in 10 games played (NHL)
– Won Memorial Cup (CHL championship) in 2017
– Scored in six of his last seven AHL games prior to his NHL call up, netting 11 points (4G, 7A)
– Scored his first goal on his first shot of his first shift in the NHL (February 20, 2020)
– Has had two multi-point games in the NHL, his first career NHL game and the last game of the season (prior to the COVID-19 shutdown).
– The shutdown also occurred during his three-game point-scoring streak, where he picked up four points (2G, 2A)
Talking with a scout around Christmas time:
ďHeís nearing a point-per-game after missing about a year and a half of hockey. Thatís crazy. Plus, the hardest thing to do is go into a season without a training camp. Look at how many elite players who hold out always have down years. Coming back, itís a nightmare catching up where everything is so fast. The fact that heís doing what heís doing is pretty amazing. Looking ahead, just get through the season and get the experience of a learning year. Get a full summer and full training camp. Itís baby steps. Itís taken him a little bit more than a Ďbit of timeí to start playing, but we need Vilardi to reach his potential in 2 years. Heís a player. You watch him play and heís different. In terms of his potential, nothing has changed.
Comments from Kings coach Todd McClelan when we asked about Vilardi recenlty:
ďGabe Vilardi was basically just a name for me (coming into the season). He was an individual that I havenít met until probably December in that range and didnít know much about. Obviously, I heard and read a lot about him and his skillset in juniors being drafted as high as high was speaks volumes for the type of player he is. Not being able to watch him, not being able to create a relationship with him during training camp created a unique situation for all of us. He has come in and worked extremely hard on getting healthy, and thatís been well documented, but what doesnít get mentioned as much is the amount of time that he has spent on the ice trying to get his game up to speed. Extra ice session, extra training sessions and just trying to work on his skillset and he was rewarded with the recall. He made good on the games that he played. In both cases he needs still needs work.
This summer coming up will be his first real training summer in a few so I think he could make real good gains as far as his hockey engine and his ability to create separation on the ice, extend shifts out so that at the 30 second mark youíre as strong as you were at the 15 second mark and all of that is just maturation. They both need that and theyíre both going to be good players [ex note: referring to Vilardi and Mikey Anderson]. There still will be peaks and valleys with them, but thatís all part of the plan here – to slowly work them in and get them up and running so when we are ready to strike again, they are big parts of the organization.Ē
Kopitar on Vilardi – "I like what Iím seeing, he has a great hockey mind, high hockey IQ. Heís making plays, heís not afraid of making plays which is probably one of the biggest positives in his game. Heís playing his game and getting on the scoresheet.Ē
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 12, 2020
Strengths: Strong stick on puck, vision, and power play distribution. The puck follows him, great instincts, high functioning, and makes plays. He plays with his head up and makes players around him better.
Needs to work on: Strength and conditioning, skating, and acceleration out of the gate. Improve his leg strength, as well as quickness and pace. Must play his whole shift with speed.
Outlook for 2020-21 season and beyond: Itís Turcotte and Vilardi. One of them will be the 2C and the other will play wing. Look for them to be in LA for a long time to come.
Final Comment on Vilardi: There isnít a single person in the upper levels of Kings management who even flinched when we asked who the No. 1 prospect was in the organization. Theyíve been saying Vilardi for a very long time. And his performance over the past six months backed up their faith in him. The sky is the limit from here.
Get to Know the Player: A radio hit on Vilardi and the Kings future plans [LINK]
That’s a wrap on another edition of our annual Kings Prospect Rankings. As always, we’d like to extend a special thank you to everybody who played a role in putting this together – from our staff writers and photographers, to every player, coach, scout, and GM who shared information with us. We value the opinions offered and appreciate the time spent debating the future of hockey. Stay healthy everybody. Let’s do it all again next season.
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