(Photo credit: Jonah Rosen)
While the team may have had its struggles on the ice in recent years, the same cannot — nay, should not — be said for the Los Angeles Kings’ off-ice product.
Photo credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time since their championship-winning days — which was longer ago than it seems — the Kings have a very deep prospect pool, leaving fans excited for the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Among those in said prospect pool is two-way defenseman Cole Hults.
Drafted by the Kings in the fifth round (134th overall) in 2017, Hults was among the first players drafted on the watch of new general manager Rob Blake. Having just finished his USHL career at this juncture, Blake and company were looking forward to how Hults would fare at the collegiate level with Penn State.
Hults did not disappoint.
Over the course of his three seasons with the Nittany Lions, the native of Stoughton, WI, averaged five goals and 20 assists in 37 games. He even increased his goals and points total each season.
I recently had a chance to speak with Penn State associate coach Keith Fisher, who filled me in on Hults’ progression at Penn State, how ready he feels the 22-year-old is for the professional ranks in addition to the youngster’s sharp defensive game.
“He is such a smart player defensively as he has great feet and quickness,” Fisher said of Hults. “He never over-extends himself or gets out of position.”
Keith Fisher (above left)
(Photo credit: Craig Houtz)

His defensive game aside, the Penn State coach was quick to touch on Hults’ improvement with his stick and how he uses it.
“He has great stick position as well,” Fisher noted. “Just having his stick on the ice and in lanes and stick-on-puck, he has really improved.”
Going back to the increase in his offensive numbers, Hults’ freshman season of 2017-18 saw him collect three goals and 17 assists in 38 games, a very decent showing for a first-year player in Division I.
“20 points in a freshman season is a great freshman season,” stressed Fisher. “I think after that, he was more comfortable with college hockey and figured out how to contribute more offense in years two and three. He probably also got more opportunities as his career went on.”
Along with fellow prospects Alex Turcotte, Tyler Madden, Akil Thomas and Samuel Fagemo, Cole Hults is set to make the jump to the professional ranks this year. When and where that will be is yet to be determined but Coach Fisher is nonetheless confident in the blueliner’s preparation for the next level.
“He was such a smart and effortless player,” said the Penn State associate coach. “He would make the game look easy at times. His best asset is that he has a calming influence on your team. He never gets rattled and plays the same way every game and practice. His preparation for games and practices will really help him at the professional level.”
Photo credit: Mark Selders

Assuming Hults will be with the Ontario Reign next season, it’s unclear when the next AHL season will begin. Additionally, with the recent news of the Reign and head coach Mike Stothers parting ways, who Hults plays for may also be significant. Given how instrumental Stothers was with Kings prospects during his tenure, one can only hope that whoever the new coach is Ontario will be, they will take the right steps in preparing Hults and company for the NHL.
Overall, Cole Hults has what it takes to compete for a roster spot with the Kings in the very near future, and that is no accident.
From his defensive talent to his hockey IQ to his ability to set up plays and find the back of the net, Hults will definitely be turning a lot of heads when he turns pro. The youngster even has a winning attitude, to boot.
“He is a great kid and teammate, really liked in the locker room,” Fisher emphasized. “He was very low maintenance in that he just showed up and did what was asked of him. Really enjoyed having him around.”
You can bet that Hults’ next team, whether it’ll be the Reign, the Kings or whoever, will enjoy having him around as well — for a lot more reasons than one.
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