Manor Kings Say Goodbye to Two Prospects, Decisions Loom on Three More; Plus Two on TV Today


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2004

College Hockey playoff fever is running wild, especially in Hockey East, where four teams are set to meet in the conference finals on Friday. Both games involve Kings prospects, which we’ll get to in a minute. Let’s first begin with news on a pair of prospects who had their respective seasons end recently and take a look at what their future looks like.

Saying Goodbye​

Not all draft picks pan out. Each year around this time, the Kings have to make decisions on players from both the college and junior hockey ranks. After all, NHL clubs are limited to a maximum of 50 contracts at any one time. Roughly half of those are taken up by players up with the Kings, a dozen or so more are needed to round out teams with their minor league affiliates, which leaves only a handful of remaining contracts for prospects who are expected to join the organization down the road (i.e. 2024 draftee Koehn Ziemmer).

For those unfamiliar with the myriad of rules surrounding players after they’re drafted, teams essentially hold a player’s rights for four years if they’re in college and two years if they come from North American junior teams.

Thus, it’s decision time for players who are now at the end of their college careers. From what we’re hearing, contracts will not be offered to defensemen Ben Meehan and Braden Doyle.

Meehan captained the Umass Lowell Riverhawks this year, his senior season. Originally drafted in the fifth-round (2020), his offensive production peaked last year with 17 points in 34 games. Ultimately, the 6-foot, left shot blueliner wasn’t able to establish enough identity to his game where the organization felt they had to offer him an NHL contract. He will now become a free agent and can sign with any other team.

Doyle is in somewhat the same situation. Originally selected in the sixth-round (2019), he played three seasons in the USHL due to Hockey East shutting down during the COVID year. After finally starting at Boston Univ. for the 2021-22 campaign, he quickly realized it wasn’t a good fit and left school after just eight games played. The 5-foot-11, left shot defender finished that season playing junior hockey in the BCHL before ultimately landing at Northeastern for the past two seasons. He only suited up in 13 games for the Huskies this season. Technically, he should have another year of college eligibility, thus giving the Kings his rights for one more season, but the team appears to be moving on at this point.

Other College Players​

While decisions are still needed on three other prospects, we’ll first finish with some more college news. Coming into the season, it sounded like there was a good chance that Kenny Connors (fourth round 2022) would likely be leaving UMass after his current sophomore season, we’re now hearing he’s more likely to return for one more year. Nothing is set in stone quite yet, as the Minutemen are set to play in the Hockey East semis, taking on Boston College. Their NCAA playoff hopes heavily hinge on this game. Winning the tournament would give them an automatic berth into the field of 16. At least making it to the final game could still get them one of the five at-large bids. Once his season is over, which could be as last as mid-April if they make it all the way to the Frozen Four, Connors will need to decide what’s next. He is considered a top-10 prospect for the Kings right now, so obviously they’d be interested in signing his should he feel the time is right to turn pro.

As of now, Jack Hughes (2022 draftee, Boston), Jared Wright (2022, Denver Univ.), and Ryan Conmy (2023, Univ. of New Hampshire) are all scheduled to return to school, as well. Hughes has a little bit of slow start to his college career, when he was initially at Northeastern. A transfer to Boston for his junior season this year has him playing well. And his BU team is in the other Hockey East semifinal today. Should they advance, along with Connors and UMass, the conference final on Saturday would feature some ‘Kings on Kings Crime.’ All of those games are on ESPN+ and NESN (DirecTV 628).

Wright has seen an elevated role at Denver Univ. this season, one of the nation’s top teams. They’ve already punched their ticket to the NCAA playoffs. Likewise for Boston, so the outcome of the Hockey East tournament will not factor into Hughes’ plans for the next month, he and his teammates are already slated to be part of the playoffs. Conmy is the only Kings college prospect who has already officially been eliminated. That shouldn’t take any of the shine off his phenomenal season, where he’s been one of the best freshmen in the country.

Decisions Looming​

Over the next 60 days or so, decisions will need to be made on a trio of Kings prospects playing in Europe. Kasper Simontaival (third round), Juho Markkanen (fourth round), and Aatu Jamsen (seventh round) were all selected at the 2020 NHL Draft, so their rights are about to expire.

As further proof that it doesn’t always matter where you’re selected, Jamsen may be the best of that crop, despite being 190th out of 217 players that year. The slender scoring winger — and part-time musician — has already been over to North America for a few Development and Rookie Camps with the Kings, impressing on each occasion. His Pelicans team earned a bye in the first round of the Liiga playoffs and just kicked off their seven-game series yesterday. Although they’re expected to go on a deep playoff run, should something happen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come back stateside on a PTO to join the Reign for their Calder Cup playoff games. We also believe he’s likely to earn a contract with the Kings before June 1.

As for Simontaival, indications are no final decision has been made there. Although he shined for Finland at two World Junior Championships, and has produced for his KalPa team, he may opt to play in Finland rather than try his hand in the AHL. Standing 5-foot-9, he’s clearly aware of the difficult road ahead if he wants to pursue an NHL career. His Liiga team recently won their opening round playoff series and are now in the second round. That will be his immediate focus for the time being.

Markkanen returned to Liiga this season after spending time in both the Swiss and German leagues following his Draft year. He just hasn’t found a good fit and his career seems to be somewhat stalled, thus it would be rather shocking to see the Kings offer him an NHL deal. If they still believe in his skills and think it’s just a matter of needing the right environment, perhaps an AHL-only contract could be worked out later this summer. That’s a decision that would come well down the road, though.

And in one other bit of European-related news, we’re hearing there is at least a possibility that defenseman Otto Salin could be coming back to North America soon. He attended Development Camp in LA last summer. Like the others mentioned above, his Liiga team is in round two of the playoffs currently. However, once his season finally comes to an end, he could seek approval from his team to make the trip over again. As a 2022 draftee, the Kings still have his rights for two more years and he is considered to be one of their Top-10 prospects. We’re expecting him to eventually sign an NHL Entry Level Contract.


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