Manor Kings Sign Pair of Prospects Pushing for NHL Roster Spots Next Season

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There are a plethora of change expected in Los Angeles next season. While some of the specifics may not be completely known at the moment, clarity is slowly starting to arrive. The Kings have signed their new head coach, added a new assistant coach — both of whom will aid with ushering in a new approach to games — and a new goalie should be announced before fireworks go off on July 4th.

The team’s 2024-25 roster is also expected to go through a bit of a metamorphosis, with defenseman Brandt Clarke targeted to be on the opening night roster.

What other changes are afoot?

As previously reported, forwards Alex Turcotte and Akil Thomas have also been penciled in by management for NHL jobs next season.

The former is coming off his Entry Level Contract (ELC), making him a Restricted Free Agent this summer. Turcotte quietly played 20 games with the Kings this past season, easily surpassing the 12 combined NHL games he had acquired over the two previous seasons. At the AHL level, LA’s first round selection from the 2019 Draft recorded 29 points (10G, 19A) in 35 games. He was also consistently one of the best Reign players. A new contract will likely come in the form of a one or two-year extension.

As for Thomas, 2023-24 was the breakout season he and the Kings had long been hoping for. Originally selected in the second round of 2018, the 24-year-old forward was limited to just 13 pro games the season prior. Double shoulder surgery couldn’t slow him down, though. Thomas battled back to be a key leader for Ontario on and off the ice. Wearing an ‘A’ for coach Marco Sturm, Thomas put up 22 goals — second most on the team. His nine game-winning goals only trailed teammate Sammy Fagemo, who led the AHL with 10 GWG.

Hearing Kings and RFA F Akil Thomas have agreed on a two year deal. Second year of the deal is 1 way.

— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) June 5, 2024


Coming off an injury riddled season two years ago, Thomas returned for 2023-24 on a one-year contract. Now, according to Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, he’s signed a new two-year extension. Having the first year include two-way money (i.e. a player earns roughly $100k in the AHL, rather than $800k) is a bit odd considering he’s out of waivers and the Kings don’t have any plans to send him to the AHL after training camp. A lot of things would have to go wrong for Thomas to end up on waivers — and we don’t think he’d clear at this point either.

In fact, it was a little curious to not see him on the team’s NHL playoff roster vs. Edmonton. Late in the season, Thomas made his NHL debut and ended up scoring three goals in just seven games. However, it was his tenacity on the ice that was perhaps more impressive than his offense.

Again, we don’t expect him to be anywhere other than on the Kings roster next season, so the whole one-way vs. two-way contract talk should end up being a moot point. Unfortunately, he was just caught in a roster squeeze — something that shouldn’t be a problem come October, as GM Rob Blake is expected to clear several spots on the NHL roster this summer for players like Thomas and Turcotte.

Also agreeing to a new contract with the Kings is perhaps their prospect garnering the most attention over the past month, Andre Lee.

Selected in the seventh round back in 2019, he’s a classic example of a player you have to watch, not just read his stats line. Back in college, he was known for scoring big goals. At his first Development Camp in LA, it was obvious he had soft hands — especially in tight — to go along with a hulking 6-foot-5 frame. Watching him last season in Ontario, he just kept getting better and better as the season wore along. Sturm often talked about his line, along with fellow prospect Sammy Helenius, being the best line Ontario had throughout the playoffs.

Lee had four goals in seven post-season games this year, coming off a hot end to the regular season, where he had points in six of the team’s final 10 games (including four goals).

Earlier today, LA announced he has signed a new one-year contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $775k at the NHL level. Per the norm for players coming off an ELC, it’s a two-way contract.

Like Thomas and Turcotte, Lee will be pushing for a roster spot with the Kings during training camp. His size and aggression was on full display during the Calder Cup playoffs and more than one member of Kings management noted to us that he’s on the cusp of making his NHL debut.

Based on our previous reports, the Kings are most likely working with five line combos as of now that look something similar to:

Dubois – Byfield – Fiala
UFA – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Laferriere
Turcotte – Thomas – Fagemo
Lee – Helenius – Lewis

Plenty of this ongoing story will continue to sort itself out over the next 30 days.

For more on Thomas, be sure to read the article linked below.

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