Prospect Pool Preview: Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings have a stacked prospect pool. It’s almost not fair.
Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Tobias Bjornfot and Sean Durzi are all considered graduates of NHL roster and are no longer included in the team‘s prospect pool.
Yet the Kings still have one of the league’s best prospect pools, it’s unbelievable.
Los Angeles has done a terrific job of rebuilding, acquiring assets and making smart draft picks over the past few years. After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 2017-18, the Kings will be looking to take another step forward as their young players begin to take flight. Byfield is at the helm of their young core and this coming season should be where he finally really shines. He started last season with a fractured ankle and worked his way up the roster, but like many injuries, he was still working through things when he was back in the game. With a full offseason and a strong start, this could be Byfield’s year.
The diversity of skills that litter the team’s pipeline is impressive. They have two-way forwards that can help stop opponents like Alex Turcotte and Samuel Helenius. Francesco Pinelli and Kasper Simontaival can secure the game. Jack Hughes, Samuel Fagemo and Akil Thomas are dual-threat attacking presences who can play with just about anyone.
At the back, the depth of talent is just as solid. Brandt Clarke is an incredibly cerebral attacking mind who can single out his opponents with blueline fearlessness. Helge Grans is a fluid skater who can dampen the opponent’s offensive chances with his mobility and create chances for his own team offensively. Kirill Kirsanov and Angus Booth bring some physicality and defensive prowess while Jordan Spence and Otto Salin are active puck movers who thrive when given the freedom to attack offensively.
All that talent allowed them to move Brock Faber, a great defenseman in his own right, in a trade to bring in Kevin Fiala to help the NHL roster add some offensive punch.
So overall the Kings have a bright future ahead of them.
2022 NHL Draft Class
Round 2 (51 overall) – Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern University (NCAA – Hockey East)
Round 4 (103 overall) – Kenny Connors, F, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Round 4 (116 overall) – Angus Booth, D, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Round 5 (148 in total) – Otto Salin, D, HIFK (U20 SM-sarja)
Round 6 (169 overall) – Jared Wright, F, Omaha Lancers (USHL)
Round 6 (180 overall) – Jack Sparkes, D, St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL)
Round 7 (215 total) – Kaleb Lawrence, L, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
After moving their first-round pick and defensive prospect Brock Faber for Kevin Fiala, the Kings were left without a first-round pick. However, they still managed to find solid value and intriguing talent throughout the 2022 NHL Draft. Starting their draft on day two, drafting “the other” Jack Hughes was a great start. Hughes is a solid transition forward who has slowly become more comfortable offensively over the year. His game is precise and direct, rarely trying to do too much with the puck. Hughes is playing a solid 200-foot game and will continue to develop at the NCAA level with Northeastern in his second campaign this coming season.
Kenny Connors came as a pick out of nowhere. The overage USHL center was under one point per game, but his defensive play stood out. He is active in his own area and was a solid penalty killer, using his stick to interrupt play and intercept passes. He’s not too eager to use his body, but he’ll use his speed to cut through skating and passing lanes and alter his opponent’s mode of attack.
Angus Booth is a defensive defenseman who uses his physicality and mobility to defend in transition and will engage along the boards and in front of the net when needed. He can make a breakout pass as his team flies over the defensive zone and make sure the play gets on the ice, but he won’t make the difference offensively.
Finnish defender Otto Salin has missed part of the year due to injury, but he is one of the most committed offensive defenders in the class. He loves to play back and forth with a striker as he runs down the wall or sneaks into the attacking zone. Had he played a full season, he might not have been there that long, so the value of having a player with the advantage that Salin has in the fifth round is a nice catch.
The Kings are strong at almost every position, causing envy in the league. One of their greatest strengths is in the middle. The center position is incredibly deep with Byfield, Turcotte and Helenius. Then there’s Pinelli, who would be the best young center in a lot of organisations. Hughes is a throwable center who has also done well at the NCAA level. Both Tyler Madden and Akil Thomas can play center. but probably pushed to the wing because of the depth in the middle. If just a few of those names become something at the NHL level, it will be a win.
With all the talent throughout, the team seems to lack a surefire starter or a Grade-A prospect in the crease. Lukas Parik posted solid numbers at the ECHL level but struggled a bit at the AHL level. Juho Markkenen looked great in Switzerland last year and will move to DEL for the upcoming season. The Kings’ goalie pipeline isn’t as high-end or deep as the rest of their prospect pool, but they have options.
Next man: C Alex Turcotte/W Samuel Fagemo/D Jacob Moverare
The next man for the Kings is difficult to assess. They have so many young players on the roster ahead of the season. Byfield, Kupari, Kaliyev, Bjornfot, Vilardi and Durzi will all likely be on the opening night roster. They also have a number of solid NHL players filling out their roster. The next man for the Kings won’t necessarily be about a prospect claiming a spot, it could instead be about them coming in to replace an injury and never give up a spot.
Turcotte is only 21, but he seems to be getting to a point where the Kings would like him to start asserting his place in the organization. A smart center who plays a solid two-way game, Turcotte has battled injury and illness the past two years but has looked solid in the AHL in each of the past two years. Is an extended stare all he needs? Fagemo produced at the AHL level, scoring 27 goals last year and seemed more comfortable playing in North America. He could be a realistic option to call if the Kings needed a scorer. Moverare plays into himself and understands that he doesn’t need to complicate things. He’s a dependable ready-made defenseman who could fill in if the Kings needed a defenseman.
Prospect Depth Chart Notables
LW: Samuel Fagemo, Martin Chromiak, Tyler Madden
C: Alex Turcotte, Samuel Helenius, Francesco Pinelli, Aidan Dudas, Jack Hughes
AD: Akil Thomas, Kasper Simontaival, Alex Laferriere
LD: Kim Nousiainen, Kirill Kirsanov, Angus Booth, Jacob Moverare
DR: Brandt Clarke, Helge Grans, Jordan Spence, Otto Salin
G: Lukas Parik, Juho Markkanen, Jacob Ingham
For a deeper dive into the prospect pool with player rankings, check out the Yearbook and Future Watch editions of the Hockey News print edition!