Originally published by NHLRumors.com
The L.A. Kings had a great run collecting two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. Since then, the team has gone into a tear down and rebuild mode.
After accumulating several draft picks and prospects, the organization is ready to turn the corner and become a contending team again with a new, young core.
The Kings have been at the top of the team rankings for prospects for years now, but several graduations have depleted the prospect pipeline, but there is still some good depth there.
The Kings average age on the NHL roster is below 26 years old with players such as Quinton Byfield, Gabe Vilardi, Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Mikey Anderson, and Sean Durzi all recently graduated from the prospect pool.
1. Brandt Clarke, RD – Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, eighth overall by Los Angeles Kings
Clarke started the season in the NHL with the Kings while they had some injuries. He played well, but was moved to the press box, and then assigned to the AHL for a conditioning stint. Now loaned out to Team Canada for the WJC, the question is where will Clarke play after the WJC? He could be returned to the OHL and preserve the first year of his ELC, or he can come back to the NHL and play limited time. The most likely scenario seems to be the OHL as there is no need to rush him along given the Kings depth on defence.
2. Jordan Spence, RD – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round four 95th overall by Los Angeles Kings
The Kings found a draft gem in the fourth round with Spence. The now second-year pro has produced 63 points in 68 career AHL games and had an extended 24 NHL game audition last year where he posted eight points. He is an undersized, skilled, mobile offensive right-shot defenseman that teams covet. The Kings have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offensive right-shot defensemen even after trading Brock Faber to Minnesota for Kevin Fiala.
3. Alex Turcotte, C – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one fifth overall by Los Angeles Kings
After drafting Turcotte fifth overall ahead of options the likes of Trevor Zegras, Spencer Knight, and Moritz Seider, Turcotte’s stock has been in decline. He had a solid freshman year with Wisconsin posting 26 points in 29 games. He should have stayed in college but had a good rookie season during the pandemic year in the AHL where many of the top players were on NHL taxi squads. Turcotte also helped USA to a Gold Medal scoring eight points in seven games. A concussion limited him to just 35 games last year between the NHL and AHL and cost him training camp and the start of the current season as well. His production in the AHL has been underwhelming but as he regains his timing hopefully, he can raise his production and return to the play his draft stock demands.
4. Samuel Fagemo, LW/RW – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two 50th overall by Los Angeles Kings
Drafted as an overage prospect, Fagemo has continued to evolve into a legit prospect after being overlooked in his first round of draft eligibility. Fagemo is now in his third full season in North America and continues to provide consistent offense at the AHL level. He has had a few cups of coffee in the NHL and in his recent three-game recall scored a goal and an assist.
Fagemo is an aggressive forechecker and pursues puck possession furiously at times. He is a shooter and offensive driver. He has the offensive upside to play a top-six role and the energy to play a middle-six role as well.
5. Helge Grans, RD – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two 35th overall by Los Angeles Kings
Another offensive right-shot defenseman in the Kings system, Grans has a physical advantage over Clarke and Spencer, but perhaps less offensive upside. He produced 24 points in 56 games in his rookie season in the AHL last year, improving on his SHL production.
Grans is a bit of a darling in the scouting community as he checks all the boxes, mobile, big, offensive right shot defender that is solid in his own zone. Given the log jam on the Kings blueline and the competition in the system, the Kings can be extra patient with their prospects and allow them to over-ripen in the AHL.
6. Francesco Pinelli, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round two 42nd overall by Los Angeles Kings
In his fourth and final season in the OHL, Pinelli has seen his offensive production steadily improve from his strong rookie season totals of 41 points to 60 points last season. In between with no OHL to play in, he found a home in the AlpsHL and racked up 11 points in 13 games. To strengthen his draft stock, he scored 11 points in seven U18 games with Team Canada. Pinelli’s game is driven by his above-average hockey sense and his above-average skill set. Next year we will see how he adapts to a faster pace at the AHL level.
7. Tyler Madden, C – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round three 68th overall by Vancouver Canucks
Madden made a name for himself while playing for the Northeastern Huskies in the NCAA for two seasons. His performance on the grand stage of the WJC also garnered attention as he recorded four points in seven games for USA. Now in his third season in the AHL he has continued to show improvement after a slow start and some injuries.
8. Kirill Kirsanov, LD – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Drafted: 2021 round three 84th overall by Los Angeles Kings
Kirsanov is still only 20 years old and now is a three-year veteran of the KHL, a difficult achievement for a teenager. Kirsanov is a solid, smooth-skating two-way defender, but the offensive upside is questionable at the NHL level. Kirsanov is under contract through the 2024-25 season and could probably use a year of adjustment and seasoning in the AHL before he sees NHL time, so 2025-26 at best.
9. Jack Hughes, C – Northeastern University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2022 round two 51st overall by Los Angeles Kings
The Kings first selection at the 2022 draft in Montreal was the Son of the Canadiens GM, Kent Hughes (no relation to the Hughes brothers, Jack, Quinn and Luke). Because of his late birthday, he was not draft eligible after playing for the USNTDP and his draft year was as an NCAA freshman. Now a sophomore his game is slightly behind his freshman pace. Hughes is a speedy forward who projects as more of a middle-six player than a top-line offensive driver.
10. Akil Thomas, C/RW – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round two 51st overall by Los Angeles Kings
Thomas is in his third professional season and a shoulder injury has significantly disrupted his development. Limited to 40 games the past two seasons, this third season will be an important one for his development to stay healthy and improve his offensive production. Thomas was a prolific scorer in junior and scored the Golden goal for Canada at the WJC but projecting him to the NHL he likely finds a role as an energy player in a middle-six role with offensive upside.
Alex Laferriere: Sophomore at Harvard posting a point per game production.
Kenny Connors: Freshman at UMASS is going to the WJC with Team USA.
Kasper Simontaival: Continues to develop in Liiga, but needs to improve his production.
Martin Chromiak: Big shot, quick hands but struggling with the faster pace of AHL.