Kings News & Rumors: Olympics, Prospect Pool Ranking & More

In this edition of Los Angeles Kings News & Rumors, I discuss Brock Faber and Team USA playing their first Olympic game and The Athletic’s ranking of the team’s prospect pool. I also take a look at the upcoming schedule for the team following the break in their schedule.

Faber, Team USA Kick off Olympic Schedule

With NHL players not participating in the Olympics, there’s room on the roster for prospects like the Kings’ Faber. Team USA played their first preliminary game Thursday night against China; Sean Farrell’s five-point game and Drew Commesso’s shutout powdered the US to an 8-0 win.

USNTDP Brock Faber
Brock Faber of the USNTDP (Rena Laverty)

Even though Faber only posted one assist during the game, he clearly gained the trust of the coaching staff, as he played by far the most of any player on the roster — he totaled 23:25 of ice time in the game. Team USA has two more preliminary games remaining: Canada on Saturday and Germany on Sunday. Faber will look to continue to provide elite skating and a solid defensive game for his team moving forward.

Kings Prospect Pool Ranked Second by The Athletic

Scott Wheeler of The Athletic recently released his annual prospect pool ranking. Last year, the Kings were ranked as the best prospect pool in the league, and they fell one spot this year to second in the NHL — this is the third consecutive year that LA has been ranked in the top two.

The Kings are coming out of their rebuild with an arsenal of elite, young talent. Wheeler’s top three prospects include Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke, and Alex Turcotte. From there, the team has incredible depth down the middle with names like Gabriel Vilardi, Akil Thomas, and Francesco Pinelli, some elite wingers such as Kasper Simontaival and Samuel Fagemo, and exciting defensemen like Brandt Clarke and Helge Grans.

Related: Kings’ Prospect Pool Alone Makes a Pretty Impressive Roster

This season, we’ve seen some of the team’s top prospects get time with the Kings: Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, and Samuel Fagemo. This has created a balance of up-and-coming players and veterans which has pushed the team into the playoff race. As the team continues to get more competitive, we will start to see less and less of the latter and more of the former as different prospects get a shot at the NHL.

Kings to Return to Play Tuesday Versus Oilers

The Kings are in the midst of what was originally scheduled as the break for the Olympics but is now being used to make up games that were previously postponed. LA will return to play on Tuesday versus the Edmonton Oilers, nearly two weeks since their last game versus the Detroit Red Wings — a 5-2 win.

Dissimilar to the Kings, the Oilers will have had a packed schedule heading into Tuesday’s contest; they will have played four games over the course of the week prior to the game. It will be interesting to see if the rest the Kings have gotten will be to their advantage or if they will be slower to get into the game.

Edmonton Oilers Celebrate
Jesse Puljujarvi #13 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates a goal against the Vancouver Canucks with teammates Darnell Nurse #25, Connor McDavid #97, Leon Draisaitl #29 and Tyson Barrie #22 (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

If the latter is the case, Connor McDavid and the rest of the Oilers could give the Kings a very hard time. That said, Los Angeles is a hot team coming back to play; the team has not lost a game in regulation since Jan. 20 versus the Colorado Avalanche — a 4-1 final score.

This game against the Oilers and the coming games the Kings have against the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks will be crucial ones. Right now, Vegas leads the Pacific Division with 59 points, followed by the Calgary Flames with 56, Kings and Ducks with 55 each, and Oilers with 49.

However, the playoff race is even closer than it looks due to the varying number of games the teams have played. The fourth-place Flames actually lead the Pacific with their .636 points percentage (P%). The Golden Knights are in second with a .615 P%, followed by the Kings with a .585 P%, Ducks with a .573 P%, and Oilers with a .557 P%. The Kings, Ducks, and Oilers are in a pretty tight race for the second and third playoff spots, so capitalizing on these games, specifically, could be huge come April.

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