Dean Lombardi is a brilliant general manager. With the exception of Marian Gaborik, there is no one on the current Los Angeles Kings roster with any sort of a no-movement clause or no-trade clause. And still, the Kings remain one of the toughest teams to beat. Even when Lombardi traded some roster players he supplanted them by calling up players from the farm system who the Kings’ scouting staff diligently viewed and drafted. Moreover, not only do the Kings have a fantastic team with their core intact, but they have a slew of substantial depth in regards to prospects. Here’s a look at their top five.
- Skaters can not have played more than 42 games.
- Goalies can not have played more than 25 games.
5. Derek Forbort – AHL – Manchester Monarchs – D
In 2010, the Kings hosted the draft in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Their first pick that year – Derek Forbort. The 6’4″ defenseman is a jack of all trades, master of none on the backend. He plays the game simplistically and smart without taking unneeded risks. Forbort had his first full year of professional hockey with the Monarchs last season and chipped in on the scoresheet here and there. His potential is still unknown, but some extra grooming in the AHL should be enough to make him ready to play in the Kings lineup full-time.
4. Nikolai Prokhorkin – AHL – Manchester Monarchs – LW
The Kings knew exactly what they were getting with Nikolai Prokhorkin when they drafted him in the 4th round of the 2012 draft – a typical Russian forward with immense skill and nice size. In a translated interview with Alessandro Seren Rosso, Prokhorkin re-signed with CSKA Moscow citing that he didn’t want to come over to North America without having a secured spot on the LA Kings. The young Russian is smooth with the puck, is an effortless skater, and a dangerous scorer. He led CSKA Moscow in points with 37. For a 4th round selection, it’s looking like the gamble is paying off for Lombardi.
3. Valentin Zykov – QMJHL – Baie-Comeau Drakkar – LW/RW
Unlike Prokhorkin, Valentin Zykov is more accustomed to the smaller ice surface of North America and the physical nature at which it is played. He doesn’t look like a power forward, but certainly plays the game that way. With a sturdy build and weighing in at 200+ pounds, Zykov works hard in the offensive zone to create chances. His gifted skillset includes his thunderous shot, fancy stickwork, and vision when carrying the puck. In his rookie year in the QMJHL, Zykov scored 40 goals, but his production dropped slightly this year. Zykov is still a raw prospect, but certainly has an arsenal of skills that could make him one of the better scoring power forwards in the game in due time.
2. Roland McKeown – OHL – Kingston Frontenacs – D
The fact Roland McKeown was still available at the 50th overall pick was mind-boggling to many people who followed his career closely. Los Angeles traded Linden Vey to Vancouver for the pick in order to select the two-way defenseman. An established puck mover for the Frontenacs, McKeown scored 43 points last season in Kingston and was used frequently on the powerplay. He pushes the pace of the game and is patient with the puck. McKeown is also an agile skater that fights to get back into the play if he gets beat. He packs every bit of weight behind his shot, as well, which is blisteringly quick. Although a few seasons away from getting his opportunity to play in the NHL, McKeown will continue to grow in the OHL for the time being.
1. Adrian Kempe – Modo – SHL – C/LW
Lombardi had to wait 29 picks into the first round before selecting Adrian Kempe. Kempe made a name for himself on Modo for his strong, checking style game that reeked havoc for goalies in front of the net. He gets to the dirty areas frequently is relentless when it comes to playing the physical game. His size allows him to shield the puck well and use his patented wrist shot at will. As a 17-year old, Kempe scored 11 points last season, which is better than most other Swedes his age playing against much better talent. He’s another raw prospect in LA’s talent pool that needs time to develop, but he has the potential to be a bulldozer of an NHL power forward someday.