The Los Angeles Kings used their connection in Germany to make sure five top prospects will get plenty of game time this fall. Also, the Winnipeg Jets officially loaned their top goaltending prospect to one of the top teams in Russia. Finally, we take a look at one of the most well-rounded defensemen heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Kings Loan Five Prospects to Germany
The Kings have worked out a deal to send five recent draft picks to the Eisbären Berlin of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). Alex Turcotte, Tyler Madden, Akil Thomas, Aidan Dudas and Jacob Ingham will all play for the seven-time DEL champions until Kings’ training camp opens in December.
The Kings and Eisbären make natural partners for this type of loan as they are both owned by the same parent company, Anschutz Entertainment Group.
“The close ties between Eisbären Berlin and LA Kings enable us to offer the young players a special opportunity from which all sides will benefit,” Kings’ president Luc Robitaille said in an official statement. “The players begin their professional careers at a very difficult time. This measure helps them to develop further at the highest level of training and play. And this with an organization that has first-class facilities and resources. We are confident that the boys will benefit from this move and look forward to watching their progress as they help the polar bears prepare for a successful season.”
Turcotte might be the top prospect in the organization after the Kings used the fifth overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to select him. He had nine goals and 26 points in 29 games for the University of Wisconsin last season.
Madden was originally a 2018 third-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks. He was acquired by the Kings as part of the return for Tyler Toffoli this past February. The dynamic forward scored 19 goals and 37 points in just 27 games for Northeastern University in 2019-20.
Thomas, a 2018 second-round pick of the Kings, split his 2019-20 season between the Niagara IceDogs and Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He scored 26 goals and 84 points in 49 total games between the two teams.
Another 2018 draft pick, a fourth-rounder, Dudas served as captain of the Owen Sound Attack last season. The young center racked up 15 goals and 53 points in 48 OHL games.
Ingram, a goaltender, was also part of the Kings’ 2018 draft class. The sixth-round pick appeared in 46 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL last season. He finished with a .917 save percentage (SV%) and 2.96 goals-against average (GAA).
Berdin Officially Staying in Russia
Last week, word came down that the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) rights to goaltender Mikhail Berdin had been traded by HC Sochi to SKA St. Petersburg. On Tuesday, the Jets announced that they have loaned their prospect to SKA until training camp opens.
The 22-year-old netminder has played in North America for the past four seasons. He spent two seasons with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before turning pro in 2018.
His first professional season was split between the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League (AHL) and the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen. He was the primary goaltender for the Moose during the 2019-20 season. In 65 AHL games, Berdin is 32-29-4 with a .916 SV%, 2.70 GAA and four shutouts.
Prospect of the Day – Ryan O’Rourke
Since we mentioned quite a few players who have had success in the OHL, we will stay in the league for our Prospect of the Day. Heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, O’Rourke is ranked as the 27th-best skater in North America by NHL Central Scouting. The young defenseman is listed as the fastest riser in the entire draft class by THW’s Larry Fisher.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
O’Rourke scored seven goals and 37 points, in 54 games for the Soo Greyhounds, while posting a plus-16 rating. He is a two-way defender who takes great pride in breaking up plays while contributing in the offensive zone. He has good size at 6-foot-2 and 181 pounds and can move the puck quickly up the ice.
The teenager is a rare breed who can be the difference-maker on offense NHL teams crave while being very responsible and effective in his own zone. He doesn’t boast a great shot or elite speed, but he rarely ever caught out of position.
His leadership qualities are something that scouting staffs love. He was named the captain of the Greyhounds at just 17-years-old, which is very rare at the junior level. The only other player in team history to wear the “C” at such a young age was Craig Hartsburg in the 1976-77 season.
Our own Brandon Share-Cohen thinks O’Rourke’s ceiling is pretty high at the NHL level.
For O’Rourke, the potential to be a very solid No. 2 defender on a team is within the realm of possibility if he can work on his offensive production. Even if he remains more of a defensive option with the ability to chip in offensively, though, he has the ability to fall into a second-pairing role of a good team.
O’Rourke has first-round talent, but might not be selected until the second round because how deep the forwards class is this year. While he is not as flashy as some other defenders, his maturity and two-way game will make him a high-quality pick for whichever team lands him in October.