2016-17 Top 10 Los Angeles Kings Prospects

2016-17 Top 10 Los Angeles Kings Prospects

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The Kings have been a perennial Stanley Cup Contender for years now with a core of drafted and developed stars in Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick. To sustain their competitive status teams must continue to feed the roster with prospects that can step into the roster and have an impact with a low cap hit.

The Kings have traded away four of their last six first round draft picks, and as such the pipeline is thin on blue chip prospects.

However, the Kings have done an impressive job making late round picks count and look to have a number of prospects selected late that are poised to play in the NHL.

Top 10 Los Angeles Kings Prospects
1. Adrian Kempe – Left/Right Wing

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 6-2/187
2015-16: Ontario (AHL)
Drafted: 29th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Los Angeles

The Kings only first round pick in the prospect pool, Kempe made the move from Sweden to play in North America in the AHL last year. His rookie season was a success with 28 points in 55 games, but his season was highlighted with an eight point performance at the WJC for Sweden in his final year of eligibility.

Kempe plays a physical style that translates well to the NHL game, but his offensive upside is limited, which could project to a bottom six role rather than first line offensive star. Kempe should get a short look at the NHL at some point this season, but expect to play most of the year in the AHL.

2. Michael Mersch – Left Wing

Age: 23
Ht/Wt: 6-2/218
2015-16: Ontario (AHL)
Drafted: 110th overall in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by Los Angeles

The Kings best offensive prospect played his way into 17 NHL games last season and recorded three points in that time. He has proven to be a consistent offensive producer in the AHL posting 22 and 24 goal seasons consecutively.

Mersch failed to crack the Kings opening roster, but has three goals already early in the AHL season for the reign. It is likely that the sniper is one of the earlier recalls when injury strikes the NHL roster this season. Mersch is close to breaking into the Kings top six.

3. Mike Amadio – Center

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 6-1/190
2015-16: North Bay (OHL)
Drafted: 90th overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by Los Angeles

In his final OHL season, Amadio posted 50 goals and 98 points for the defensive minded coach Stan Butler in North Bay. Amadio played well this summer at Kings Rookie and training camps and will play his first pro season in the AHL. Amadio made his pro debut at the end of last season where he played in 11 playoff games posting five points.

Amadio learned to play a reliable two-way game under Bowman, but is a naturally gifted offensive player with above average puck skills and vision. His skating and size are not a liability and he just needs some seasoning in the AHL before he makes the jump to the NHL.

4. Kale Clague – Defence

Age: 18
Ht/Wt: 6-0/176
2015-16: Brandon (WHL)
Drafted: 51st overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Los Angeles

Clague was the Kings top pick in the ā€™16 draft after posting a 43 point season in his draft year with Brandon in the dub. Clague is a mobile offensive minded puck moving defenceman who plays the game the way the NHL is trending.

He needs time to develop his overall game and add some bulk and strength to his slight frame. Clague will play out his junior eligibility and could use some time in the AHL, but is the current top candidate to run the Kings powerplay in the future.

5. Erik Cernak – Defence

Age: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-3/203
2015-16: Erie (OHL)
Drafted: 43rd overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Los Angeles

If Clague is the offensive defenceman of the future, Cernak is the defensive shutdown future. The Big physical defender came to North America to play in the OHL after Erie selected him 54th overall in the first round of the CHL Import Draft.

He made the transition well, but has little offensive upside. For a physical and strong player he takes surprisingly few penalties and is a smart player that makes quick reads.

Cernak is back in Erie for a second season with the Otters and likely has some AHL seasoning in his future before he patrols the Kings blueline.

6. Paul Ladue – Defence

Age: 24
Ht/Wt: 6-1/186
2015-16: North Dakota (NCHC)
Drafted: 181st overall in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by Los Angeles

Ladue is hot off a national NCAA championship with North Dakota. The 24-year-old begins his rookie pro season in the AHL. Ladue is a puck-moving defenceman and should see some time on the powerplay with the Reign.

Depending on how he adjusts to the pro game, he could be one of the first call ups on the back end. The Kings look to have found a hidden gem in the sixth round with Ladue.

7. Spencer Watson – Right Wing

Age: 20
Ht/Wt: 5-10/170
2015-16: Kingston (OHL)
Drafted: 209th overall in the seventh round of the 2014 draft by Los Angeles

Speaking of finding a hidden gem, the Kings may have struck oil in the second last overall pick in the ā€™14 draft. The undersized winger was injured in his draft year dropping him down on the draft rankings.

In his final season in Kingston he had a breakout year on a line with Michael Dal Colle (NYI) and Warren Foegele (CAR) posting 43 goals and 89 points. Watson will miss the first few months of the season recovering from off-season surgery but should play the balance of the season in the AHL when he returns.

8. Kevin Gravel – Defence

Age: 24
Ht/Wt: 6-4/185
2015-16: Ontario (AHL)
Drafted: 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by Los Angeles

At first glance the 6-4 Gravel may look like a big physical stay at home defenceman. But at 185 pounds, he is is slight for 6-4 and his game is based on his mobility. Gravel has a good long reach and uses that in tandem with his mobility to defend effectively and manage gap control and take away time and space from attackers.

With four years of development in the NCAA and two seasons of AHL Gravel was recalled twice by the Kings last season and has five career NHL games to his credit. While he is still looking for his first career NHL point, he displayed some offensive prowess in the AHL playoffs posting seven points in 12 games last spring. Gravel starts the season in the AHL, but should expect to see some more NHL time this season.

9. Justin Auger – Right Wing

Age: 22
Ht/Wt: 6-7/229
2015-16: Ontario (AHL)
Drafted: 103rd overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by Los Angeles

Auger had a breakout season in his second pro season in the AHL. Auger is a massive specimen of a player. He has never been much of an offensive threat, and doesnā€™t rack up penalty minutes either. In his second season in the AHL, he enjoyed his highest career point total, including his junior career, scoring 19 goals and 36 points in 68 games.

The Kings love big physical players and Auger sure fits the bill, and if he can continue to develop some offensive upside and improve his skating, he could be a candidate to patrol the Kings third or fourth line in the not too distant future.

10. Nic Dowd – Center

Age: 26
Ht/Wt: 6-1/175
2015-16: Ontario (AHL)
Drafted: 198th overall in the seventh round of the 2009 draft by Los Angeles

Perhaps because Dowd would have had to clear waivers, he made the Kings opening roster and has not looked out of place posting his first career goal and four points in the first five games.

The Alabama native seems to be a late bloomer posting 48 points in the AHL last season and is another fine example of the Kings ability to pluck NHL players out of the late rounds of the NHL draft.