2015-16 Los Angeles Kings Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Los Angeles Kings Top 10 Prospects

Los Angeles Kings top prospects

A look at the Los Angeles Kings top 10 prospects heading into the 2015-16 season.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi has done a marvelous job building his team through drafting and developing and at the same time has helped push his team to Stanley Cup Championships by bolstering the roster with veterans acquired from trading picks and prospects. It is a delicate balance, and one which Lombardi has handled expertly. While the Kings remain a perennial Cup contender, their AHL affiliates the Manchester Monarchs (Now the Ontario Reign) are the defending AHL Champions after an impressive season. Despite not having a first round pick each season, and selecting late when they do, the Kings continue to find value in late rounds of the draft to keep the prospect pipeline flowing.

1. Adrian Kempe: Left Wing – 6’2” / 187 lbs
Drafted: 29th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Kings

After being selected in the first round by the Kings in ’14, Kempe made a strong impression at training camp, but ultimately was assigned to Modo. Kempe was dominant for Sweden at the WJC scoring four goals and eight points in six games and finished his season off with Manchester, helping them to a Calder Cup Championship with nine points in 17 games. Kempe likely begins the season in the AHL, but it won’t be long before he works his way onto the Kings roster.

Scouting Report:

Adrian will have to continue to work on his conditioning and strength to compete against bigger and more experienced players. He excels on the offensive side of the game and will have to earn the trust of his coaches and teammates in the defensive zone to become a complete, all-around player on both sides of the puck. – Daryl Evans NHL.com

2. Jordan Weal: Centre -5’10” / 179 lbs
Drafted:  70th overall in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Kings

The 23 year old centre has completed his third season in the AHL and has established himself as a legitimate offensive threat with 69 points in 73 regular season games. Weal raised his game to another level in the post season scoring at 1.16 points per game pace with 22 points in 19 games, leading his team to a Calder Cup Championship. The obvious knock on his game is his size, but while small, he is a prolific offensive threat, responsible defensively and has a strong work ethic. Weal was recalled last season and even participating in the pregame warm up before being a last minute scratch. He was a late preseason roster cut and has an outside chance of winning a roster spot this year. He could be trade bait as he could be on several other teams opening night rosters.

Scouting Report:

He possesses tremendous vision and hands capable of dazzling a crowd. While he is primarily a playmaker, don’t discount Weal’s ability to bury the puck himself. Another underrated aspect of his game is how competitive he is. The former Regina Pat has an endless motor and a penchant to deliver in clutch moments. While he isn’t a top defensive player, Weal is very shifty defensively and can often be seen lifting sticks, stealing the puck, and creating offense the other way for his team. He utilizes great skating to create offense on the rush. – Mayors Manor

3. Valentin Zykov: Right Wing – 6’0” / 209 lbs
Drafted: 37th overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Kings

Zykov had a difficult season last year. His point totals in his final year of junior dipped slightly, he was traded, and missed out on the WJC due to injury. Despite that, he was signed by the Kings to his entry level contract and could turn pro this year with the Reign.  Physically he is ready to turn pro and has little left to learn at the junior level.

Scouting Report:

He’s a great teammate, and he takes it very seriously. Everything we do. Every rep in everything he does, he tries his hardest. He’s going to be fine. He’s a good player. His work ethic and his attention … he applies himself every time he’s on that ice and that’s going to take him a long way.” – Mike O’Connell NHL.com

4. Derek Forbort: Defence – 6’4” / 212 lbs
Drafted: 15th overall in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Kings.

Forbort has become somewhat of a forgotten asset as he has been slow to develop. The Kings have been patient with his development and allowed him to take his time in college and in the AHL. After three seasons with Manchester he has really refined his game. He has established his defensive effectiveness, improved his physical play and maintained some offensive upside as well as developed some leadership qualities through his experience. This should be the year he transitions to the NHL, either for opening night, or via a mid-season call up.

Scouting Report:

His positioning is strong and his transition game is top-notch. Scouts will often comment that he plays long and they are consistently impressed with his poke check. Offensively, Forbort will likely max out as a 30-point defenseman during the prime of his NHL career.  – Mayors Manor

5. Michael Mersch:  Left Wing – 6’2” / 198 lbs
Drafted:  110th overall in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Kings.

After a successful college career, Mersch had a very impressive rookie pro season leading the Monarchs in goals and tied for the team lead in points in the playoffs. He made a big jump in his development and has established himself as a key prospect for the near future. He should see another season in the AHL as the Kings forward ranks have few vacancies, but given his entry level contract and the Kings cap restrictions, he could force some turnover to make room soon.

Scouting Report:

Michael will have to continue to work at the pace he plays the game in order to succeed at the next level — the NHL. In tight areas he can improve on his foot speed in order to buy himself more time and space to attack and create. His continued focus on play without the puck will help him gain trust from the coaches and his teammates. – Daryl Evans NHL.com

6. Justin Auger: Right Wing – 6’7” / 229 lbs
Drafted: 103rd overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by the Kings.

The 21 year old made a great impression on the Kings last summer starting at development camp. Instead of being sent to junior last year as a 20 year old, he made his pro debut with Manchester and was impressive scoring 29 points in 70 games after a strong offensive start to the season. Auger is a relative unknown for now, but if his current rate of progression continues, he will work his way into the conversation as one of the more well-known Kings prospects soon.

Scouting Report:

Standing 6-foot-7, Auger uses every inch of his body to play a strong game. Though he isn’t the biggest hitter, no one can criticize him for not using his size. Auger dominates along the boards and in front of the net, and has shown he can finish at times. While his top-end skill is lacking, his overall package makes him a legitimate NHL prospect. – Mayors Manor

7. Alex Lintuniemi: Defence – 6’3” / 231 lbs
Drafted: 60th overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Kings.

The big Fin has played his final year with the Ottawa 67’s in junior. He make his pro debut at the end of the season playing four regular season games with Manchester. He also played for team Finland at the WJC and captured the Bronze Medal. Lintuniemi plays a clean game for a big man, and is a reliable and steady presence on the blueline. He scored a total of 11 goals in 126 career games with the Ottawa 67’s, so offence won’t be his forte in the NHL. He projects as a solid third and occasionally second pairing defenceman.

Scouting Report:

After being drafted last year as an 18-year-old, Lintuniemi has been solid. His skating has improved quite a bit and he has started to distance himself from his peers (for example, he made the World Junior team as a younger player). The real test won’t come until he starts to get some of the pro grooming in a few years. However, early indications are he is solid positionally, has a somewhat physical edge, and possesses good transition game. Further, his offensive output is already well ahead of last year’s pace. – Mayors Manor

8. Jean-Francois Berube: Goalie – 6’1” / 177 lbs
Drafted: 95th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by the Kings.

Yet another solid mid-round pick who the Kings have been patient with. After two seasons in the AHL, the 24 year old has established himself as the Kings top goaltending prospect. Berube finished the season with the AHL’s best record of 37-9-4 before backstopping the Monarchs to a championship. He has little left to prove at the AHL level and will have to clear waivers (which is very unlikely) to go back to the minors. With the Kings incumbent in goal being Jonathan Quick and Jhonas Enroth signed as a free agent as the backup, Berube’s future is unclear.

Scouting Report:

A fundamental goalie in the same vein as former King Jonathan Bernier, Berube has excellent positioning and techniques. His angles are top notch and he plays right at the top of his crease, ideal for a goalie of his nature. Berube is athletic and possesses a quick glove hand, which he flashes often, robbing players of sure-fire goals. – Mayors Manor

9. Erik Cernak: Defence – 6’3” / 203 lbs
Drafted: 43rd overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Kings.

The Kings top pick in the 2015 draft is a massive 18 year old defender who has played the past two seasons playing in Slovakia’s top men’s league. Cernak has also represented Slovakia for the past two years at the WJC and has another two years of eligibility. After being selected by the Erie Otters in the first round of the CHL import draft this summer, he will make his North American debut in the OHL and begin his adjustment to the North American game.

Scouting Report:

Černák is a big defenseman with excellent reach and strength. Is brilliant defensively and in front of his own net. Can also play on the powerplay thanks to his hockey sense. Doesn’t take a lot of penalties for a physical player. However, he could improve his skating ability. – Elite Prospects 

10. Alex Dergachyov: Centre – 6’4” / 200 lbs
Drafted: 74th overall in the third round of the 2015 draft by the Kings.

The Kings were happy to have Dergachyov fall to them in the third round and may have found another gem. The only 18 year old to play for the Russian WJC team this past year, has spent the previous two seasons playing in the Russian junior league with St. Petersburg. He was selected in the first round of the CHL import draft, but has selected to remain in Russia and play in the KHL and turn pro.

Scouting Report:

A huge unit at around six-foot-four and two hundred pounds, Dergachyov brings a high level of skill and intelligence to the table. Plays with a lot of grittiness and is able to create scoring chances through bullying his way to the net and then exhibiting his fine puckhandling skills. Possesses a set of soft hands and a keen awareness of teammates’ positions; although an intimidating sniper in nature, Dergachyov has proven himself to be a formidable and creative playmaker. All-in-all, a sizey power forward that has all of the technical skills to be successful in his role as a scorer, and versatile in the lineup as a gritty grinder – Elite Prospects

Honorable Mention: Michael Amadio, Andy Andreoff, Matt Mistele, Kevin Gravel, Joel Lowry, Spencer Watson, Nic Dowd

Recent Roster Graduates:  Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Tyler Toffoli, Brayden McNabb

Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.

Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling

Catch up on any Top 10 Team Prospect list that you may have missed.

Adrian Kempe

Jordan Weal

Valentin Zykov

Derek Forbort

Michael Mersch

Justin Auger

Alex Lintuniemi

Jean-Francois Berube

Erik Cernak

Alex Dergachyov