After missing the playoffs again for the second time in three years, is the Kings window now closed?
They are currently on the outside looking in, but have been without one of their top players in Jeff Carter all year, and were missing starting goalie Jon Quick most of last year as well.
With having only had three first-round picks in the past seven drafts, the Kings mortgaged a lot of their future but do have Stanley Cups to show for it.
So, is the window closed? Not necessarily, but it is time to start holding their picks and replenishing the cupboard as their depth is thin, but not desperate.
2017-18 Los Angeles Kings Top Ten Prospects
1. Gabriel Vilardi, C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Drafted: 11th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Los Angeles
The Kings first-round pick missed the start of the year due to injury and did not play until he was traded early in the New Year to the Kingston Frontenacs, along with Sean Day. The extended absence did not slow down Vilardi at all. Since his return to his hometown in Kingston he has been on fire with eight goals and 26 points in 13 games with the Fronts. Vilardi has exceptional hockey sense and vision, is dominant down low below the faceoff dots. His lower body strength and heavy stick make it really hard to strip him of the puck. Vilardi has top-six upside and could compete for a roster spot with the Kings to start next year.
2. Kale Clague, D – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Drafted: 51st overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Los Angeles
Clague is an offensive defenseman that the Kings have high hopes for. The Alternate Captain of Team Canada that won Gold at the World Junior was traded in the WHL to the Warriors where he will finish his junior career with one more run at a Championship and another trip to the Memorial Cup. Clague will turn pro after this season and compete for a role on the Kings, but likely will be assigned to the Ontario Reign in the AHL until a call-up opportunity presents itself.
3. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C – Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Drafted: 41st overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Los Angeles
JAD had a strong draft year posting just over a point per game with 76 points in 72 games, and in his D+1 year he is eclipsing that mark. JAD played in the two WHL games in the Super Series against Russia and was held pointless. Subsequently he was not able to crack the Canadian World Junior roster despite having a terrific season in Spokane. Dolan is a skilled two-way player that likely projects as a middle six pivot in the NHL as his offensive ceiling is uncertain at the NHL level. With one more year of junior eligibility remaining, he will have another shot at the World Junior with Canada before he makes the jump to the pro level.
4. Cal Petersen, G – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 129th overall in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by Buffalo
After playing out a successful NCAA career with Notre Dame, Petersen became a free agent and rather than sign in Buffalo, he signed with the Kings. Petersen is in his rookie season in the AHL with the Reign and is playing well as their starting goalie. The starting job on the Kings roster is secure for the foreseeable future with Quick as the incumbent, giving Petersen plenty of seasoning opportunity in the AHL as the goalie of the future.
5. Mike Amadio, C – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 90th overall in the third round of the 2014 draft by Los Angeles
The big center is having a strong season leading the Reign in scoring with over a point per game production – 35 points in 32 games. He is leading the team despite missing time due to having been recalled to the NHL, where he made his NHL debut with the Kings. Amadio played in 14 games recording two goals and three points before being returned to the AHL. He has skill, size, can skate and is close to the NHL. He may not have top-six upside but would be a quality third line center that is responsible defensively and can create offense as well.
6. Jonny Brodzinski, RW – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 148th overall in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by Los Angeles
The Kings found great value in the fifth round in Brodzinski. He had a breakout season last year scoring 27 goals in the AHL and was rewarded with a recall to the Kings for his NHL debut. This season he has raised his game another level, posting over a point per game in the AHL, with eight goals and 16 points in 13 games. The Kings recalled him and he’s gotten into additional 24 NHL games, recording his first two career NHL goals. Currently in the AHL, he will get a few more opportunities to become the offensive sparkplug in the NHL that he has developed into in the AHL.
7. Michael Anderson, D – University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Drafted: 103rd overall in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by Los Angeles
Another great pick by the Kings scouts as they may have had some luck on their side finding Anderson in the fourth round. As a freshman in the NCAA Anderson is shaking the label of a big, physical defensive defenseman as he has found the score sheet 14 times in his first 24 games. Anderson also earned himself a spot on the USA roster for the World Junior Tournament where he played a key role on their team as a shutdown player and excelled in that role. A proved defensive defenseman with size, grit, who can skate and a budding offensive game. He has a bright future with the Kings in a few years.
8. Paul LaDue, D – Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 181st overall in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by Los Angeles
LaDue is yet another great find by the Kings scouts deep from the 2012 draft. Credit also goes to their player development coaching staff as the 25-year-old finally made his NHL debut last year as a late bloomer. LaDue had a huge jump on the Kings depth chart last year playing in 22 NHL games and posting eight points. Expectations were high that he would follow that up with a full time NHL roster spot this year but that has not been the case; limited to just two NHL games LaDue has played the bulk of this year in the AHL. Despite the setback he still has NHL upside and will push to make his way back onto the Kings roster before the year is over.
9. Jacob Moverare, D – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Drafted: 112th overall in the fourth round of the 2016 draft by Los Angeles
Moverare is a solid stay-at-home defenseman with a high compete level and a physical element to his game. His skating is good but lacks acceleration and his offensive game continues to develop. Moverare is a regular in International Tournaments with Sweden collecting Silver Medals at the U-18, Ivan Hlinka and the World Junior. In his final year in junior he has seen some offense emerge in his game with 21 points after 32 games. Moverare will start his pro career in the AHL next year as he continues to work on his offensive game and skating.
10. Drake Rymsha, C – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Drafted: 138th overall in the fifth round of the 2017 draft by Los Angeles
The Kings do it again. A great late round find as Rymsha had a resurgence after a midseason trade to Sarnia in his draft year. In his post-draft year he has carried that momentum with 23 goals and 57 points in the first 51 games. Rymsha is more than just an offensive player, he is a versatile two-way player. He plays a heavy game with a high compete level. His game projects very well to the professional game and to the way the Kings like to play.