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Thread: LA Kings Prospects

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    LA Kings Prospects

    Loaded Monarchs squad dominates LA Kings Prospect Awards

    Written By Jason Lewis, May 19th, 2015


    The Los Angeles Kings have an older group of prospects, most of whom have progressed into the AHL. For that reason, the Monarchs have been a force this season. The squad clinched the Atlantic division and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They now move into the Eastern Conference Finals of the Calder Cup playoffs in an effort to erase last year’s disappointing first round bow-out.

    The pipeline has a group of NHL ready talents, many of whom have been held out of the LA Kings lineup due to the numbers game. Because of that it is not surprising that many of them have gone on to have seasons worthy of recognition in Hockey’s Future’s end of the year prospect awards.

    ‏Hardest Worker – Jordan Weal, C, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏Weal has had his sized questioned as a limiting factor when it comes to his NHL future. He has also had his potential role questioned. Is he gritty enough for the bottom six? Is he skilled enough for the top six? Be that as it may, Weal has done the best possible thing for himself over this season by playing very well.

    ‏Weal saw teammate Nick Shore get a call-up mid-season while having two of his own call-ups amount to nothing by virtue of cap space issues and a coaching decision by Darryl Sutter. Nevertheless Weal has continued to work and round out his game in effort to make the dance. He was one of Manchester’s best players for the second year running, and it is hard to imagine he would not get a sniff at the NHL sometime in the near future. He has been patient and loyal, all the while working on what the coaching staff and scouting staff have asked of him. His shot has to come soon, with or without the Kings. Weal’s strong playoffs so far is further evidence that his efforts will pay off for him.

    ‏Hardest Shot – Colin Miller, D, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏This one is a no-brainer. It is hard to imagine picking anyone else but Monarchs’ defenseman Colin Miller. The 22-year old took a huge step in his second professional season, tying for the lead in goals and finishing third in points among all AHL defensemen. His shot, which has always been a plus part of his game, came to the forefront at the AHL All-Star game. Miller broke the hardest shot record in the skills competition with a blistering 105.5 MPH slapper. Considering Miller stands at just 6’0 and a listed 181 pounds, that is pure technique.

    ‏Best Defensive Prospect – Derek Forbort, D, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏Forbort, like Weal, got a cup of coffee with the Kings this year that did not amount to much. During a slew of injuries to the Kings roster, Los Angeles was forced into calling up their most NHL-ready defenseman. That was Derek Forbort. It was a nod to the 23-year old blueliner, who has been subject to some criticism from fans for his slow progression. As a first-round selection in 2010, he is the only remaining player from that first round to have not played an NHL game. That being said he has come along nicely and now looks set to be a fixture in the Kings bottom-four defensive pairings as early as next year. His safe, low-flash game is looking prime for a test at the NHL level. He has been playing top-pairing minutes for Manchester this season and looks primed to take the next step.

    ‏Fastest Skater – Colin Miller, D Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏It was not enough for Colin Miller to break the AHL hardest shot record at the skill competition. The young defenseman also went on to win the fastest skater competition. This only added to the hype already surrounding the former Soo Greyhound. Mobility has been paramount to young Miller’s game. He plays an offensive-oriented style, and utilizes that speed to jump up into the rush as well as carry the puck through the neutral zone. The Kings are working on helping Miller decipher when it is best to jump into the play and when not to. The fact that he has the willingness and confidence to do that already, coupled with exceptional skating, is a very enticing thing.

    ‏Prospect of the Year – Nick Shore, C, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)

    ‏Shore had an exceptional season. While his NHL minutes were not nearly as groundbreaking as his AHL minutes, he still morphed into a viable bottom-six center by season’s end. In fact, by the end of the NHL regular season, Shore had put together an 82-game pace of about 15-20 points while being the team’s best faceoff man. Before his NHL debut, Shore was a destructive force as the Monarchs’ number one center. In 38 games he had 43 points, 20 of which were goals. He forced the hand of the Los Angeles Kings, who have seen a deterioration of their once-outstanding center depth. While he still has a long way to go, Shore has shown that he is an intelligent and capable two-way center, with a potentially untapped amount of NHL production. At this point, with an aging and struggling group of bottom-six centers, Shore’s emergence could not have come at a better time.

    ‏Breakout Player for 2015-16 – Nic Dowd, C, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏Speaking of Nick Shore, there was another player who had a similar rookie AHL season this year. That player is Nic Dowd. After being a collegiate standout at St. Cloud State, Dowd moved up into the pro game. Unlike Shore though, Dowd seemed to jump off the blocks in his first two months of AHL time. The centerman registered 21 points through the first 32 games of the year. While he cooled significantly through the middle portions of the season, he had an impressive overall rookie season that saw him log 40 points and emerge as a top six center in Manchester. Like Shore, Dowd is a reasonably responsible two way centerman with a potential for some offensive production. His rookie season was very impressive, so look for him to be a big factor in 2015-16 with the top center spot with the Ontario Reign being up for grabs.

    ‏Most Improved Prospect – Justin Auger, RW, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏Auger had his ups and downs this season with Manchester, but overall his improvement was immense. Originally coined as a bit of a project player with an exceptional physical advantage, the 6’7 winger looked unsure of his game to start the year. What the coaching staff and scouts of the Kings were able to do was get Auger to utilize his frame, improve his skating, and play a better all-around game. Defensively he made solid strides, and offensively he has really started to assert himself in front of the net. He troubled numerous defensive corps along the boards and in the dirty areas, which is just what Los Angeles management wanted to see. He plays physical and responsible hockey, which has been the staple of the Kings for years. He posted a respectable 28 point, +14 rated, rookie season. Another step in the right direction next season would be big for the 2013 fourth-round pick.

    ‏Overachiever – Brian O’Neill, RW, Manchester Monarchs (AHL)

    ‏There have been numerous undersized players to excel at the AHL level only to struggle at the NHL level. Brian O’Neill is currently fulfilling half of that stereotype, as he was fantastic with Manchester for the second straight season. The 26-year old O’Neill was a force this season, scoring 78 points in 69 games. He was a facilitator on the Monarchs’ top line, helping both Nick Shore and Jordan Weal have exceptional seasons. Standing at a diminutive 5’9 though, O’Neill has to overcome the dreaded ‘undersized’ tag. He has definitely shown that he can play at the AHL level, and play well, but to think he would have as big an impact at the NHL level is speculative at best. If he continues to be impressive the Kings’ hand may be forced. Given his age and stature, it does not seem likely he could replicate this performance at the NHL level. That said, the new NHL has opened up opportunities for similar players in recent years. The Kings may also feel a sense of loyalty to the hard-working winger and give him his shot.

    ‏Underachiever – Nikolai Prokhorkin, C/W, CSKA Moscow (KHL)

    ‏From KHL rookie star to the depths of the VHL. That was the season of Nikolai Prokhorkin. The young Russian got fans very excited for his potential NHL future when he had a very good 2013-14 KHL season with CSKA Moscow. However, in the offseason there was a bit of uncertainty when it came to his coming to North America. With his agent saying that Nikolai did not want to play in the AHL, but only in the NHL, he had to have a good year to prove himself worthy of that. Unfortunately, he came into this year with Moscow as the focal point of many opposing defenses. What happened, by virtue of self-inflicted pressure or opposing pressure, was that he became a much more perimeter player. He looked far less assertive in the offensive zone and struggled to find the net with regularity. His lack of production and confidence forced Moscow to send him to Buran Voronezh of the VHL to rekindle some form.

    ‏It was a big step back for the forward, no question. His off-ice attitude coupled with his year of struggles has definitely put a dent in his potential NHL future and it appears that the Kings have decided to part ways with the talented Russian.

    ‏Highest Risk/Reward Prospect – Adrian Kempe, W, MODO (SHL)

    ‏Kempe is a risk, although not because of his playing style. He is a risk because of the first-round tag that hangs around his neck. There does not seem to be any questioning that the Swedish winger has the skill set to be a coveted NHL asset. However, at this point his skill set is leaning more towards a gritty bottom six winger than a top line or blue-chip prospect. He is a very smart and responsible winger, but the limited offensive upside at the pro game in Sweden has left some wondering what his NHL future will look like. He still has a ton of time to develop and grow, and his movement to North America will help that. One has to wonder though if the Kings used their first round selection in 2014 on a potential bottom line grinder. If Kempe can find a bit more of an offensive game in North America, he might turn into a player akin to Dustin Brown. That means a top six winger who plays a physical style and could pot 20-30 goals on a good year. At number 29 overall that would be a phenomenal score.

    ‏His international performances definitely give hope he can find that kind of game with regularity in the future. He is seemingly built for the North American style game and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts moving forward in the AHL. In his brief audition, he has acquitted himself well. After three scoreless games at the end of the regular season, Kempe has two goals and an assist in the playoffs, despite a limited role.

    Prospect of the Month

    Michael Amadio

    Michael Amadio of the North Bay Battalion was one of the sure fire finishers on what was supposed to be an offensively light Battalion squad. He led the team in scoring during the regular season and continued that trend into the postseason. In 15 playoff games, Amadio registered six goals and 15 points, finishing in a tie with Nick Paul (OTT) for most on the squad. With seven points in four games, he was integral in North Bay’s sweeping Kingston out of the first round. That strong run of play continued, giving eventual OHL Champions Oshawa their toughest test in a six-game series. The centerman was in fine form all season and the 2014 third-rounder is poised for good things ahead.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

  2. #2
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    New division, new players, but same results for Los Angeles Kings AHL pipeline

    Written By Jason Lewis,December 21st, 2015

    Nick Ebert - Los Angeles Kings

    Photo: Los Angeles Kings prospect Nick Ebert has offensive skills that could translate to the NHL level but needs to use his time in the AHL developing a better sense of when to make safe defensive plays (courtesy of David Sheehan)


    ‏After a big move from the east coast to the west coast, and a name change, not much else has changed. The newly-branded Ontario Reign are coming into this season as defending champions of the AHL, and they are playing like it early on. Part of the reason is that the Los Angeles Kings have a pretty loaded group of AHL prospects. While other systems may have a high amount of CHL or college prospects, most of the Kings’ picks from years past are now at the AHL level. Surprisingly though, only one of the players is a first round selection (Adrian Kempe).

    The team is currently sporting the third best record in the AHL as of December 21 (15-4-2). They are a squad that is very reflective of their NHL counterpart: they score by committee, and they pride themselves on defense first. They have only two players currently in the top 50 in AHL scoring, and lead the AHL behind veteran goaltender Peter Budaj with a 1.85 goals against average per game.

    ‏As the NHL roster continues to call on some of the bigger name players like Michael Mersch, Derek Forbort, and Nick Ebert, it will be interesting to see where things go. For now, it has been a great start to the inaugural Ontario Reign season. Here are some individual player updates on the season thus far.

    ‏AHL

    Nic Dowd, C, 25

    ‏The center is developing quite nicely but is one of the older players in the Kings’ pipeline due to his development path. If he is going to make a move for an NHL spot it will have to be soon. He is a clear step above many other players on the Reign in maturity and his thinking of the game. He is a cognizant player and has been played primarily with some of the Reign’s more powerful potential scorers – Kempe or Jonny Brodzinski. This, along with his strong playmaking abilities have put him up in third on the team in scoring and tied for first in assists with Sean Backman.

    ‏He is a forward capable of playing in all situations, and continues to show that in Ontario. Coach Mike Stothers uses him on the power play and penalty kill, along with giving him tough defensive-zone starts. His face-off ability is also an incredible asset.

    Valentin Zykov, W, 20

    ‏While the rookie Russian is not necessarily blowing up the stats column, there are a lot of positives in his game. Zykov has a bullish attitude, an aggressive presence, and a dogged determination when it comes to the puck. That has led to eight points and four goals in 22 games for the winger. While there are still noted brain cramps away from the puck, he is a young player who is predictably learning from mistakes. He has a work ethic and some strong stick skills that will get him places in the future. His shot is good, and he can maneuver the puck in the proverbial phone booth at times. He is one of Ontario’s best forwards, and he has a ton of qualities that will endear him to coaches of both the AHL and NHL variety.

    Adrian Kempe, W, 19

    ‏Kempe has looked exceptionally comfortable for a 19-year old playing in a professional league. That has to come from playing in the SHL as a teenager as well. He is by no means intimidated by the physicality or the speed and tight spaces of the game. He has 16 points in 21 games, currently playing alongside a combination of forwards like Backman, Kris Newbury, Brodzinski, and Dowd (the latter two more consistently). Right up front, Kempe’s biggest asset and strength this year has been his skating. He has a long and powerful stride that allows him to accelerate quickly with a good top speed. He is also very agile and can cut on a dime. He is, however, noticeably slim and trim compared to many other players. This is something that will improve as he grows physically with age. Kempe also shows an exceptional wrist shot and an above average snapshot. With good power and placement, it’s no surprise why he is one of Ontario’s most threatening forwards in 2015-16.

    Kevin Gravel, D, 23

    ‏Once a fairly heavy defensive-leaning defenseman at St. Cloud State, Gravel has put together a nice offensive game to help elevate his status within the pipeline. He now comes across as a well-balanced defenseman who takes care of his own end first before jumping into the play. His overall improvement in skating has also allowed him to take more risks offensively without getting beat on the turnaround. Mike Stothers has been using Gravel in every situation, be it power play, penalty kill, or even 3-on-3 overtime as the lone defenseman. As of December 21, Gravel was second on the team among defensemen in scoring behind Vincent LoVerde with 10 points in 23 games. LoVerde, ironically, has taken a similar path in his development.

    Jonny Brodzinski, RW, 22

    ‏”Snakebit” is certainly one way to describe Brodzinski’s season thus far with Ontario. He did not score for the first 17 games of the season, until finally finding the net in back to back games to start December. He probably also leads the Reign in hit posts on the season. For the most part, it seems like poor luck with the former NCAA standout. He has a great shot, finds himself in prime scoring position quite frequently, but has yet to bury some chances (sound familiar Kings fans?). There is a lot to like about his game, and the scoring will come around as he finds ways to get the puck on net.

    Kurtis MacDermid, D, 21

    ‏He is probably one of the most under the radar defensemen in the Kings system. After a breakout overage season with Erie of the OHL in 2014-15, MacDermid has continued to play an all-around solid game in his first professional season. While he will not blow the doors off offensively, the rough and tumble blue liner has been quite good in his own end. He has a massive reach at 6’5” and is definitely a physically dominating defenseman. He is as close to a true shutdown defenseman that the Kings system currently has. That being said, there is some puck-moving potential there as well. In a system loaded with defenders, he has carved out a nice area on the 2nd/3rd pair of the Reign blueline group.

    Justin Auger, W, 21

    ‏The massive 6’7” winger continues to be an intriguing blend of a player. While he is not exceptional at any one thing, he is a good, blue-collar forward. He presents little risk defensively, and actually utilizes his long reach well on attacking forwards. He has seen regular penalty-kill time with the Reign, and has chipped in five goals and 12 points on the season. He is still not as aggressive as he might be, despite his massive physical advantage. He skates well enough for this level, but is not overly impressive. If there were a current King player to compare him to, it has to be Dwight King. Auger has acted as the retrieval forward on a line with undersized forwards Sean Backman and Kris Newbury as of late. There is not a lot of offensive flash there, but he can be quite a handful in the offensive zone when he gets the puck.

    Nick Ebert, D, 21

    ‏The “Mr. Irrelevant” titleholder from the 2012 NHL Draft has certainly come a long way from there. There are plenty of organizations that may now look at Ebert’s overall skill set and regret not taking a chance on him much higher up in the draft. He is an aggressive defenseman with plenty of confidence on the puck, and puck-moving ability, who can control moments of the game and make important plays. However, the book on Ebert has always been about when he decides to make those moves and how he executes. When the 21-year old has looked good in 2015-16 so far, he has looked very good. When he has been bad, it has been noticeably bad. Over-aggressive plays have led to odd-man rushes, and long shifts stuck in the defensive zone for his team. The arc of his season has been noteworthy, as he has become a more regular player on the Ontario back-six than he was earlier in the season. He still remains a pretty boom-bust style player though it is early in his career.

    Zac Leslie, D, 21

    ‏Ontario has a ton of defensemen currently, so many that a healthy rotation of defenders like Ebert, Kevin Raine, and Leslie have funneled in and out of the lineup at different times. The excellent play of Ebert and Raine, however, has led to a limited amount of playing time for Zac Leslie. If Ebert’s style is described as night, Leslie’s play could be described as later that night. He has shown a willingness to jump up and join the rush and skate the puck, but his decision making has been somewhat questionable at times. While Mike Stothers has openly stated the team is looking for players to do that, there is a learning curve. Leslie is taking his lumps this season and has played just five games so far.

    Andrew Crescenzi, C, 23

    ‏‘Cres’ may be low on the totem pole from an organizational standpoint, but it does not mean he is not playing sufficiently in that role. For a low risk center playing limited minutes, the 23-year old is not bad. Primarily a bottom six forward with Ontario, he has carved out a decent season so far of seven points in 22 games by playing a simple, physical game, that involves dumping, forechecking, and grinding opponents down. He is a massive guy, and definitely can use his body to his advantage. He is also fairly strong in faceoffs. Like most Ontario forwards, he has played in all situations this year. He lacks for skill and flash, but has been effective.

    Patrik Bartosak, G, 22

    ‏The goaltender spent the beginning of the year on injured reserve, and has since been suspended indefinitely by the Kings due to his arrest on domestic violence charges.

    Joel Lowry, LW, 24

    ‏Fresh off a two-year entry-level contract signed before the season started, Lowry has found himself somewhat lost in the shuffle of forward combinations. He has played only seven games in 2015-16 with Ontario. He has shown, at the least, a willingness to finish his checks and get in on the forecheck when the opportunity arises. Nevertheless, his playing time has been severely limited to spot games here and there and fourth-line minutes.

    ECHL (Manchester Monarchs)

    Maxim Kitsyn, W, 23

    ‏Kitsyn has been about the most successful of the Kings three ECHL players. He has scored with relative regularity this year, netting 17 points in 26 games this season. He is also taking just around three shots a game, which is respectable. Kitsyn, like so many other players before him, just lacks the opportunity currently. The Reign have a lot of forwards and play a pretty heavy emphasis on defense first. The Russian is no stalwart in his own end, so playing time would almost certainly be limited in Ontario. The best thing for Kitsyn to do is to just keep on keeping on until he gets another shot to be back in the AHL. His time is running short though.

    Alex Roach, D, 22

    ‏The big defenseman has yet to really put everything together in an impressive way, and he is also falling victim now to a numbers game in front of him. While his ECHL numbers are respectable, there has yet to be a spot for him on the AHL roster. Until then, Roach is relegated to biding his time in the ECHL with Manchester. Roach is currently third in scoring among defensemen on Manchester with 12 points in 25 games.

    Alex Lintuniemi, D, 20

    ‏The young Finn has had a rough go of things thus far in his rookie pro season. He missed out on the Reign roster due to the depth at D, and has also missed significant time so far on the year due to an arm injury. He has played in just eight of the Monarchs 26 games, though he registered five assists in that span. News recently came out that he will miss the next 4-6 weeks with surgery on his wrist. It has not been the brightest of starts for the Kings 2014 2nd round selection.

    Prospect of the Month

    Spencer Watson - Los Angeles KingsWhile the Kings have an improving pool of CHL prospects, one of them got a mighty fine nod last month. Spencer Watson of the Kingston Frontenacs received an invite to the Team Canada U-20 WJC camp recently. The diminutive yet fiery forward has had a very powerful start to his 2015-16 season, scoring 32 points and 17 goals in 30 games. Watson has almost surpassed his 2014-15 goal total of 20 in 41 games in significantly less time. While there are still questions regarding his size and defensive capability, the offense is not in doubt whatsoever. Team Canada saw that, and gave him an opportunity of a lifetime. Although he was not part of the final roster, just to be in consideration is a great honor and should give the seventh-rounder confidence to finish his season in the positive way it started.
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

  3. #3
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    Top prospects for Los Angeles Kings

    Michael Mersch can provide forward depth; Kevin Gravel, Derek Forbort help shore up defense

    by Curtis Zupke / NHL.com Correspondent

    NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Los Angeles Kings.

    Trades and poor position in the NHL Draft have hindered the Los Angeles Kings from building their organizational depth. They have not had a first-round pick the past two years, and no player they've drafted since 2012 has played for them in the NHL.

    Michael Futa, vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel, recognizes the challenge but pointed out that the Kings' former American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester won the 2015 Calder Cup with a roster loaded with young players, not veterans, and they've been able to find productive players in the second round, including forward Tyler Toffoli in 2010.

    "Our team is littered with prospects," Futa said. "Whether they're top-six forwards or not, they're [ready to compete for jobs in the NHL]. I think the time is now for some of these guys to get rewarded for the work that they've put in."

    Here are the Kings' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

    1. Adrian Kempe, LW

    How acquired: Selected with No. 29 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

    Last season: Ontario (AHL): 55 GP, 11-17-28

    The Kings are high on Kempe, who produced as a 19-year-old in the AHL last season, his second in North America, and has played in two IIHF World Junior Championships for Sweden.

    "He's opened our eyes every time we watch him," Futa said.

    But the Kings won't rush Kempe (6-foot-2, 187 pounds), who turns 20 on Sept. 13 and is continuing to adjust to the North American game.

    "He's made a great impact, but he needs to be bigger and stronger," Futa said.

    Projected NHL arrival: Next season

    2. Michael Mersch, LW

    How acquired: Selected with No. 110 pick in 2011 NHL Draft

    Last season: Los Angeles: 17 GP, 1-2-3; Ontario (AHL): 52 GP, 24-19-43

    Mersch, who will be 24 on Oct. 2, is among a group of forwards who will compete for jobs in training camp, especially with the losses of Milan Lucic to the Edmonton Oilers in free agency and former top prospect Valentin Zykov in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. Futa described him as a "real mucker around the net" and half-joked that he scores most of his goals with his stomach on the ice.

    Futa said that Mersch must improve his foot speed and strength, but his two-way game fits right in with the Kings, as does his 6-2, 218-pound body. This is the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract, and the opportunity is there for him to grab a role.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    3. Nic Dowd, C

    How acquired: Selected with No. 198 pick in 2009 NHL Draft

    Last season: Los Angeles: 5 GP, 0-0-0; Ontario (AHL): 58 GP, 14-34-48

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31: Nic Dowd #67 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames on March 31, 2016 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Futa hopes Dowd holds up as an example of one of the Kings' better late-round draft choices. The 26-year-old is a former Hobey Baker Award finalist from St. Cloud State who probably is the Kings' best center prospect.

    Dowd (6-1, 175) led Ontario of the AHL in playoff scoring (11 points in 13 games) after he was recalled for his NHL debut in March, when the Kings were without forwards Tanner Pearson (personal) and Kris Versteeg (foot). Dowd's game is versatile because he can make a great pass and also be a hound on the puck, the latter a quality synonymous with the Kings.

    Dowd, who is from Huntsville, Ala., and signed a two-year contract in July, should get a long look in training camp.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    4. Kevin Gravel, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 148 pick in 2010 NHL Draft

    Last season: Los Angeles: 5 GP, 0-0-0; Ontario (AHL): 55 GP, 7-13-20

    NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Kevin Gravel #53 of the Los Angeles Kings skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on February 12, 2016 in New York City. The Los Angeles Kings won 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

    A strong season with Ontario and a brief call-up to the NHL cemented Gravel's status as the Kings' best defense prospect.

    "He's made incredible strides," Futa said.

    There should be an opening for Gravel, 24, in training camp or at some point during the season to crack the Kings lineup again. Gravel (6-4, 185) told LA Kings Insider in May that he needed to bulk up and that he viewed his five-game NHL call-up last season as a stepping stone.

    "I got a taste this year, and that's where everyone wants to be," Gravel said. "You want to be up top, and first and foremost I have to have a good summer here and put myself in a position to have a good camp, and all I can control for myself is to have a good training camp when that time comes."

    Projected NHL arrival: This season

    5. Derek Forbort, D

    How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2010 NHL Draft

    Last season: Los Angeles: 14 GP, 1-1-2; Ontario (AHL): 40 GP, 2-8-10

    Forbort (6-4, 212) made the Kings out of training camp and scored his first NHL goal last December before the acquisition of Luke Schenn on Jan. 6 forced Los Angeles to return him to Ontario, where he mostly was paired with Gravel.

    Forbort, 24, has been in the organization for four seasons, and the Kings signed him to a two-year contract in July. His future likely is as a second- or third-pair, stay-at-home defenseman.

    Forbort is recovering from minor surgery for a reported abdominal injury but will be ready for camp, Futa said.

    Projected NHL arrival: This season
    Two time winner of the "Zukes" Cup (2011, 2012)

    Jagr tells the crowd that he wanted to make a beautiful goal but ... "It hit my ass," he said.

    "You know what was great, was today one of his fans mooned me, and he had Happy, written on his ass, HA on one cheek, and then sure enough PPY, right there on the other" ~ Shooter McGavin

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