The tides are turning in Southern California. Not too long ago, the Los Angeles Kings were on top of the world and hoisted the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, bad cap management has plagued the Kings and now they are slowly rebuilding.
Fortunately for Kings Nation, general manager Rob Blake and his front office have done an excellent job stocking up their farm system.
1. Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP (USDP) & USNTDP Juniors (USHL)
Drafted: 5th overall in the 2019 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
While Alex Turcotte was taken fifth overall in the 2019 entry draft. If he was completely healthy last season, he could have gone higher. It is remarkable that he came back from injury and lit up the scoreboard like he did. In 37 games for the US National U18 Team, he tallied 27 goals and 35 assists. In addition, he recorded 12 goals and 22 assists in 16 games for the USNTDP Juniors.
This season, Turcotte will be playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and their superstar loaded team. Turcotte will be playing alongside Cole Caufield (Montréal Canadiens prospect), Jack Gorniak (Canadiens prospect), K’Andre Miller (New York Rangers prospect), Linus Weissbach (Buffalo Sabres prospect), Dylan Holloway (2020 Draft Eligible prospect), Ryder Donovan (Vegas Golden Knights prospect), Tyler Inamoto (Florida Panthers prospect), Owen Lindmark (Panthers prospect), Max Zimmer (Carolina Hurricanes prospect) and Ty Emberson (Arizona Coyotes prospect).
In terms of Turcotte’s skill-set, he is an offensive powerhouse. Turcotte is an excellent playmaker and has a nose for the net. His skating is superb as he is equipped with great speed and he drives hard to the net consistently. In addition, Turcotte has an accurate shot and tends to create plenty of space for himself. He could make a great one-two punch with Anze Kopitar down the road.
2. Gabriel Vilardi, C, Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 11th overall in the 2017 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
Last season was an unfortunate one for the former Windsor Spitfires and Kingston Frontenacs centre as he was injured and only played in four games for the Ontario Reign. If Vilardi can be predominantly healthy this season, condition properly and ensure that he does not suffer another back injury.
Aside from health concerns, Vilardi can be a dominant offensive force as he has shown throughout his junior career. Yet, his skating is questionable. If Vilardi fails to improve his speed, his NHL career might be a short one. With that being said, there is no doubt that Vilardi has exceptional offensive talent. In his 2017-18 campaign with the Frontenacs, he recorded 22 goals and 36 assists in 32 games.
3. Rasmus Kupari, C, Kärpät (Liiga)
Drafted: 20th overall in the 2018 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
Last season, the Finnish national was loaned out to Kärpät and was nothing but impressive. In 43 games played, Kupari recorded 12 goals and 21 assists. It is huge improvement if you compare those results to his 2017-18 performance with Kärpät in which he totaled six goals and eight assists in 39 games. After his stellar performance this past season in the Liiga, he looks prime to make the jump to North America and will likely suit up for the Ontario Reign.
Kupari is an elite playmaker. His passing ability is fantastic as he tends to pin-point the most potent teammates in ideal situations. In addition, the Kotka, Finland native has exceptional speed and phenomenal edge work. There is a lot to love about Kupari.
4. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) & Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Drafted: 41st overall in the 2017 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
Yes, another top centre prospect. The Los Angeles Kings have done an impeccable job of stocking up great centre prospects.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan is coming off of a mediocre season with the Spokane Chiefs. He missed a decent amount of time due to a wrist injury. Unfortunately, the injury seemed to have slowed down Anderson-Dolan’s production, but he still recorded plenty of points and proved to be one of the most reliable forwards for Spokane.
In terms of his playing style, he is solid two-way centre and has the potential for loads of success in the NHL. He is projected to be bottom-six centre, but has upside and could blossom into a second-line centre.
5. Akil Thomas, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Drafted: 51st overall in the 2018 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
The Toronto, Ontario native had an outstanding season with the Niagara IceDogs in which he recorded 38 goals and 64 assists in 63 games played. Thomas was the eighth highest point producer in the OHL following Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights prospect), Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings prospect), Kevin Hancock, Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers prospect), Tye Felhaber (Dallas Stars prospect), Justin Brazeau (now on the Toronto Marlies) and Jason Robertson (Stars prospect).
As mentioned above, Thomas is an extremely talented offensive producer, but he also dominates in the defensive and neutral zones. If you need a solid breakup specialist, look no further. Akil Thomas is your guy. Also, similarly to Turcotte and Kupari, Thomas has electric speed.
6. Kale Clague, LHD, Ontario Reign (AHL)
Drafted: 51st overall in the 2016 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
The Regina, Saskatchewan native looks like the next great offensive defenseman in the making for the Los Angeles Kings.
Last season, in 52 games played for the Ontario Reign, he recorded seven goals and 22 assists. Unfortunately, he was injured and missed 30 games, but when he was in the lineup he made up for it.
In terms of his playing style, Clague is a solid skater. He will evade the opposition, use his edges to make gentle and tight turns in an effort to create space. Plus, he has an outstanding wrist shot and seems to have a knack for creating scoring chances especially on the power play.
7. Sean Durzi, RHD, Owen Sound Attack (OHL) & Guelph Storm (OHL)
Drafted: 52nd overall in the 2018 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Durzi, who was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings alongside Carl Grundström for left-handed defenseman Jake Muzzin prior to the 2018-19 trade deadline.
Durzi has an excellent wrist shot and can be an effective power play quarterback. He has a knack for finding open teammates and loves to control the pace of the game. In addition, he has quality speed and outstanding transitional play.
Last season, he split his time between the Owen Sound Attack and the Guelph Storm. At the OHL Trade Deadline, he was dealt with Nick Suzuki to the Guelph Storm as the Storm looked to bulk up their roster prior to the OHL playoffs. In total, Durzi mustered up 11 goals and 26 assists in 35 games played.
8. Carl Grundström, LW/RW, Toronto Marlies (AHL), Ontario Reign (AHL) & Los Angeles Kings
Drafted: 57th overall in the 2016 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs
As mentioned previously, Carl Grundström was dealt to the Kings prior the deadline. Before the deadline, he was playing for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Grundström did not have a clear spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs and that left Grundström as an expendable asset.
In 42 games played for the Marlies, Grundström had recorded 13 goals and 16 assists. Grundström was one of the top producing forwards for the Marlies and that made him very attractive for the Kings.
After the trade, Grundström split his time between the Ontario Reign and the Los Angeles Kings. He played in 13 games for the Reign and 15 games for the Kings. Grundström was more effective in the AHL, but that mostly had to do with his line placement and playing time.
In terms of Grundström’s skill-set, he has a physical side and will not shy away from open-ice hits. In addition, he is a strong shooter and can deliver quality shots from various spots in the offensive zone. He also can be a strong asset on the power play. The Kings have not experimented with him on the power play yet, but they could change that for this upcoming season.
9. Cal Petersen, G, Ontario Reign (AHL) & Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Drafted: 129th overall in the 2013 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
Last season was a bit of a rough one for the Waterloo, Iowa native. He spent the bulk of the season with the Ontario Reign and posted a high goals against average of 4.02 and an awful save percentage of .896. Yet, he did play in 11 games for the Kings and posted quality numbers.
Petersen is an effective goaltender. His reflexes are solid. Most of the time, Petersen has his knees bent and is ready to drop. His transitioning can be a bit slow, but still has the capability of making jaw dropping pad saves. In all likelihood, Petersen’s ceiling is a backup goaltender in the NHL, but if he can muster up a solid season in Ontario and improve, the sky is the limit.
10. Tobias Björnfot, LHD, Djurgårdens IF J18 (J18 Allsvenskan), Djurgårdens IF J20 (SuperElit) & Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
Drafted: 22nd overall in the 2019 draft by the Los Angeles Kings
Swedish left handed defenseman Tobias Björnfot is a solid two-way defenseman. He has top four upside and thrives at moving the puck up the ice. Additionally, he possesses solid speed and great crossovers.
Last season, Björnfot spent most of his time with Djurgårdens IF J20 of the SuperElit. In 39 games for Djurgårdens, he recorded 11 goals and 11 assists. Aside from his time with Djurgårdens IF J20, he suited up in seven games for the Djurgårdens IF SHL squad and 22 games for Sweden U18.
This season, he will continue to play in the Djurgårdens system and if all goes well, he could potentially make the jump to North America in the 2020-21 season.