Los Angeles Kings: The Stanley Cup Champs' 5 Most Untouchable Prospects
Since we're all currently taking a...break...from the NHL, many fans have taken an interest in the multiple junior leagues and levels out there.
The NCAA, USHL, QMJHL, WHL, OHL, and European league seasons are currently underway and filled with NHL teams' prospects and draftees from recent years. Although our beloved NHL is currently in a lockout, hockey is still alive and well in many parts of the country.
The Los Angeles Kings have had a reputation over the last five-to-six years of having one of the wealthiest and most talented youth systems in Hockey. We've seen plenty of players like Trevor Lewis, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, and Slava Voynov come up and make an impact early in their careers.
Although multiple trades have lost the team some prospect value, the Kings still have a system that is filled with talented youngsters bound for the NHL.
Here are a few of the Kings' talented prospects they should hold on to for the long run.
Tyler Toffoli is easily the Kings' most gifted goal scorer in the system currently. So it should be no question why he is an untouchable.
The 20-year-old Toffoli was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Kings and had a stellar junior career. After his 2010 draft year, Toffoli played his final two years of eligibility with the OHL's Ottawa 67's and posted 100-plus-point seasons.
At 6'1" and 200 pounds, Toffoli is already a good-sized player, but he could stand to get a little bit stronger and work on his skating as he starts his first year of AHL play with the Kings' affiliate the Manchester Monarchs.
With a good season in Manchester, the Toronto, Ontario native looks poised to make the jump to the NHL soon.
Toffoli currently has five points, (3 G 2 A) and is a plus-two in six games with the Monarchs.
Center Nick Shore is a promising young forward out of the United States National Team Development Program that is currently playing for the University of Denver.
Shore is already considered a very well-rounded player who can play in all situations. Solid two-way centers are not the easiest thing to come by, and when teams get them they tend to covet them like diamonds.
Shore is a good skater, and is a solid, offensively capable player who can both pass and shoot well. Coupled with his defensive smarts, his value at the NHL level could be very high.
Shore just started his Junior season with the University of Denver and currently has nine points (4 G 5 A) and has an even plus-minus in four games.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin might not be the first prospect you think about when we mention untouchables, but his value to the organization is considerable at this point.
Kings fans got a taste of Jake Muzzin back in 2010-11 when he started the first 11 games of the season with the big club. Muzzin, as expected from a young prospect, had little offensive impact with just one assist and was a minus-2.
However, the 2007 fifth-round pick compiled a solid 2011-12 season with the Monarchs, playing 71 games and putting up 40 points for the club.
Muzzin is a big, strong kid whose physicality and defensive game will fill a big hole in the Kings' back line in the coming years. Veteran defensive-defensemen Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, and Willie Mitchell are all over age 30, and all have contracts coming up in one or two seasons.
The 23-year-old's time to shine is quickly approaching.
Establishing the value of Jake Muzzin to the Kings' system is a good preface when establishing the value of Derek Forbort.
Forbort, since being drafted in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft's first-round, has had a bit of an up-and-down career. He's fought through some streaky play and injuries, but he has still remained a key fixture with the U.S. National Team and on his NCAA team, the University of North Dakota.
Forbort is still just 20 years old, and has a lot of developing to do. If he can assert himself and his 6'4" frame more effectively on opponents, his defensive game could really become an asset the Kings need.
He already has great reach, skating ability, and hockey sense, and if Derek Forbort can put it together with the physicality he will easily be a top-four defenseman for the Kings in the coming years.
Does Jordan Nolan have a skill set that makes him untouchable? Not necessarily. However, does he have the character and tenacity to make him an untouchable? Yes.
Let's not cut Nolan short on talent though. The 23-year-old is a solid player. While he projects to be no more than a third- or fourth-line player in the NHL, Nolan is a great character player, a hard worker, and a solid contributor.
He showed flashes of great hands and playmaking last season, along with a willingness to throw the body and drop the gloves in aid of a teammate.
When talking about untouchable players, it isn't always about what they bring to the table in terms of production. Players like Tomas Holmstrom or Dave Bolland are great examples of leadership and work ethic being valued to the point of being irreplaceable.
Nolan has an opportunity in his young career to be that guy for the Kings.