The Most Exciting Part of Each Top Los Angeles Kings Prospect's Game
The Los Angeles Kings prospect pool isn't as deep as it once was. In recent years we've witnessed the departures of Andrei Loktionov, Wayne Simmonds, Thomas Hickey and others.
And yet, the Kings still have a few players at the top of their list who have the potential to enjoy long NHL careers. Each of these players has something important to offer, a skill or ability which makes them stand out on their current team or league.
Continue reading to find out what makes each L.A. prospect so exciting to watch.
Stats courtesy of HockeyDB.com.
Valentin Zykov: Driving to the Net
The Kings made Valentin Zykov their first choice in the 2013 NHL entry draft, selecting him 37th overall.
The 18-year-old spent last season, his first in North America, playing for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL. At this point, the most exciting part of his game is his ability to drive hard to the net.
At 6'0", 209 pounds, Zykov use a mix of size, skill and raw determination when taking the puck to the net and when getting open to create a scoring opportunity. He has a strong release and good hands, which allows him to be a highly effective player in the offensive zone.
Zykov finished with 40 goals and 35 assists for 75 points in 67 games last year. That helped him earn Rookie of the Year honors not only in the QMJHL, but the entire CHL. Zykov also tallied 19 points in 19 playoffs games, showing he can raise his level of play in crucial situations.
Derek Forbort: Passing
Derek Forbort is a prime example of a solid shutdown defenseman. At 6'5", 198 pounds, Forbort works hard in his own zone to out-muscle opponents in the corners and in front of the net.
He doesn't often choose to carry the puck up the ice; instead, Forbort shows off his remarkable ability to make tape-to-tape passes to almost anywhere on the ice. It's easily the most exciting part of his game. Forbort can make long, lead passes up the ice, passes through traffic in the offensive zone and even drop passes between his legs.
The 21-year-old has showed off these skills at the University of North Dakota for the past three seasons, while appearing in just six games with the Monarchs thus far.
Watch for Forbort to be a key piece of Manchester's lineup next season, as he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Kings in the spring.
Nicolas Deslauriers: Leading the Attack
The 22-year-old has two seasons' worth of experience in the AHL and four in the QMJHL. In that time he's proven to be very much the opposite of Derek Forbort.
Deslauriers is an offensive defenseman who can lead the rush with ease. His strong skating ability makes his strides seem effortless, and his puck-handling skills are superb for a blueliner. His only major downfall is he sometimes joins the rush in the wrong situation and gets caught deep.
Deslauriers also plays with a physical edge, and as you can see in the video above, he's a tenacious fighter.
Linden Vey: Quick Hands Around the Net
What he lacks in size, Linden Vey makes up for with determination.
The most exciting aspect of the 22-year-old's game is his great hands around the net. Barely 6'0" tall and weighing less than 185 pounds, Vey has no problem driving to the net. With the puck, Vey will often use his quick hands to deke and go low on the netminder. Without it, he will find an open space to accept a pass and score off a one-timer.
His accuracy and quickness around the net is not unlike New York Islanders star John Tavares. Vey should be playing in the NHL eventually; the question is whether or not he can be a top-six forward.
For now he will remain in Manchester, where he recorded 22 goals and 46 assists for 67 points in 74 games last season.
Tanner Pearson: Shot
A late bloomer, Tanner Pearson was passed over in two consecutive drafts before being taken 30th overall by the Kings in 2012. Now 21 years old, Pearson continues to make great strides in improving all aspects of his game.
While his most valuable asset at this point is his ability to play sound two-way hockey, the most exciting part of his game is his shot.
When Pearson finds a little space in the slot, his rapid release allows him to pick corners with ease, as shown in the video above.
You can expect to see Pearson's wicked wrist shot on display in Manchester throughout next season, as he and Linden Vey will likely be the Monarch's top-two scorers.