The Los Angeles Kings have not had a strong start to the 2013-14 NHL season. The Kings lack consistency on offense, defense and even in goal. It's still early, but it's worth taking a look at how the team's prospects have fared thus far.
Tyler Toffoli for example, could easily be playing for the Kings right now. He appeared in 10 regular season games and 12 playoff games last season and never looked out of place. He and a few of his teammates with the Manchester Monarchs will likely see NHL action this season.
With that said, here are updates on the Kings' top prospects.
Salary information courtesy of CapGeek.com.
Selected in the second round, 37th overall, Zykov was the Kings' top pick in the 2013 draft. He had a solid training camp and made it through the first round of cuts. But, as expected, he was eventually sent back to Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL.
With 75 points in 67 games, Zykov was named the league's top rookie last year and he's having a strong start to this season. Zykov has five goals and six assists for 11 points in 10 games.
His offensive instincts have been on full display, as has his quick release and strong hands. Zykov must continue to work to improve his skating and prove he can adapt to the demanding physical play in the NHL.
Shore deserves a mention given his performance in training camp, where he was one of the last players to be cut.
The 21-year-old center was taken in the third-round, 82nd overall in the 2011 draft. He is a good two-way player who has great hockey sense and playmaking abilities.
He's had a slow start to this season, as he has yet to register a point in four games with the Monarchs. He has an even plus/minus rating and just one shot on goal. That said, this is his first AHL campaign after spending three years at the University of Denver.
Given time to adjust to play at the professional level, he should eventually have an impact on offense.
2013 Stats: 3-0-1, .951 SP, 1.41 GAA, 1 SO.
Martin Jones signed a two-year, $1.1 million contract extension with the Kings in September and he's earning it early on.
The 23-year-old netminder has been remarkable in his four starts, allowing just six goals. The first three games went to shootouts, with Jones coming out on top in two of them, giving up just two goals on nine attempts.
In Saturday's game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Jones stopped all 38 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season. That secured AHL Player of the Week honors for LA's top goaltending prospect and the way he's playing, he may earn a few more before the end of the season.
Jones may not be a regular in LA's lineup anytime soon, but he's only an injury away from a call up and a huge opportunity.
2013 Stats: 4 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, +2, 3 SOG, 13 PIMs
Derek Forbort made a great impression in training camp, in fact, he was one of the final defensemen to be cut.
The 21-year-old spent three years at the University of North Dakota, before signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Kings in April of this year. He appeared in six regular season games and another four in the playoffs for the Monarchs, registering just one point.
He's looked better in the 2013-14 season, however, with two points in four games. He should continue to play on one of the top two pairings throughout the season and earn more time on special teams as he gains experience.
Forbort has great size and is expected to be a solid shutdown defender, rather than a consistent contributor on offense.
2013 Stats: 4 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS, +4, 12 SOG, 0 PIMs
A former CHL scoring champion, Linden Vey put up 43 points in his rookie AHL season with the Monarchs, before scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace in last year.
He's been one of Manchester's better forwards thus far in 2013-14 and he hasn't even played his best hockey yet. But, according to Gann Matsuda of FrozenRoyalty.net, Vey had his sights set on the NHL.
"That’s your goal—you want to play in the NHL. It doesn’t matter who it is. When you get cut, it’s always disappointing.”
Unlike Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, Vey is still waiting to make his NHL debut.
That should come sooner rather than later. He has been solid offensively this season making quick, accurate passes and getting pucks to the net. He has a team-best plus-four rating and is tied atop the scoring list with four points. Look for Vey to hit the 80-point mark if he plays the entire season (or close to it).
2013 Stats: 4 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, +3, 8 SOG, 4 PIMs
After a strong rookie campaign with the Monarchs in the AHL in 2012-13, (47 points in 64 games) Tanner Pearson looked great at LA training camp this year, but ultimately came up just short of cracking the lineup.
In speaking to Gann Matsuda of FrozenRoalty.net, Monarchs head coach Mark Morris explained that Pearson is still dealing with the disappointment of being cut.
As much as everyone else, I was really encouraged when I saw how he competed in L.A. I’d like to see that same type of enthusiasm while he’s here, but I also understand that they’re [Pearson, Vey, Toffoli] going through that letdown period right now. Although they could have success, it’s more sporadic than it should be, and that’s a mindset, more than anything.
No, Pearson hasn't performed as well as he did at training camp, but with only four games under his belt there is no reason to worry. He's still managed a couple points and a positive plus/minus rating.
Pearson should be a point-per-game player in the AHL and could see time with the Kings at some point this season, depending on injuries.
2013 Stats: GP 4, 2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS, +2, 12 SOG, 2 PIMs
Tyler Toffoli remains the Kings' best prospect by a decent margin, based on his skill and NHL experience.
It was a surprise to many that Toffoli wasn't on LA's opening day roster. Not only was he the AHL's rookie of the year, he made a big impact during his time with the Kings last season. He notched five points in 10 regular season games and six points in 12 postseason games, playing mostly with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
The 47th overall pick in the 2010 draft is just 21 years old and continues to make improvements to his game. He has good speed, a quick release and can handle the puck well.
Like Pearson and Vey, Toffoli has had a good, but not great start to the 2013-14 AHL season. It's likely only a matter of games before Toffoli begins to dominate. Regardless, he should expect a call the moment an LA forward goes down with an injury.