Predicting the Next 5 Los Angeles Kings Prospects to Arrive in the NHL
Tyler Toffoli leads the way, as he's proven once again to be a legitimate offensive threat at the NHL level. Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson have also suited up for the Kings this season and have had some success. With those three stepping up, it will likely be a couple of years before another wave of prospects get an opportunity to play for the Kings.
With that said, here is a look at which five L.A. prospects may arrive next.
The Kings selected the Russian forward 158th overall in 2010 NHL draft and finally signed him to a three-year entry-level contract in July. He's a skilled winger who works hard and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. This is his first full season playing in North America, and he should only get better as it progresses.
Jones gets a nod as he makes his long-awaited NHL debut Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks. He was off to a great start in Manchester this season (9-2-2 with a .927 save percentage) before being called up because of an injury to Jonathan Quick. And while he has arrived in the NHL, he may only get a couple of starts before Quick returns.
5. Andy Andreoff
Andy Andreoff was a late bloomer who wasn't drafted until age 20, when the Kings selected him 80th overall in the third round of the 2011 NHL draft.
After five years with the Oshawa Generals, Andreoff put up 26 points in 69 games in his first season with the Monarchs in 2012-13. With 10 points in 23 games so far this season, he continues to show signs of improvement offensively. Not to mention the fact that he leads the team with 39 penalty minutes.
It's his physicality and the potential impact he could make as a power forward that may ultimately lead to a stint with the Kings down the road.
As for the immediate future, Andreoff is in the final year of his entry-level contract, but one has to assume Dean Lombardi will want him to stick around.
4. Nick Shore
Nick Shore was a third-round pick, 82nd overall in the 2011 NHL draft.
The 21-year-old spent three years at the University of Denver before signing a three-year entry-level deal with the Kings in April. Shore is a well-rounded center who can make an impact in all three zones. He's a good skater who can make accurate passes from anywhere on the rink, and he's also developed a much quicker release over the past year.
Shore clearly made a good impression at training camp this past September, where he was one of the final players to be cut. That helped him solidify a spot at No. 4 on the list, ahead of Andreoff.
And although we shouldn't expect to see him in L.A. for at least a couple of years, he may someday compete with Linden Vey for a spot as the Kings' third-line center.
3. Valentin Zykov
Valentin Zykov is the only prospect on the list who is currently playing junior hockey.
The Russian forward was named rookie of the year in the CHL last season and has been dominant again this year, with 32 points in 27 games for the QMJHL's Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
He has great offensive vision and creativity, a quick release and excellent hands in close. He's also shown he's willing to drive to the net and play in tough areas. What's holding him back is his skating. If he can improve that and his play in the neutral and defensive zones, Zykov may move up the list by next season.
For now, he ranks third, but is the player with the highest potential out of the five.
2. Nicolas Deslauriers
Nicolas Deslauriers may be the Kings' most intriguing prospect because of his ability to play both defense and forward.
Drafted as a defenseman in the third round, 84th overall back in 2009, Deslauriers has trouble shutting opponents down in the defensive zone. But, he excels at leading the rush and making plays on offense. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's had success playing left wing this season.
It's a switch that Manchester head coach Mark Morris explained in speaking with Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty.
We had to do it out of necessity. As soon as we spoke to Nic, we tried to sell it—we were short on forwards. We had plenty of defensemen who came to Manchester’s training camp from the ECHL, and we were at a shortage [up front], so we asked him if he minded playing [left wing] for a couple of exhibition games.
Deslauriers comes in ahead of Zykov because there is always a slim chance he could get called up this season should the Kings catch the injury bug. After all, they're always looking for left wingers.
1. Derek Forbort
He isn't the most flashy or exciting prospect, but he will likely be the first one to suit up for the Kings.
Derek Forbort is a solid shutdown defenseman who can play with a physical edge because of his 6'4", 218-pound frame. He has great positioning and vision, which allows him to clear the zone effectively. And regardless of the situation, he always seems to maintain his composure.
Forbort doesn't excel at carrying the puck up ice or quarterbacking the power play. However, because the Kings have Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov, that's not a problem. With Matt Greene struggling with injuries and Willie Mitchell set to turn 37 years old in April, the Kings will need a stay-at-home defenseman in the near future.
In fact, if there is another injury on the L.A. blue line this season, it may be Forbort who gets the call.