5 Prospects Los Angeles Kings Should Have Their Eye on in 2014 Draft Class
A late first-round pick may not seem exciting, but a few stars—including Joe Nieuwendyk and Corey Perry—have been selected in the No. 25 to No. 30 range.
Keep in mind, general manager Dean Lombardi has been known to trade draft picks in recent years, so the club's current picks could change by June. For example, the Kings' second-round pick belongs to the Buffalo Sabres as a result of the Robyn Regehr trade. But, as per the Jonathan Bernier trade, L.A. will receive the Toronto Maple Leafs' second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015.
With that in mind, here are five prospects the Kings should keep an eye on, specifically late in the first round and early in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft.
Josh Ho-Sang, RW/C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The Kings are one of the NHL's best teams because of strong defense and spectacular goaltending. They haven't had the same success offensively, as they've averaged 2.63 goals per game, which ranks 14th in the league.
Therefore, it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye on Windsor Spitfires standout Josh Ho-Sang. Ho-Sang is a gifted offensive player, with great hands and a quick release. He stands 5'11" and weighs just 166 pounds, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with his skating ability.
Ho-Sang has 39 points and a plus-18 rating in 33 games this season. He's improved dramatically since last year but still has a lot of work to do to develop a better two-way game.
Obviously, strong defensive forwards are the key to the Kings' system, but if they drop down in the standings or if Ho-Sang falls far enough in the draft, he may be worth taking a chance on.
Jacob Middleton, D, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
The Kings have two dynamic, offensive defensemen in Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. With Willie Mitchell on the wrong side of 35, the Kings need to add more strong, shutdown defenders.
Jacob Middleton is a responsible, stay-at-home defenseman who already stands 6'2" and weighs 208 pounds. Like Derek Forbort—the Kings first-round pick in 2010—Middleton doesn't offer a lot offensively, but in the defensive zone, he is rarely caught out of position and shows great poise under pressure.
Middleton won't be ready to make the jump to the NHL immediately and will likely remain a fixture on the 67's blue line for another season to further his development. He does, however, have the potential to be a second-pairing defenseman in a few years.
Jack Glover, D, U.S. National Development Program
Jack Glover is a 6'3", 172-pound defenseman from Golden Valley, Minnesota. He is one of the top U.S. prospects and will likely be the second American blueliner selected in the 2014 draft behind Anthony DeAngelo.
Glover is a good all-around defenseman. He has good positioning in his own end and isn't afraid to take the body. He can also move the puck up ice well, whether he carries it himself or makes a stretch pass.
The Kings should take a good look at Glover, especially if he's able to bulk up in the months prior to the draft. He's committed to playing for the University of Minnesota in 2014-15.
Alexis Pepin, LW, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Always in need of a left winger, the Kings should consider Alexis Pepin of the Charlottetown Islanders.
At 6'2", 224 pounds, Pepin offers a significant physical presence and has good offensive skills.
As for his slow start to the 2013-14 season, Pepin addressed that when he spoke with Jason Malloy of The Guardian.
"The points weren't coming. I was thinking about the draft because it wasn't a good start, so I stopped thinking about all that stuff and tried to do my best every night."
He may not be the most skilled player, but his grit, determination and hockey sense could lead to some playing time in the NHL in a few years.
Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Brendan Perlini has a terrific combination of size and speed.
The 6'2", 205-pound winger is tied for 11th in OHL scoring with 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points in 34 games. He is strong on the forecheck and has great hockey sense which allows him to be effective in all three zones.
The question now is whether he can maintain this level of play throughout the rest of the OHL season. If he continues to excel and finishes in the top 10 in league scoring, he may end up being drafted long before the Kings are called to make their pick.