Stock Watch for Los Angeles Kings' Top Prospects
The top Los Angeles Kings story this week was the trade that sent Ben Scrivens to the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round draft pick. But there has also been news regarding some of the Kings' best prospects at both the AHL and junior ranks.
Some—like Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey—have been called up by the Kings already this season and should make a few more NHL appearances before the season is over. Valentin Zykov is coming off a bronze-medal performance with Team Russia at the 2014 World Juniors.
With that in mind, here is the latest stock report for the Kings' top prospects.
5. Valentin Zykov
It's been over a month since Zykov suited up for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, so it's difficult to evaluate his stock.
The 18-year-old forward played a limited role for Russia at the World Junior tournament, but he did show flashes of the skill and scoring ability we've come to expect.
Zykov remains out of the Baie-Comeau lineup as he is currently spending time with family in Russia, according to Steeve Paradis of LaPresse. He's notched 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in 29 games this season.
When Zykov does return, he must immediately make an impact as the playoffs are fast approaching. If Zykov can raise his level of play and contribute close to two points per game, Baie-Comeau could make a title run.
4. Tanner Pearson
Pearson is waiting for an opportunity to step out of the press box and on to the ice.
He played his first NHL game since November on Monday against Vancouver, a game the Kings won 1-0. Pearson recorded a shot, a hit and played just over seven minutes—three of which were on the power play.
Pearson must continue to work on his skating and improve his play on the forecheck. If he can be more effective in the defensive zone and make quicker decisions with and without the puck, Darryl Sutter should give the 21-year-old more ice time.
3. Linden Vey
Vey's stock is on the rise. He was called up to join the Kings in St. Louis as they begin a five-game road trip Thursday evening.
Vey has exceeded expectations over the past year-and-a-half and made his NHL debut this season, notching five assists in 14 games. In the AHL, he's been a consistent offensive force, with 22 points in 20 games.
At just 6'0" and 189 pounds, Vey doesn't let his size limit his impact. He's a smart, two-way player with good playmaking instincts in the offensive zone. He may have to wait for a forward to be injured before he can step into the lineup. However, when he does, look for Vey to play a smart, simple game with limited turnovers.
2. Tyler Toffoli
It's been a rough few weeks for Tyler Toffoli.
The talented 21-year-old forward failed to register a point in his last 11 games with the Kings and has been reassigned to Manchester. However, the positive takeaway is that he will get to play for the Monarchs during the NHL's Olympic break.
Toffoli got off to a hot start when he was first called up in November. Now he must work to regain that form.
Toffoli is by far the most talented of all the team's prospects. He has good speed, excellent offensive vision and a quick release. To earn a regular spot in the Kings lineup, he must continue to hone his skills in the defensive and neutral zones. And of course, be a more consistent player overall.
1. Martin Jones
Martin Jones has been spectacular for the Kings this season, and the Scrivens trade puts his stock at an all-time high.
Jones spoke with Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times, regarding his latest call-up:
Obviously, I'm aware of the situation here but you never know what can happen. I've just got to be prepared to play whenever I'm called upon. If that takes me to the end of the year, that’s great. If not, I'm going to work hard while I'm here.
If Jones plays anywhere near the level he did earlier in the season, there is no doubt he will remain the backup. Jones is 8-3-0 with a .950 save percentage, 1.51 goals-against average and three shutouts. Performances like that will not only help L.A. win games, it will push Jonathan Quick to be better.