Los Angeles Kings Prospects with the Most to Prove in 2014-15
The Los Angeles Kings have drafted very late over the past three seasons, but they still have a good pool of prospects.
Many of these players still need another year or two to develop and should get it, considering how deep the roster is. However, many of these prospects still have something to prove in 2014-15.
Recent early picks such as Valentin Zykov must show they are maturing, while draft selections from a few years back must show they are nearly ready to make the jump to the NHL.
These are the LA prospects with the most to prove in the upcoming season.
With Willie Mitchell off to Florida, the Kings will be looking for a defenseman with a similar style to step in long term and replace the veteran.
Derek Forbort is exactly the type of player to fit into that role. Now, the pressure is on for him to prove he can handle the responsibility. Forbort doesn't necessarily need to be a regular in the lineup next season, but he must make improvements in the AHL to show he will be ready for the NHL when called upon.
The 22-year-old stands 6'4" and weighs 212 pounds. While he continues to make improvements to his skating and puck movement skills, he's best used as a stay-at-home defenseman. He's willing to play physically and block shots and is rarely caught out of position.
Look for Forbort to get an opportunity to make his NHL debut this season, especially if injuries become an issue.
He boasts tremendous offensive talent, which has been on display the past two years. He notched 75 points in 67 games in his rookie campaign and was named CHL rookie of the year. He followed that up with 63 points in 53 games last season. Both years he continued to perform well in the postseason, averaging one point per game.
Zykov stands 6'0" and weighs just over 200 pounds. There is no question he has the skill to compete in the NHL, but he must prepare his body for the wear and tear of the 82-game grind that he will face at the highest level. He must also improve his defensive abilities and become a solid two-way player if he wants to excel under Darryl Sutter.
The Kings acquired Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker and two draft picks from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for prospects Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers.
McNabb was the key piece of the trade for the Kings, and the prospects they gave up have good potential. Therefore, the 23-year-old has a lot to prove in his first full season with the organization. He will look to make a strong impression in training camp, with the ultimate goal being to secure a spot as the sixth or seventh defenseman.
However, given the Kings’ depth he may start the season in Manchester, where he played 14 games in 2013-14, racking up three goals and four assists for seven points. McNabb should be one of the Monarchs’ top blueliners and have a major impact at even strength, on special teams and in protecting leads.
The Kings didn’t have a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. In 2014 they selected Swedish forward Adrian Kempe 29th overall.
Although he won’t face any pressure to play in the NHL next season or even the next couple of seasons, the pressure is on to prove he was worthy of being a first-round pick.
Just 17 years old, the winger played with Modo in the Swedish Hockey League in 2013-14, recording five goals and six assists for 11 points.
At 6’1”, 178 pounds he lacks NHL size but has shown he is willing to play physically. He’s a good skater, sees the ice well in all three zones and competes hard regardless of the situation. In fact, he spent much of last season playing in the bottom six with Modo.
Kempe should take big steps in his development next season and add some bulk to his frame.