Ranking the Top 5 Under-the-Radar Prospects for Los Angeles Kings
You may not know their names, but you should. The Los Angeles Kings have a fairly deep prospect pool, considering they've been to three consecutive conference finals and won two Stanley Cups. Many prospects who have been picked outside the first two rounds have received very little media coverage—players like Justin Auger and Jacob Middleton, for example.
Meanwhile, many LA fans will be familiar with names like Valentin Zykov and Derek Forbort, who should be making an impact in the next season or two. But, it's the players drafted outside the first two rounds who often add the depth needed to put a team over the top. Just look at what Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez and Dwight King have done for the Kings.
With that in mind, here is a look at the Kings' prospects who are flying under the radar. These players probably don't have the skill to play on the top two lines, but if given a few years to develop in the minors, they could eventually suit up for LA.
5. Kurtis MacDermid
The younger brother of the recently retired 25-year-old Lane MacDermid and son of former NHL grinder Paul MacDermid, Kurtis brings many of the same elements to the game as his immediate family members.
He stands 6'5" and weighs over 200 pounds, bringing great size and strength as a defenseman. However, he went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Kings in 2012. MacDermid is obviously a long shot to make the NHL, but he works hard on and off the ice. A physical force in the defensive end, he is willing to sacrifice his body to blocks shots and take hits to make a play.
If he can find a way to become a regular in the AHL, work tirelessly and improve his skating and positioning, an opportunity may arise someday.
4. Justin Auger
Justin Auger is another long shot who has a lot of work to do if he wants to get a crack at the NHL.
Drafted in the fourth round at 103rd overall in 2013—after being passed over in 2012—Auger has a remarkable frame at 6'7", 229 pounds. In terms of size, he certainly wouldn't be out of place in an NHL game now or even two years ago.
However, he must develop better playmaking skills and improve his ability to read plays almost immediately, both with and without the puck. Auger has scored a number of highlight-reel goals with the Guelph Storm in the OHL, but he must find a way to adjust to the speed of the NHL.
3. Jake Marchment
Jake Marchment is relentless on the ice. He is extremely competitive and will do whatever it takes to help his team win—including fighting fellow Kings' prospect Kurtis MacDermid.
Marchment is a 6'3", 206-pound center who some projected would go undrafted, but the Kings selected him in the sixth round at 157th overall in 2014. He plays a good two-way game and notched 10 goals and 22 assists for 32 points in 57 games with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL last season.
He hasn't garnered much attention in recent years. That's perhaps because he's a late bloomer who didn't offer much flash in the way of offensive abilities as a teenager in the OJHL. However, he's developing into a good all-around player and has shown he can consistently win faceoffs at the junior level.
He will need to spend a few years in the AHL, but once again this is a player who could slot in as a fourth-line center in the NHL in the future.
2. Scott Sabourin
Scott Sabourin has had plenty of ups and downs in his young career.
The winger went undrafted but signed a two-year AHL contract with the Manchester Monarchs in 2013. He had an incredible run during rookie camp and training camp, impressing the Kings so much he earned an entry-level contract.
After being assigned to Manchester, he struggled early in the 2013-14 season.
According to Gann Matsuda of FrozenRoyalty.net, Manchester's head coach Mark Morris had this to say about Sabourin:
He came back from [the Kings’ training] camp, and I guess, since he played so well in camp, we were hoping that the same level of focus would unfold here in Manchester. But he really struggled, big time, when he first got here. I think the letdown from camp was pretty drastic, so he sat out some games.
In the end Sabourin had a good showing for a player with limited experience, notching 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 69 games. He may be flying under the radar now, but expect a strong second AHL campaign from Sabourin.
1. Jacob Middleton
Drafted way back in the seventh round at 210th overall by the Kings in 2014 was defenseman Jacob Middleton. Just 18 years old, he stands 6'3" and weighs 200 pounds.
In terms of size and strength, he's nearly NHL-ready, but he won't make his pro debut in the near future. Middleton doesn't offer much offensively, having scored just three goals in his OHL career. He was very inconsistent for much of last year.
For those reasons he went from being ranked 87th by NHL Central Scouting at the midterm to 172nd in the final rankings.
Middleton may have some work to do in his development, but with his solid skating and passing abilities, he is one of the few seventh-rounders who should be confident that time in the NHL awaits, so long as he puts in the work.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.