With the American Hockey League season starting exactly a month from today and the NHL season kicking off with training camp in a couple of weeks, it is time to look at some Los Angeles Kings' minor league players who could play a role this season.
The Manchester Monarchs, the main affiliate for the Los Angeles Kings, had a good run last year before losing in the playoffs to the Binghamton Senators, the affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. They saw numerous players go up to the NHL squad, including goaltender Jonathan Bernier, forwards Kevin Westgarth, Oscar Moller, Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford, and defenseman Alec Martinez.
It is time to look at some prospects who could make an appearance at the Staples Center this season for the Kings.
Position: Defense 2010-11 Stats:
77 Games Played
HockeysFuture.com Ranking (KINGS ONLY): #7
Thomas Hickey was one of the top defensemen with Viatcheslav Voynov for the Manchester Monarchs in the 2010-11 season. Hickey possesses a great deal of skill with the puck and a knack for scoring. This skill finds him on the power play a lot for Manchester.
Hickey was out a lot with an upper-body injury in the 2009-10 season. However, he is fully healthy and expects to make an appearance with the Kings this year, much like defenseman Jake Muzzin did last year.
Position: Left Wing
HockeysFuture.com Ranking (KINGS ONLY): #16
Dwight King appeared in six games for the Los Angeles Kings in which he had no points and a -2 plus-minus. However, in Manchester, King was second on the team in goals with 24, and third in points.
King is a very versatile and strong winger who can play on the power play and the penalty kill. He could definitely find himself with a third- or fourth-line spot in the Kings lineup during the season if he makes the opening day roster.
Position: Right Wing
HockeysFuture.com Ranking (KINGS ONLY): #10
As a 21-year-old rookie, Brandon Kozun made an impact on the Manchester Monarchs last season as he notched 23 goals and 25 assists as well as 48 penalty minutes. Do not look down on this guy just because of his short stature (5'8").
Kozun knows how to use his strength as he is a solid player on the puck. In the NHL, he may get pushed off the puck at first but as he grows as a player, he could easily become a top-six forward for the Los Angeles Kings.
HockeysFuture.com Ranking (KINGS ONLY): #5
Viatcheslav "Slava" Voynov is a defenseman who could easily make his way onto the Kings' roster as soon as opening game for the Kings. Voynov only missed four games last season in the AHL and his play was consistent throughout the season. He led the defense in goals, assists and plus-minus, as well as being fourth on the team in points.
Voynov is a very solid player if he keeps his mind on playing defense. He has a knack for often rushing the puck, which causes him to be out of position a lot of the time. If he can fix this, he should be a solid defenseman in an already solid core in Los Angeles.
Position: Right Wing
HockeysFuture.com Ranking (KINGS ONLY): #3
Tyler Toffoli only appeared in one game for the Manchester Monarchs in the 2010-11 season after his stint in the CHL. But he made an impact, which got him his spot on the playoff roster for the Monarchs.
Toffoli is strong player on the puck, but his skating ability is really what holds him back. If he can improve on this, there is no doubt that he could be a possible top-six forward down the road. He has a bit of work to do, but this season there is a very good chance he could see himself on the fourth line for the Kings.