After a great run from 2012-2014, the Los Angeles Kings have struggled to find success, so with this, they’ve brought in plenty of young talent to solidify their future. Players like Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty obviously won’t last much longer in the league, so do the Kings have the prospect pool to replace their aging stars?
Alex Turcotte, C
With the 5th overall selection of the 2019 Draft, the Kings selected center Alex Turcotte from the USNTDP. Turcotte put up 53 points in 30 games last season, which is very good, but he’s even more crucial on defense. He was easily the best two-way player in this draft class, and being compared to someone like Jonathan Toews isn’t something to take lightly.
Turcotte is an incredible player, who uses his intelligence, speed, and explosiveness to be a very dynamic centerpiece on offense. The 5’11” center will easily slot into the Kings’ forward core as soon as the end of this upcoming season, and going into next season. It will be very helpful for his development playing behind the likeness of Anze Kopitar. Turcotte loves being involved in play, and will move around fluently to get on the puck or get his opponents off the puck as soon as possible.
PROJECTION: First Line Center
Rasmus Kupari, C
Taken at number 20 in the 2018 NHL Draft was Rasmus Kupari. The Finnish center has had two stints for Karpat in the Liiga, most notably last season, where he put up 33 points in 43 games. Kupari is, like Turcotte, a very dynamic player on the ice, and is an incredible playmaking forward. A 22.24 Inv% is great for a young player playing in a men’s league. Kupari has the vision and playmaking prowse of an NHL center, but leaves some questions defensively.
He isn’t bad at defense by any means, and is still only 19 years old, so he still has plenty of time before he hits his ceiling. Kupari will be playing in the AHL for this season, and this should be a true way to see him develop against North American competition.
PROJECTION: Second Line Center
Gabriel Vilardi, C
With the 11th pick in the 2017 Draft, LA selected another center, Gabriel Vilardi. The 6’3” forward put up 157 points in 143 OHL games between the Windsor Spitfires and the Kingston Frontenacs. Vilardi is another great two-way center in the Kings’ prospect pool who has the mentality of an NHL ready player. He uses his size and skating ability to skate through defenses and leave them having to guess what he will do next.
The Kings have a knack for drafting dynamic centers, and Vilardi is another one of those. The one major downside with Vilardi is his health. After a year plagued with injuries last season, Vilardi is out indefinitely with a back injury. If he can get past these injuries and remain healthy for longer periods of time, there’s no doubt he will be a very impactful for the Kings.
PROJECTION: Second Line Center
Kale Clague, D
Finally, the first non-center of this prospect report. With the 51st overall section in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Kings took defenseman Kale Clague, out of the Brandon Wheat Knights of the WHL. Clague shockingly fell to the 2nd round, and it was a great selection by Los Angeles. Clague is the definition of an offensive defenseman, and puts up some good numbers to defend that claim.
Last season for the Ontario Reign, he put up 29 points in 52 games with a 15.18 ESPInv%. He is an incredibly quick skater and finds it easy to control the pace of the game and spot passes at a very high rate. Clague has all the skill sets needed to become a true force from the blueline in the future.
PROJECTION: #3 Defenseman
Samuel Fagemo, W
With the 50th pick in the 2019 Draft, the Kings took Swedish winger, Samuel Fagemo from Frolunda HC in the SHL. Fagemo put up 25 points in 42 games last season for the Swedish side and is a very creative winger. He has a great shot and produces most noticeably when driving play down the ice.
He is a great stick handler and uses his vision and skating ability to move the puck around and find the most dangerous areas on the ice. Fagemo’s major downside is his lack of defensive awareness and makes mistakes on his own half of the ice. Again I will preface that he is still only 19 and has plenty of time to work out any kinks in his game, and looks to have another good season in the SHL next year.
PROJECTION: Second/Third Line Scoring Forward
Other Notable Prospects:
Jaret Andserson-Dolan, C
Akil Thomas, C
Bulat Shifuglian, W
Tobias Bjornfot, D
Aidan Dudas, C