As noted several times here on MayorsManor over the last few seasons, there has been a slow migration around the NHL away from relying so heavily on Canadian junior prospects. Conversely, we’ve seen a substantial increase in American-born players being taken in the first and second rounds of the NHL Draft.
The Kings are right near the top when it comes to U.S. players currently on the team and/or in the pipeline. With the big club, you have Jack Johnson, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis and many others – plus, Jonathan Quick in net.
And the team has a slew of players currently enrolled at major U.S. colleges, including 2010 first round pick Derek Forbort.
Last week, five of the college prospects made some news…
– Forbort was expected to be a major part of Team USA’s defensive core at the World Junior Championship. Instead, he was injured along the boards early in the tournament (believed to be his knee) and didn’t play in the team’s final few games. He returned to the University of North Dakota last week. However, he did not play in either of their games over the weekend. So, we’ll need to monitor the situation going forward.
– Kevin Gravel (fifth round 2010) has been coming on strong. He was named to the above mentioned USA squad and scored the game winning goal for them in their final game vs. Switzerland. The win ended an otherwise disappointing tourney for the Americans, who finished seventh overall.
– Nick Shore (third round 2011), playing for the 16th-ranked Denver Pioneers, scored his fifth goal of the season on Saturday. He also had an assist on Friday night and is riding a four-game points streak. Shore’s 21 points are third best on the team.
– Michael Mersch (fourth round 2011) scored his seventh goal of the year in a 6-3 win over RIT on Friday. He’s tied for third in goals (7) and is fourth in points (16) on the Wisconsin Badgers.
– Joel Lowry (fifth round 2011), a freshman for the ninth-ranked Cornell, scored his third goal of the season Saturday vs. Colorado College. Lowry came out of the gates quickly, scoring two goals in his second NCAA game – a big win at Yale – and hadn’t found the back of the net since.
Looking ahead, there will be lots of Kings prospects squaring off against each other in the next seven weeks…
January 20/21 Forbort (North Dakota) at Gravel (St. Cloud State)
January 27/28 Mersch (Wisconsin) at Forbort (North Dakota)
February 3/4 Gravel (St. Cloud State) at Mersch (Wisconsin)
February 17/18 Shore (Denver) at Mersch (Wisconsin)
February 24/25 Forbort (North Dakota) at Shore (Denver)
Many of those games will be televised. We’ll have time and channel information as the action gets closer. In the meantime, check out some of the previously posted interviews with the Kings college prospects, linked below for your reference.
Nick Shore shares his experience at Team USA summer camp – and talks LA Kings prospects
Interview with Derek Forbort – just prior to 2011 NCAA playoffs