The Hockey News gives LA Kings prospect pool a C+

This year’s edition of Future Watch, a special publication put out annually by the folks at The Hockey News, brings a mixed bag of information regarding the LA Kings prospect pool. First off, they gave the team an overall grade of C+, which is quite a drop off from the A- rating of last year.

However, a few factors are at play. First, prized forward Brayden Schenn – the number one rated pro prospect in all of hockey last season – was traded away to get Mike Richards. Not having him around would certainly pull the rating down a little bit. Second, some players automatically drop off the prospect depth chart because of age and/or games played in the NHL. So, for example, the loss of Andrei Loktionov from the group also naturally reduced the rating.

Ideally, you’d like to see ‘new’ high-end prospects replace the ones leaving the list on an annual basis. That didn’t happen here though. The Kings had five players in the top-75 overall last year (Schenn 1st, Loktionov 39th, Derek Forbort 49th, Tyler Toffoli 51st and Slava Voynov 54th.

This time around, they only had two players among the leading 75, with Toffoli slotted at #39 and Forbort at #64 – and placing first and second for the Kings.

While THN only ranks the top 75 players overall, they also provide a list of each team’s top 10. Rounding out the group for Los Angeles were the following players (with a brief excerpt from THN’s comments):

3 – Jake Muzzin, defenseman (Manchester Monarchs, AHL) – “His lack of consistency from shift to shift and game to game has led to poor on ice decisions, keeping him from being ready for prime time.”

4 – Kevin Gravel, defenseman (St. Cloud State, NCAA) – “Always seems to be in the right position…skill set is similar to Rob Scuderi’s”

5 – Thomas Hickey, defenseman (Manchester Monarchs, AHL) – “Sees the ice well and both his skating and ability to win one-on-one battles has improved.”

6 – Chris Gibson, goaltender (Chicoutini, QMJHL) – “Athletic goalie, solid positional skills.”

7 – Martin Jones, goaltender (Manchester Monarchs) – “Doesn’t get rattled.”

8 – Nick Shore (Denver, NCAA) – “Two-way forward with high hockey IQ.”

9 – Maxim Kitsyn, left wing (Novokuzmetsk, KHL) – “Skilled power forward.”

10 – Andy Andreoff (Oshawa, OHL) – “He’ll run you over and beat you up.”

Whenever a list like this is created there are always notable exceptions. Here, the obvious question surrounds Jordan Weal of the Regina Pats (WHL). He posted 102 points two years ago, 96 last year and already has 116 this season. However, at 5-foot-8, he continues to get discounted because of his size. For the first time in three years, he’s headed back to the playoffs before turning pro this summer.

The NCAA playoffs are about to begin, with conference tournaments wrapping up this weekend. Junior hockey playoff brackets will be announced in the coming days as well. Nearly all of the above prospects discussed above are headed to the post-season. So, expect lots of coverage on MayorsManor in the days and weeks to come.

To see how we had the prospects ranking coming into the season, click here.

Special thanks to Rhys Holinaty, our Alberta prairies correspondent, for contributing to this article.

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Comments

  1. Hey guys, thought you might be interested in this comment from former Regina Pats play-by-play guy re: Jordan Weal. Doesn’t mean it will translate to the NHL, but still interesting. People in Regina lose their mind over the lack of respect Weal gets from stuff like this and Hockey Canada. http://www.rodpedersen.com/2012/03/friday-rodservations_16.html

    * Had a visit with an NHL scout at Gold’s Gym on Thursday. He had some advice for those of you who are voting on the WHL Player of the Year award. Consider this: yes, Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans leads the league in scoring with 131 points but both his linemates are 100 point guys and are in the top 10 in scoring. Jordan Weal has 116 points but he doesn’t have a teammate in the top 60 scorers! Weal is literally, singlehandedly, rewriting the Regina Pats record book as he’s now 4th in all-time scoring and 3rd in all-time assists and without the North Vancouver product, Regina wouldn’t have a sniff at the playoffs.

    * That NHL scout also agrees Jordan Weal is a better junior than Pats legend Jordan Eberle. We had this discussion on the Sports Cage from the Brandt Centre on Wednesday when I said Weal’s a better junior player. And there’s no bigger Eberle fan than me. Scruffy said Eberle was the better junior. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just a fun debate.

    * And consider for one second if there’s an NHL lockout next year, Jordan Weal could be back for a 20-year old season which will, in all likelihood, make him the highest-scoring Regina Pat ever.

  2. Whodawat says:

    I think the C+ rating is about right. Even though a prospect like Jordan Weal put up great numbers in juniors, I doubt it will translate to NHL success. Like Sutter said, when you’re that small, you better have a dynamic skill set to be successful and I don’t believe Jordan has that.

    Time will tell though….

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