LA Kings Prospects – early season progress reports

The following article is part of a continuing series this season, where MayorsManor correspondent David Hofreiter provides commentary on prospects playing in the Canadian-based major junior leagues and US-based college hockey programs. He’ll usually spend time tracking a player, then offer some opinions and observations based on a single game or multiple games, depending on the points being presented. This week, however, he provides progress reports on a plethora of talent in the Kings’ pipeline.

Although most of the Kings top prospects are in the AHL this year, they still have a good number of prospects playing in other leagues throughout North America and overseas.  It’s still early in the season, yet let’s take a peek into how things are shaping up thus far…

EUROPE

Forward Nikolai Prokhorkin, Moscow CSKA (KHL) – He has moved up his team’s depth chart since being profiled in our ‘Prospect Watch’ series about a month ago (article here), where he was playing on the third line.  Following an injury to teammate Alexander Radulov he’s seen more time on the top line.  Prokhorkin currently leads the team in scoring; not bad for a 20 year-old playing in a men’s league.  Last week, the General Manager of Moscow, former NHL great Sergei Fedorov, announced he was coming out of retirement at the spry age of 43 to lace up the skates again.  Don’t look for Kings GM Dean Lombardi to pull a similar stunt any time soon.

Stats: 21 games played, 13 points (9G, 4A), minus-1 rating and 21 penalty minutes (PIM)

Check out some recent action involving Prokhorkin…

He also had a fight, sort of…

Forward Tomas Hyka, Färjestad (SHL) – A 5-foot-11 winger from the Czech Republic, Hyka opted to play in the Swedish Hockey League this season instead of spending another junior year in the QMJHL.  Lombardi has long been on the record about his feelings regarding other players (i.e. Bud Holloway, Oscar Moller, etc.) going overseas.  Will playing on international ice slow down Hyka’s transition to the North American game, if he chooses to come back?  Either way, the kid is currently tied for third on his team in scoring.

Stats: 15 games played, seven points (2G, 5A), minus-3 rating, six PIM

QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE (QMJHL)

Forward Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau Drakkar – In contrast to the Hyka comment above, Zykov returned to the Quebec league this year.  In a recent ‘Prospect Watch’ report, we noted how the bulky forward plays a predominantly instinctual game.  Currently fourth in team scoring, the young Russian is looking for more opportunities to develop his overall game.

Stats: 15 games played, 17 points (8G, 9A), plus-13 rating, 20 PIM

WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE – WHL

Goaltender Patrik Bartosak, Red Deer Rebels – The competitive netminder needs to work on his conditioning, as mentioned here.  His endurance has been put to the test thus far, as he’s played in 11 of the Rebels’ 13 games.  While a 6-7 record wouldn’t suggest he’s setting the world on fire, Bartosak has averaged nearly 33 saves per game - which leads all WHL goalies with at least ten games played.

Stats: 5-6-0 record, 3.06 goals against average, .916 save percentage

ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE (OHL)

Froward Justin Auger, Guelph Storm – He’s been sidelined with mononucleosis since the first game of the season, so the 6-foot-7 winger has had limited opportunities to play.  His sense of humor is still intact though, as he thumbed out this tweet a few weeks back…

Stats: one game played, zero points, minus-2 rating, nine PIM

Defenseman Zac Leslie, Guelph Storm – Auger’s teammate and fellow draftee from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Leslie has seen a lot more action thus far this season.  But, he too, has been out for the past two weeks due to an upper body injury. As recently as Friday he was still wearing a sling.  Despite missing time, he’s still tied for third in scoring on the team amongst defensemen. 

Stats: 10 games planed, nine points (2G, 7A), plus-11 rating, 17 PIM

Defenseman Kurtis Macdermid, Owen Sound Attack – The mobile defenseman keeps the opponents on their collective toes with his combination of scoring and toughness.  He’s generally a defensive defenseman, but has been contributing a fair share offensively.  On the team, he’s tied for ninth overall in scoring and tied for the lead amongst defensemen.  He is also tied for seventh overall in the entire league with 32 penalty minutes.  Keep your head up when on the ice against him!

Stats: 13 games played, seven points (2G,5A), even rating, 32 PIM

Forward Dominik Kubalik, Sudbury Wolves – The highly skilled two-way forward had a spectacular game, detailed recently in one of our recent  ‘Prospect Watch’ articles (see here). While he hasn’t had any similar performances to date, Kubalik is still producing at nearly a point-per-game clip while getting second-line minutes.  For a player who just turned 18 two months ago, that’s a pretty good grab in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL draft, 191st overall.

Stats: 14 games played, 12 points (9G, 3A), plus-5 rating, 17 PIM

Kubalik pots a goal following a beautiful assist from his teammate…

Defenseman Nick Ebert, Windsor Spitfires – Another seventh rounder (albeit from the 2012 draft) has had some ups and downs.  He participated in the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp, and was in the last group of cuts for an opportunity to represent his country.  He’s now backing the blueline of the Spitfires, who sit squarely in the middle of the OHL’s Western Conference.  Although known for his big shot from the point, he tends to be more of a puck carrier than a puck mover.  Ebert currently sits fourth amongst defensemen on his team in scoring.

Stats: 14 games played, eight points (3G, 5A), plus-5, 12 PIM

NCAA

Forward Hudson Fasching, Minnesota – Selected by LA at the 2013 NHL Draft, Fasching completed the U.S. National Training Camp. and looks to be a strong candidate for the World Junior team that will be announced in December.  Although he had a down draft year and missed the Kings Development Camp to attend summer school, he’s had a hot start for Minnesota (currently the top ranked college team in the country).  A true freshman, the 6-foot-2 forward is tied for second in team scoring, as the Golden Gophers have started the season 5-0-1.

Stats: six games played, eight points (3G, 5A), plus-10 rating, two PIM

He probably just needs to work on his goal celebrations a little…

Forward Michael Mersch, Wisconsin – Mersch begins his senior year pretty much where his junior season ended - leading the Badgers in goals.  All three of his markers thus far have been on the powerplay.  The team’s overall performance is otherwise average with a 2-2 record.

Stats: four games played, five points (3G, 2A), minus-2 rating, two PIM

Defenseman Paul Ladue, North Dakota – Taken at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Ladue stayed one more season in the USHL before moving on to the NCAA this year.  The defenseman now finds himself making adjustments to a new league, as he’s had minimal impact on the scoresheet.  UND is ranked fifth and is a perennial playoff team.

Stats: four games played, one point (0G, 1A), minus-1 rating, zero PIM

Defenseman Kevin Gravel, St. Cloud State – Coming off a run to the NCAA Championship game last season, Gravel is playing his final year of collegiate hockey before turning pro next summer.  He already has a goal in his first two games, after only scoring three in the 115 games prior to this season.  While not counted on for scoring, the rugged defender will be expected to provide leadership to the ninth-ranked Huskies, as evidenced by his co-captaincy role this year.

Stats: four games played, two points (1G, 1A), plus-2 rating, zero PIM

Forward Nic Dowd, St. Cloud State – A player who has embraced his leading role with the Huskies, Dowd already has four points while pacing the team to a 3-0-1 record thus far.  Like his roommate Gravel, this too is Dowd’s final year of college hockey.  Seemingly destined to be linked for the foreseeable future, he also shares the co-captaincy with his good friend.

Stats: four games played, four points (3G, 1A), minus-1 rating, 2 PIM

Forward Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State – A player to whom Dowd will most likely be passing the torch to over the next six months, Brodzinski was drafted by the Kings in the fifth round two summers ago (148th overall).  The 6-foot sniper, who led the team with 22 goals last season, has added a few more assists to his repertoire this time around.  If he continues to round out his game, he could develop into a lethal forward for Lombardi and crew.  It’s worth noting, Brodzinski was in a car accident on October 21st, but wasn’t injured (see tweet below). Guess his bumps and bruises were quickly healed, as he scored his first goal of the season just a few days later.

Stats: four games played, four points (1G, 3A), plus-1 rating, 6 PIM

Forward Joel Lowry, Cornell – The speedy winger played his first games of the regular season with Cornell this past weekend, and he has started the 2013-14 campaign off with a bang.  Lowry potted a goal and an assist in each game, while also amassing 17 penalty minutes.  As one of the many junior classmen on his team, he’s certainly stepped up to lead the team early.

Stats: two games played, four points (2G, 2A), minus-1 rating, 17 PIM

To see where some of the players rank on the Kings’ overall depth chart, click here to see the 2013 pre-season list of the team’s Top 10 prospects.

RELATED CONTENT: 2013 DevCamp Preview: Seven questions with Nick Ebert

2013 DevCamp Preview: Seven questions with Zac Leslie

Pre-camp questions with Kevin Gravel

Getting to know Nic Dowd - he opens up with some great stories

Jonny Brodzinski has tales to tell

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