LA Kings Say Goodbye to Pair of Prospects; One on Hold

LaDue-Paul-UND-Kings-prospectWhile it didn’t bring nearly the level of hype as LeBron James’ decision from a few years ago, the wait is finally over – MayorsManor has learned that highly touted defensive prospect Paul LaDue will return to the University of North Dakota for his junior season, rather than turn pro and sign a contract with the L.A. Kings.

Originally selected by the team in the sixth round (181st overall) at the 2012 NHL Draft, LaDue has steadily climbed up the organization’s depth chart. Ranked No. 9 on the most recent edition of the Kings Top 10 Prospects list, the 22-year-old blueliner faced a tough decision following UND’s loss in the NCAA’s Frozen Four semifinals last month. Although only a second year player, the Kings thought highly enough of him to send Asst. General Manager Rob Blake to North Dakota to meet with LaDue, his parents, and the UND coaching staff – an experience Blake spoke with MayorsManor about here.

In the end, the draw to return to school was just too much for the 6-foot-2 defender to overcome. After all, he grew up in Grand Forks and playing at North Dakota was his dream since first lacing up the skates as a toddler. LaDue is not only considered to be a top-pairing defenseman for one of college hockey’s best programs, he is considered by many to be the best overall at his position in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Now, he’ll return for what is expected to be one final season at UND, before turning pro next summer.

That’s not the only Kings prospect news, though. MayorsManor has also learned that the team has no plans to offer a contract to 2013 draft pick Dominik Kubalik. Selected in the seventh round that year, he was playing in the OHL at the time. After two years in North America, ending with a 23-game stint as a member of the Kitchener Rangers following his time with the Sudbury Wolves, the 6-foot-1 forward did not attend Development Camp in Los Angeles last July and he returned to his native Czech Republic to play for a team over there.

At the far opposite end of the spectrum – at least in terms of prospects we get asked about the most – it appears the book on Nikolai Prokhorkin has been closed. For those new to the story, this uber-talented forward first showed up on the radar when the Kings selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. He began the following season in Manchester, but then all hell broke loose a few weeks later. In short, the KHL claimed he was under contract, via a deal he said he never signed. Legal threats went back and forth in a story well-documented here. Then, last summer, he bought his way out of his KHL contract and led the Kings to believe he was bound for North America, only to re-sign with CSKA Moscow. Enough is enough, we’ve been told, as the Kings don’t plan on perusing him any further.

What is the status of Jordan Weal, many of you will ask next. Checking with our sources inside the Kings’ management team, there is a growing appetite for him to make the NHL roster next season. This, of course, is a rather different message than what we were hearing just a few months ago. Many factors are impacting this discussion, not the least of which is his stellar performance in the playoffs, where he currently leads the AHL in scoring with 15 points in 10 games, including 10 goals. This news does come with a twist, as well. Weal could be seen playing wing come October, not playing center for the Kings. Stay tuned.

3 MUST-READ PROSPECT ARTICLES:

AHL: Weal’s Game 4 Hat Trick Has Him Chasing Monarchs History

Blake on Trip to North Dakota, Waiting on LaDue’s Decision

KHL vs. Kings – Update on Prokhorkin Contract Situation

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Comments

  1. Robert Jaffe says:

    Thanks for the info. Is Paul LaDue now able to do what JUSTIN SCHULTZ did to the Ducks and sign with another team as a free agent??

  2. Such a frustrating experience with Prokhorkin. On a Bud Holloway level. It happens I understand. Just has to be difficult for the organization to be drafting correctly and having extenuating circumstances take those prospects away.

    • Crown Royal says:

      Losing a player with Prokhorkin’s natural ability hurts but that’s sometimes the problem with drafting Russian players.

      Losing Holloway is partly connected to Oscar Moller. Moller was rushed to the NHL too soon because the Kings were so devoid of talent at the time. Jack Johnson and Davis Drewiske also fall into that same category. DL did not call up Holloway for even a “cup of coffee” when he excelled in the AHL. He lost faith in Kings organization and fled to Sweden with Moller (playing on the same Swedish team) where he was tremendous the first year. DL kind of blew it with Holloway in that way.

  3. Weal is a better fit as a winger with the Kings, but where? not in the 3 and 4 lines. So that leaves the top 6. Should be interesting

    • Crown Royal says:

      Weal, Shore, DB would make for a speedy and effective third line.
      Hoping Lewis is relegated to fourth line right wing. He is no top-six player and is not good at center or left wing despite what some Kings fans may think.
      Pearson could go to Kopi’s line with MG and King could remain with JC and TP until some of the left wing prospects (Mersch, Zykov, Kempe) are ready. At that point Lewis and one or two other wingers will have to go anyway in order to make room for more talented players.

      • Weal-Shore-DB sounds good but will Darryl buy that? Especially since you got 2 rookies in the same line. I think Weal needs to be in the 1st line with Gabitar! .. Lewis is too valuable to get rid of. He does all the little things Darryl n Lombardi love. He’s here to stay hopefully in the 4 line or 3 Line

        • Crown Royal says:

          Yes, difficult for Sutter to swallow but DB lends experience to that line.

          TL is a decent player but will never be able to help as much as more talented players may be able to do if they develop. He’s no good at center and the Kings will need to cobble together the most talented players possible on the third and fourth lines to help with scoring depth. TL is just a right winger and not effective anywhere else…Depth is a major problem in the “Cap Era.” DL and staff are doing an increasingly better job of drafting and a terrific job of player development. It is essential they don’t get caught up in Sutter’s old time mentality of over-using the veterans at the expense of integrating the younger, more talented, and less expensive drafted and developed players. This is going to be a challenge for DL also as he understandably wants to be loyal to his players. In today’s game you can’t win and keep too many veteran players.. You must find the correct balance about it and that will mean DL fighting Sutter to integrate the younger players into the lineup. Marginal players like TL are replaceable. It’s better to have a goal scorer who can do the same things as TL but add more punch to the line-up offensively. The Kings are developing those players but they have to keep doing and get Sutter to play them.

  4. Weal would seem to be the logical replacement for Williams. The trick will be getting Daryl to buy in. He never seemed to warm to Andreoff even despite Richards and Stoll’s struggles. (And there was that one quote about how some people played their way on the team and others didn’t).

    Any news on the kings trying to deal prospects to get someone to take Richards contract?

  5. Crown Royal says:

    You’re right about Sutter. Maybe he Kings could deal Lewis and a prospect to Buffalo as Jack E. might benefit from playing with Lewis initially and get rid of MR’s contract that way.
    Although I still believe Richards will eventually end up in Toronto.

  6. I think that sort of deal makes sense, though it is a high price to pay, but one we have to face. It will be harder rather than easier to deal Richards as time goes by I’m afraid–unless they can get a medical determination that he is unable to perform due to the concussions (which seems very unlikely). I think the Kings clearly value Lewis as more than just a replaceable 4th line guy. And I agree to an extent. I think part of Lewis’s value comes from his play on the PK. Having a 4th line guy that the coaches feel comfortable with on the PK is valuable in that it disrupts the top 6 less when you have faith in those kinds of guys. If you can finish a PK with forwards from the 3rd and 4th lines it obviously sets you up better right after the PK when the opponents top guys tend to be off the ice briefly, and you can go to one or both of your top lines.

    My concern is that we will have to go through all of this again with Brown in a year or two if Dean isn’t proactive.

    • Crown Royal says:

      DB will be fine through the term of his contract as long as he doesn’t balk at eventually playing third and fourth line minutes. He’s a good skater who still hits and has enough goal scoring ability to contribute in a third or fourth line role. He can kill penalties and can play both wings. Brown is not going to be the problem many Kings fans think he may become.

      Lewis was terrific killing penalties on the 2012 Cup Winner. The Kings PP was sub par during the playoffs that year but the PK was great. However, TL is not a scorer or playmaker. The Kings will need more offense than he’s capable of in the third and fourth lines going forward. He’s been DD’s baby sitter since DL shipped Simmons to Philly (helped get him away from DD who he had been leading astray party-wise) besides facilitating the Richards deal which was a good move at the time. DD is going to have to grow up (maybe he already has) and not rely on TL to be “The goat in his barn.” That’s an old horseracing term, by the way. Goats seemed to keep the thoroughbreds calmer.

      • Im not nearly as optimistic as you are about Brownie. I agree he is a good skater and much of his values comes from the physical part of his game, but he has got to put the puck in the net at that price. I hope I’m wrong, but given the deterioration we’ve seen just the last two years (though this year was much better in terms of overall play) and the natural aging curve with forwards starting to decline at 30, those last 3-4 years contract years could be really ugly (2018-19 through 2021-2022). But even if you’re right, and he is a 3rd line guy, I dont think a competitive team can afford an almost $6m million cap hit for 3rd or 4th line guys without a big cap increase (which I guess could happen hypothetically with increased revenue due to expansion). Especially when we will presumably be paying Anze and Drew market rates.

        LOL I havent heard the goat reference in a long while. I think you are the first person Ive seen come out and call DD on his behavior (on the ice), and I couldn’t agree with you more. His skills are off the charts, but he occasionally shows his immaturity. Its the one thing (well OK along with overuse this year) that I think has been holding him back in my mind.

        • Crown Royal says:

          Yes, you’re right about DB having difficulty living up to his contract stat-wise. I’ve stated before, I believe Lombardi needs to be loyal to DB and JQ over all the other Kings players. In 2012, more than anybody else, those two guys delivered the Cup to L.A. through their play, both right before, and during the playoffs. DB is the captain and that counts for something too. I’m more worried about DL giving a huge (ten million dollar) contract to Kopi who will likely decline stat-wise just as significantly as DB. Can you imagine having to pay Kopi ten million a year if he needs to be demoted to the third or fourth line? He played pretty well this season but not like a ten million dollar center.

          • I agree. I’m also very afraid of Kopi’s contract. I dont know if I think any player is worth $10m (given the size of the current cap) over a long term. But even if Toews or Crosby are, I dont think Kopi is quite in their class. He is one of my very favorite players but if we give him $10m, the second half of that term will almost certainly substantially diminish any chance we have at a Cup given the competitive environment. A best case scenario is probably that he is Joe Thornton. But he is obviously not a $10m player at this stage of his career.

            If we get really lucky, maybe the next CBA that gets negotiated might provides for a penalty free buyout if he declines badly. But that is a long way off and a risky thing to bet on and it would be a ton of cash to eat.

            These salary issues underscore the importance of this draft because the money problems are going to compound very quickly and at least for now we dont have a 1st next year (though Im guessing that moving Slava may eventually bring a good pick(s). I really wish we had locked Pearson up a little longer.

Trackbacks

  1. […] John Hoven, Mayors Manor — Originally selected by the team in the sixth round (181st overall) at the 2012 NHL Draft, LaDue has steadily climbed up the organization’s depth chart. Ranked No. 9 on the… […]

  2. […] combined with Weal’s unbelievable play, he has apparently started to change the discussion. As we first reported last week, there is a growing appetite for moving him from center to wing for next […]

  3. […] North Dakota over the past few days. Following on the heels of MayorsManor breaking the story that defenseman Paul LaDue would be returning to school for his junior season, word came down Monday morning that head coach Dave Hakstol was leaving to […]