LA Kings 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings: Player No. 7

Over the past two weeks, we’ve given you updates on nearly 20 of the Kings prospects, first moving through the list of Honorable Mentions – which included Mikey Eyssimont, Nikolai Prokhorkin, and Johan Sodergran — before we moved into the Top 10 (featuring Daniel Brickely, Markus Phillips, and Akil Thomas here).

As we get to No. 7, we pause briefly to let some people catch up. This article is the latest in our annual multi-part series, where we pass along key insights on potential future members of the LA Kings NHL roster. If you’re unfamiliar with our rankings, for nearly a decade this content has become a vital source of player information, as nobody outside the Kings organization talks to more coaches, scouts, and General Managers about LA’s top prospects on a regular basis than the team at MayorsManor. Endless hours go into evaluating players in the Kings pipeline and preparing our write-ups. Additionally, the final slotting of players is influenced by hundreds of hours of game action and debating the team’s prospects with a myriad of well-respected hockey people, including our key sources inside the team’s front office.

And with that said, it’s time to give you all the scoop you crave on another key player…

MAYOR’S MANOR 2019 MIDSEASON PROSPECT RANKINGS CONTINUED

7. JONNY BRODZINSKI: Forward, Los Angeles Kings (5th round pick in 2013, OHL)

Reading carefully is going to be important when pouring over this year’s series of prospect articles. Taking information as sound bites will not tell the proper story this time around. In the 2019 Prospect Rankings opening report (see here), we explained why we took the unusual step of removing four players from our list – Mike Amadio, Matt Luff, Austin Wagner, and Sean Walker. Had it not been for an injury during training camp last fall, Brodzinski would have easily been among that group. He came into this season in the best shape of his life – something then-coach John Stevens agreed with at the time.

There was even a universal expectation within Kings management that Brodzinski would be getting more playing time in Los Angeles this year than all four of the previously mentioned group, which should have led to him essentially solidifying his spot on the team next season. Working in hypotheticals can be challenging, though. Sure, if things go as planned, Brodzinski will return from injury soon and graduate from these rankings in a few months. However, because of several ‘ifs’ involved, we left him in the rankings. What may seem like a contradiction to casual readers actually makes perfect sense when you spend time learning about the context in which decisions were made. Know this for sure, Brodzinski is the most NHL-ready prospect the Kings have at the moment.

After spending nearly half of last season with the Kings, and putting up 30 points in another 29 AHL games, all of his development was starting to sync up nicely. Well, until plans took a hard left with about five minutes remaining in a game at Vancouver last September. Brodzinski separated his shoulder after being hit from behind by Canucks defenseman Michael Del Zotto, and in the blink of an eye, all of his off-season preparation was down the drain. To hear him tell it, Brodzinski had put everything into getting ready for the 2018-19 season and the results were starting to show on the ice. Just two nights earlier in the team’s first preseason game and skating on a line with Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo, Brodzinski played just under 15 minutes and led the team in even strength Corsi.

“It’s an absolute tragedy that he got hurt during camp,” one Kings executive said to us earlier this month. “It looked like all the promise was starting to come together. Short sample size, sure; but it looked like it was all coming together in the way everybody had hoped over the past two years. He had turned the corner in development and he had turned the corner in his accountability. As a result, his game looked like it turned the corner. Now, we’ll look for him to pick up where he left off.”

As of this writing, Brodzinski is scheduled to begin a conditioning assignment with AHL Ontario in about a week. He just completed the portion of rehab where he gets to practice with the Kings while wearing a non-contact jersey. On Friday, February 8, he is set to begin the all-important next step – practicing with the Kings under full contact. Provided everything goes as planned, he should see game action with the Reign as early as Friday, February 15.

Upon his eventual return to the NHL, it will be full steam ahead. GM Rob Blake and his staff need to get as good of a look at him as possible. They’re in a crunch to find out exactly what they really have in Brodzinski. Where does he slot in – second line, third line, fourth line? Answering that question really changes everything. If he’s going to give you 10 goals a year or 18 goals a year, that’s a real difference. With a glut of bottom-six prospects as it is, sorting through them is critical heading into the upcoming offseason. And with him becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, that only further complicates an already tricky situation.

Because he’s been out of sight for several months, he’s probably out of most people’s minds. However, don’t sleep on Brodzinski.

He has an NHL shot and release. He’s good on the power play, either up front or on the point. Coaches often say Brodzinski uses the dots in the offensive zone to his advantage. They’ll also tell you the Minnesota native doesn’t get enough credit for his passing ability and play making skill. While his skating has always been questioned, Brodzinski has very good straight line acceleration. He’s a bit faster now, as he’s leaned out – all part of learning how to train like a professional during the offseason. He played heavier than necessary in prior years, likely wanting to be harder to knock off the puck along the walls and in the corners. Considering he’s not overly physical, that added weight was wasted. Several in the organization have commented that the streamlined version will make him more effective and allusive while carrying the puck. Even at 25 years old, the former St. Cloud Husky is similar to most prospects still learning their craft at the NHL level; he still has some work to do in the defensive zone, although he’s significantly improved in this area and has become more reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a coach who has ever spent time with Brodzinski that would disagree with this statement – He has a great attitude and is very coachable.

Selected notes from last year’s rankings:

For his name will need to appear on the Kings scoresheet more consistently to keep his spot long-term. The phrase heard over and over when talking to various members of the Los Angeles management and development groups is, ‘To reach his full potential, and play regularly in the NHl, Jonny Brodzinski needs to be a top-6 forward.’ … True, he’s a pure winger, a pure scorer. However, his four goals in 39 NHL games isn’t exactly what supporters had in mind. Even so, that is a very small sample size and we’ll need at least 50 more games before developing even the slightest bit of concern. There is a chicken-or-egg thing here at play, as well. It wasn’t lost on us when one member of the Kings executive circle recently described, in detail, a play where Brodzinski opened up for a one-timer and the pass was off his front foot – “With Anze Kopitar, it would be right in his wheel house.” … Yet, to get there, he needs to earn his minutes and prove he belongs. That’s quite the conundrum. … The team thinks he’s good along the wall; does the things he’s supposed to do. Some have even noted he makes little patient plays along the wall, ‘similar to what Tyler Toffoli does.’ Brodzinski doesn’t cheat to get offensive opportunities. … The puck naturally comes off his stick like a goal scorer (once again, you’ll often hear Toffoli’s name when scouts are explaining this part of Brodzinski’s game) and he finds ways to beat goalies. Several NHL goalies he’s faced say he has a different release than most forwards.

The amount of work Brodzinski put in during the offseason had already earned him plenty of praise throughout the coaching staff and development team. Add to that the incredible effort he has made over the past few months preparing to come back early from the injury, and Brodzinski’s stock has never been higher.

“We could have used him this season,” said one of our Kings sources. “The NHL-readiness of that type of player would have helped us all year. Coming back from the injury so soon has certainly been impressive. He looks good.”

As noted repeatedly of late, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Kings roster moving forward – which creates a real opportunity for Brodzinski. This could be a make or break chance for him. He’s not going to get lost in the shuffle this time around. He should have a real opportunity to play for the balance of the season. Now it’s up to him to deliver on all of that promise.

RELATED CONTENT:

Rob Blake on Kings’ Signing of Brodzinski, Other Moves

Instagram

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com

Recent Articles

LA Kings 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings: Player No. 3, Plus Notes on Grundstrom and Durzi

With each passing article, we inch closer to announcing the LA Kings No. 1 prospect. In addition to recapping the No. 3 player today, we’ll also be sharing some bonus notes many have asked for over the past few weeks.
This is usually a good time help new readers catch up on what they’ve missed […]

LA Kings 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings: Player No. 4

Mired in a year of transition and with many questions still remaining about what the LA Kings roster may look like over the next two years, it’s been quite some time since the team’s prospects were primed to snag a bevy of jobs at the NHL level. With that in mind, fans will likely be […]

CONTEST: Win a Trio of Autographed LA Kings Mini-Statues

Last month, fans in attendance at the Kings-Lightning game received a free miniaturized replica of the Bob Miller statue that stands outside of Staples Center. This coming Monday, fans taking in the Kings-Capitals game can take home a similar mini-statue of Luc Robitaille. The third and final mini-statue from the set, a Wayne Gretzky version, […]

Major News Items

LA Kings 2019 Midseason Prospect Rankings: Starting at No. 10

Things they are a-changin’ in Los Angeles, and our 2019 Midseason Rankings are a perfect reflection of the current environment. Much of what will unfold in the slotting of players requires a deep explanation and … [Read More...]

More Prospect News

Comments

  1. Hey John. Isn’t Brodrinski a free agent after this season? Do the Kings plan on re-signing him? If so, what could his contract look like? Thanks.

    • John Hoven says:

      He is a UFA this summer. Contract status is all TBD for the reasons laid out in the article.