With an in-depth scouting report on two more players below, we continue our countdown of the LA Kings Top 10 Prospects. Having already posted an Honorable Mentions article, as well as last week’s look at the five players sitting No. 6 through 10 on our list, we’re now approaching some rarified air.
As a reminder, these bi-annual rankings provide some of the most popular content we produce each year because of the amount of effort that goes into gathering and preparing the evaluations. We’re confident nobody outside the Kings organization talks to more coaches, scouts, and general managers about the team’s top prospects on a regular basis than MayorsManor. The final slotting of players is influenced by hundreds of hours of game action and debating the prospects with a myriad of well-respected hockey people, including our key sources inside the team.
MAYOR’S MANOR 2017 MID-SEASON PROSPECT RANKINGS
5. MIKE AMADIO: Forward, Ontario Reign (3rd round pick, North Bay Battalion, OHL)
For the last several iterations of this list, there has always been a two-way center somewhere near the top. First, it was Nick Shore. Then, it was Nic Dowd. Now, it’s Amadio. The first year pro has become a staple of the Reign roster, as he’s one of only five players to dress for all 39 games thus far. His transition from the OHL to AHL has looked relatively easy, a difficult trick to pull off. While even a cursory review of his stats reveals he’s piled up points in the two and a half years since being drafted, the real strength of his game may always be on the defensive side of the puck. Style wise, it wouldn’t be unfair to compare Amadio to former King Mike Richards. His offense may not be to the level of Richards in his prime, but he’s more than capable of putting points on the board.
To put it bluntly, he plays a simple game and isn’t overly flashy. He’s also the type of player any coach would trust to close out the last minute of a game. Amadio doesn’t give up an inch in the defensive zone, but can turn the puck up ice and create a scoring chance via his tenacity on the puck. Often if there is a loose puck in the area, or a puck he believes he can get, he will not quit until he gets it. Look for Amadio to continue adding size to his frame and further refine his faceoff skills. Neither of these areas should be seen as issue, simply an opportunity. He perfectly fits the mold of a player that Dean Lombardi and his staff love to pieces.
Amadio’s steady progression up our rankings – moving from an Honorable Mention just a little more than one year ago, to now inside the top five – isn’t that surprising when you look at his overall body of work. He capped off his OHL career with a bang, scoring 50 goals for the Battalion last season, adding another 12 during their playoff run. Then, immediately following their post-season exit, Amadio flew to Ontario and made his AHL debut – where his first action came during the Calder Cup Playoffs. In his first 11 pro contests, he scored his first goal and added four assists for five points. During his junior career, Amadio doubled his goal output in each of his OHL seasons and increased his overall point total by an average of more than 25 points. Expectedly, he hasn’t been able to maintain that growth rate at the professional level, yet Amadio continues to display maturity and understanding on the ice. He has seven goals and 12 assists with the Reign, often playing between the second and third lines. Amadio’s development has garnered some special teams ice time, perhaps the next component of his game that will hatch some additional production.
4. KALE CLAGUE: Defenseman, Brandon Wheat Kings (2nd round pick, WHL)
Team speed is a frequent knock on the Kings over the past several years, even going back prior to their first Stanley Cup in 2012. Clague, much like Slava Voynov did while he was patrolling the LA blueline, is a player who can create artificial speed because he gets the puck gets up ice so quickly. He has a high hockey-IQ and is a progression-based puck passer. Like a quarterback in football, he’s able to locate first, second options very quickly. Clague balances out his versatility by having an ability to skate the puck up the ice or out of trouble extremely quickly. This is different than a skating-based transition, where a player skates to open things up. Clague is able to move the puck up ice with his brain and with his feet, but he never defers to his feet. His feet compliment his passing-based game, rather than the other way around.
Before setting expectations too high, Clague has similarities to Voynov, but probably not all of the subtleties. Some scouts have even suggested he may be more similar to Alec Martinez, while we would label him as a blend of the two, falling more in the middle of their two attribute sets. Compared to most of the defensive prospects in the Kings pipeline, Clague is that rare offensive defenseman. His hands, skating, and vision are all high-end skills and combine to make for a lethal weapon on skates. He does play a high-risk, high-reward game at times and there is most definitely some work to do in the defensive zone. Clague had the honor of representing his country at the recent World Junior Championships; where he fared well, scoring six points for Canada in seven games.
He’s holding some tools LA needs right now. Equally as exciting to Kings’ management is the fact he is only 18-years-old. He joins fellow defenseman Jacob Moverare as the only other 2016 draft pick to make our list, and for good reason. After the Brandon Wheat Kings traded up in the first round to choose him as a bantam, Clague has been on a steady course of growth, increasing his games played and point output each of his first two seasons. And in just 32 games this year, Clague has harvested 26 points. As with any young defenseman, rounding out all facets of the game is paramount to his development plan. While he finished with a +25 rating in 71 contests last season, he’s a minus-2 this year. Yes, it’s the WHL, where goals tend to come a dime-a-dozen. However, just a year after finishing +25, nobody is thrilled with that much of a slide in the other direction. Clague’s other major place of potential growth, literally, is with his frame. Listed at a mere 177 lbs. and standing 6-foot tall, he is a bit on the smaller side of today’s NHL average. He is most likely two years away from being considered for a spot in Ontario, where his skill set can be further fine-tuned to fit LA’s game.
In the next article, we’ll creep one step closer to revealing the Kings No. 1 prospect. Has Adrian Kempe held on to the top spot or has somebody else jumped over him?
As always, we would also like to pass along many thanks to the plethora of hockey sources who contribute to this series – from scouts, coaches, and players, to our own staff of contributors, like Andy Tonge and Cody Warner.
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