While drafting and development remain core priorities of the LA Kings at the moment, adding top young talent via free agency will also come into play when the opportunity arrises. Over the past few seasons, GM Rob Blake and staff have used the college UFA route to add guys like Blake Lizote and Alex Iafallo into the mix. Sure, not all signings may bear fruit at the NHL level – see Daniel Brickley and Sheldon Rempal – yet, when looking at the big picture, such signings make sense, as they add potential depth to the organization.
With the college hockey regular season now over and attention turning to the various conference tournaments and next month’s NCAA Frozen Four, let’s take a quick lap around campuses across North America to look at a few free agents the Kings may be interested in this year.
One final note worth mentioning: The Kings are coming up against the NHL contract limit (especially when also considering other players that are expected to be signed soon, i.e. Alex Turcotte and Tyler Madden). Thus, we’re not expecting them to sign more than one college UFA this time around
COLLEGE UFA CANDIDATES (in alphabetical order)
Jack Ahcan – Defenseman, St. Cloud State
The Huskies captain, playing in his senior season. And let’s be honest, what’s a college list connected to the Kings without a St. Cloud player? They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Ahcan is a 22-year-old left-shot defenseman. Standing 5-foot-8, he represented Team USA at the 2017 World Junior Championship. He’s the brother of Roman Ahcan, a teammate of Alex Turcotte at Wisconsin. Scouts say Ahcan is very skilled, makes plays, and competes. However, there is concern he may get pushed around down low at the next level
Jordan Kawaguchi – Center, North Dakota
An alternate captain at UND, he’s a left-handed shooting center from British Columbia. Kawaguchi is also the cousin of Devin Setoguchi. This year, he’s seen a major uptick in his offense output, scoring as many points this season as his first two combined. We would say he has the longest shot of all players listed here of signing with the Kings this season. Kawaguchi is skilled, has great vision and is a good setup man. Concern is whether he can skate well enough at next level.
Alex Limoges – Center, Penn State
Current teammate of Kings prospect Cole Hults at Penn State. He was previously a teammate of Mikey Anderson on the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL during the 2016-17 season. We provided a detailed scouting report on Limoges here around this time last year. The Kings were interested in him then and there’s still some interest.
From last year’s article:
Center/Left Wing, 21 years old, listed at 6-foot-1 … Has nearly doubled his output from last season, moving from 21 points to 41 points – and actually doing it in three fewer games played … Grew up playing hockey in Texas and northern Virginia – including spending time on the U16 Washington Little Caps, where he played with Peter Bondra’s son Nicholas … His father grew up near Montreal and played professional hockey in Europe … Penn State coach on Limoges, “Very smart player who makes a lot of plays in traffic. He is a complete hockey player who is also good on face-offs.” … And one of his Nittany Lion teammates recently told us this, “Alex is a great teammate, works hard. One of the best puck protectors I’ve ever played with/against. He sees the game very well and has great hockey IQ. He really has a knack for always coming out with the puck. We joke around that he always has the puck on a string.”
Connor Mackey – Defenseman, Minnesota State Mankato
An Illinois native, he is in his junior year and may not turn pro for another year. His father, David Mackey, played on the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars, and St. Louis Blues. He recorded the most assists and points by a defenseman in the USHL in 2016-17. Then followed that up by being named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team. Mackey attended Development Camp with the Calgary Flames in 2017 and Buffalo Sabres in 2018. He was also a teammate of Kings prospect Daniel Brickley in 2017-18.
Marc Michaelis – Center / Left Wing, Minnesota State Mankato (pictured above)
From what we’ve gathered, Michaelis is the Kings No. 1 target. They were interested at this time last season before he decided to return for his senior season – and their interest remains high. He’s a left shot from Mannheim, Germany. In addition to serving as the team captain for the past several years, Michaelis has increased his goal and point production every season, even with missing a few weeks earlier this season with an injury. Now 23 years old, he previously represented Germany in the U-20 and U-18 World Juniors. Any thought of a pro contract will still be several weeks away, as the Mavericks are one of the top college team’s in the country and could be playing playoff hockey well into early April.
Colton Poolman – Defenseman, North Dakota University
Left-handed shot, from East Grand Forks, MN. He’s 6-foot-1 and the returning captain of at North Dakota. Notice a pattern here? Current Kings prospect Michael Eyssimont was his USHL teammate on the Fargo Force during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. He’s extremely competitive, a great leader, defends well, yet offense at next level isn’t going to be his forte. He projects as a more defensive guy. Although several Kings scouts have been into UND for games lately, we’d be a bit surprised if Poolman signs in LA.
Alec Rauhauser – Defenseman, Bowling Green University
Standing 6-foot-3 at 215 lbs, he’s the current captain at Bowling Green (Rob Blake’s alum). Rauhauser was named to the 2016-17 WCHA All-Rookie Team and the 2017-18 WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. He was also teammates with Sean Walker during his freshman season. His skating was noted as one of the concerns coming out of his time at Kings Development Camp in the summer of 2018. How much he has improved in that area over the past two years will play a part in any decision regarding offering him a contract.
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