Kings 2008-09 NCAA prospects update

By David A. Rainer

Once a fertile training ground for Los Angeles Kings prospects, the rinks of college hockey have been allowed to lie fallow.  Few selections have come from college hockey in recent drafts for the Kings.  Of five prospects still remaining in college hockey, only three were drafted by current General Manager Dean Lombardi.  None stand out as expected top prospects with only Garrett Roe having an above average chance of being an offensive force at the next level.

Roe is in his second season with the St. Cloud State Huskies and is second in the NCAA in scoring with 36 points, which is also tops for all sophomores.  He has proven to be a dynamic offensive player, scoring points in bunches.  As diminutive as he is, standing at only 5’9, Roe will need to develop his offensive game that much more as speed and elusiveness will help him excel at the next level.  What Roe may lack in size he makes up for in heart.  If Justin Azevedo has demonstrated anything for the Los Angeles organization, it is that smallish offensive forwards can produce at the next level if they carry enough competitiveness with them.  Roe might still have another two years of college hockey eligibility left, but he is already gaining early attention for a spot as a Hobey Baker finalist.

The second of Lombardi’s current college prospect selections is Robert Czarnik. He has endured a relatively quiet season adjusting to the move from the USNDTP to the NCAA.  Where many freshmen in college hockey are as old as 20 years of age, Czarnik is a “true” freshman at the age of 18 for the Michigan Wolverines.  With only a single goal to date, he is paying his dues on the third and fourth lines for the Wolverine, concentrating on playing solid defense first.  At such a young age playing for a program as prestigious as Michigan, Czarnik must learn to walk before running and likely will not begin to make a name for himself until at least his junior season.  For now, Czarnik must be content to finish out the season keeping the opposition off the scoreboard rather than lighting up the scoreboard himself.

Rounding out the three Lombardi draftees is Martin Nolet of the University of Massachusetts.  The report for Nolet has not changed much over the three years he has been playing college hockey – a solid and physical defensive defenseman.  Nolet has been the top left defenseman for the Minutemen all season and is expected to be back next season for his final year of eligibility.  The Minutemen are not likely headed for the NCAA tournament.  Nolet will finish out the season gaining more experience as a top defenseman in hopes that next season will turn the fortunes of the team around.

Josh Meyers may find himself in Manchester of the AHL as early as this year.  In his last year of college hockey and showing a propensity to get the puck on net during the power play, Meyers may play his way into a tryout contract with Manchester at the conclusion of the Minnesota-Duluth season.  Every year, Meyers has always excelled on the power play with his low and strong shot and could be a valuable component to a playoff run by Manchester who is currently struggling mightily in that aspect.  Meyers is behind a number of other more offensive and more well-rounded defensive prospects on the depth chart and is a long-shot to ever skate with the Kings.

Selected as a project by then general manager Dave Taylor, Joshua Turnbull has not shown much in his second season with the Wisconsin Badgers.  With only six points in 21 games, he has stepped back in his production from his freshman season with little chance of getting off the fourth line.  And with nearly all of the Badgers forwards returning next season, the prospects for better ice time does not look good.  Turnbull must earn his time by showing more development or he may not make it out of college hockey.  He still has two more seasons to improve and catch the attention of the Los Angeles brass.