Kings 2009-10 NCAA prospect update

By Josh Deitell

The Kings have only three prospects playing in the NCAA: two forwards and a defenseman. Robert Czarnik started the year with Michigan of the CCHA, but left midseason for Plymouth of the OHL.

Garrett Roe, C – 2/22/1988
5’8", 162 lbs
Junior, St. Cloud Huskies, WCHA
Acquired: 7th round, 183rd overall, 2008

Currently tied with Derek Stepan for seventh overall in WCHA scoring with 29 points in 27 games, Roe is having another impressive season for the St. Cloud Huskies. He’s looking to improve on his 48-point performance in 2008-09, in which he not only led his team in scoring but also finished second in the WCHA in total offensive production. Over his 104 career games with St. Cloud, Roe has put up 122 points, tops among all Huskies over the three-year span.

Similar in physique and playing style to Daniel Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers, Roe depends on quickness in all facets of his game to be successful. He often uses quick, powerful strides to dive into openings in the slot, and is also unafraid to crash the net with intensity. His soft hands allow him to draw defenders toward him while stickhandling and maintaining possession of the puck, leaving his linemates open for passes which he delivers with impressive precision under pressure.

It’s one thing to outmaneuver college players, but most players of Roe’s size struggle to adjust to the increased pace of play at the pro level, as well as the size and intelligence of their opposition. He’ll always be prone to huge hits and getting outmuscled in the corners, but Oscar Moller‘s quick transition to the NHL despite his size speaks volumes about the Kings’ ability to overlook limitations of stature in favor of creativity and drive. Like Moller, Roe will need to show he is able to take big hits and keep playing without missing a beat. His offensive skills and energy could make him a valuable player for an NHL team someday, although he has many obstacles to surpass before he gets to the big show.

Martin Nolet, D – 10/02/1986
6’3", 209 lbs
Senior, UMass-Amherst Minutemen, Hockey East
Acquired: 5th round, 144th overall, 2006

Though Nolet struggled for ice time in his freshman year with the Minutemen, he worked hard on developing his defensive game, and eventually earned a perpetual role, carving out a niche for himself as a sturdy, stay-at-home defender. He’ll never be mistaken for an offensive defenseman with seven points in 26 games, but Nolet has also earned the trust of the coaching staff in moving the puck up ice with a safe first pass. His skating ability is good for his size, especially while moving backwards; as a result, opposing forwards are rarely able to speed by him uncontested.

If Nolet wants to have success at the pro level, he needs to continue to play a physical brand of hockey without sacrificing his defensive zone coverage. Though he has a good hockey IQ by NCAA standards, it remains to be seen whether he can handle the heightened speed and skill of pro forwards, but his dedication to improving his play is one of his biggest assets. With persistence, he could still make his way to the NHL as a bottom-pairing PK defenseman down the line.

Joshua Turnbull, C – 7/12/1988
5’11", 180 lbs
Junior, Wisconsin Badgers, WCHA
Acquired: 5th round, 137th overall, 2007

Once a promising two-way prospect, Turnbull was drafted by the Kings as a fifth rounder after putting up 54 points in 60 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 2006-07 USHL season. However, Turnbull has been unable to translate his game to the NCAA level, and his games played total has been trending downward because of it. Though he suited up for a respectable 37 games in his freshman season, he only saw the ice in 24 last year, a little more than half of the Badgers’ total games. His role has diminished even further this year: Of the 26 games the Badgers have played this year, Turnbull has only suited up for six. Barring a miraculous turnaround, Turnbull’s time as a legitimate prospect is over.