Kings’ Norris Winning Defenseman Rob Blake has emerged as one of the top players in the NHL ever since he came to the club. Blake as able to step in and contribute right away because he had played and excelled on the collegiate level and his experience paid immediate dividends. The Kings have a few players in the college ranks right now that may give the Kings a boost down the line. Here is a quick rundown:
The most intriguing college prospect is Noah Clarke. The Kings made the diminutive Clarke their ninth round draft pick in 1999. Noah currently plays for Colorado College of the WCHA. Clarke is the highest scoring college prospect for the Kings with 20 points in 23 games (9 goals and 11 assists). Despite being a freshman, Clarke is third on his team in scoring. The reason I am personally pulling for Clarke is that he is a California native, hailing from LaVerne and attending Claremont High School. Clarke is small in stature- he is 5’9: and 175 pounds but has shown some promise. If Jason Blake can play on the NHL level then there is hope for Clarke.
The most highly regarded college prospect is Ohio State Defenseman Jason Crain. Crain’s similarities to Rob Blake are causing some scouting services to call him the steal of last season’s draft. Crain is a big, physical defenseman who is solid on defensive side but it is his offense that has scouts drooling. Crain has exceptional hands, skates well and is known for his physical play. There are not alot of knocks on the sophomore blueliner. His stats to-date are a goal and six assists in 23 games. Crain gives the Kings yet another big solid defenseman. If the Kings are able to pull a major trade in the future it will be because they can deal a young d-man and still have depth with players like Jason Crain.
George Parros is a huge forward who was an eighth round pick in 1999. This 6’4″, 210 pound freshman winger currently has two goals and two assists in 13 games. Parros is a very bright kid- and not just because he is at Princeton. George had a 4.18 GPA in high school. A huge forward who has a good head on his shoulders is worth a late round draft pick. Parros is picked on potential- you can’t teach size.
Matt Yeats is a 6’1″ 180 pound sophomore goalie who plays for the Maine Black Bears. Yeats was drafted by the Kings in the ninth round in 1999. Yeats is having a great season- he is 5-1-2 with an impressive 2.27 GAA in 9 games. There have been alot of success stories in the NHL with college goalies- Garth Snow and Scott Fankhouser come to mind- and good goalies always have a spot in an organization.
Jim Henkel was an eighth round pick in 1998 who is currently at RPI. Henkel is a big (6’2″) centerman which seems like something the Kings always need. Henkel is only a sophomore and is not exactly lighting it up in the ECAC. Henkel has one more goal (1) than I do and that is his only point this season.
Pavel Rosa has been with the big club now for three games and hasn’t done a thing. Rosa needed to shine and really has shown nothing since arriving- 0 points and 1 shot for a -1 rating… Frankie Kaberle has been scratched since Garry Galley’s return… Len Barrie may have worn out his welcome on Thursday against the Stars with some dumb penalties and a breakaway that didn’t even lead to a shot. If the Kings are going to take lumps like that, they are better served to have a youngster with a future at least take the lumps as a learning experience.