A Look At 10 King’s Prospects

By Michael Harbison

Los Angeles Kings 2001-2002
Prospect Previews

1. Alexander Frolov -LW-
2001-2002 Team: Yaroslavl (Rus. Super League)

Alexander will make the jump from the Russian
Upper League to Russia’s top
professional league, the Russian Super League. Frolov,
will definitely go through a bit of
an adjustment from the Upper League to the Super
League, but NHL scouts and the
Kings love his consistent goal-scoring over the past
couple of seasons and believe he can
carry it over to the Super League. The two parties
could not agree on a contract before
the July deadline so Frolov will not be in camp and
will not have a chance to make the
team. Frolov just needs to stay consistent and show
that he can play with the best in
Russia. A solid season in the RSL and a solid
performance at the WJC’s for Frolov could
mean a nice contract and a good shot at making the
club in 2003.

2. Yannick Lehoux -C-
2000-2001 Team: Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) – 70GP- 67G-
68A- 135 Pts
2001-2002 Team(s): Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) or Los
Angeles (NHL)

Yannick Lehoux took the QMJHL by storm, and opened
many eyes within the Kings
organization last season. The 2000 3rd round draft
pick lit the lamp 67 times in 70 games
last year as an 18 year old. Despite being only 19
years old entering training camp the
Kings will give Lehoux at least a chance to win a job
this season. Yannick will most likely
lose out in a numbers game and be returned to the
QMJHL but another year of junior
should help Lehoux improve his defensive game. A
strong performance in the CHA
Summer camp and a lack of older centers should
guarantee Lehoux a spot on the
Canadian WJC team if he fails to make the Kings. The
Kings would like too see Yannick
improve in his overall game and gain another 10 lb. of
muscle before the 2003 season
starts.

3. Jens Karlsson -RW-
2000-2001 Teams: Frolunda (SEL) – 19GP- 2G- 0A-
2pts
Frolunda (JR.) -16GP- 8G- 8A- 16pts
2001-2002 Team: Frolunda (SEL)

Jens Karlsson, the teams #1 pick (18th overall)
in the 2001 Draft will look to bounce
back and establish himself in the Swedish Elite League
following a disappointing rookie
campaign last season. Karlsson who at the beginning of
last year was projected to be a
Top 10 pick struggled for Frolunda’s top squad and
saw some time in the 2nd division
and the Junior league. Many observers thought the
Kings reached in taking the power
forward who scouts thought was going to fall out of
the 1st round.

Jens is a project so
don’t expect to see him on Staples Center ice for at
least 2-3 years, he needs to work on
his hockey sense, in particular how to control his
temper and how to use his enormous
skills. Karlsson has already been named to the Swedish
World Junior team and will be
relied upon to produce offensively and be a physical
presence.

4. Jared Aulin -C-
2000-2001 Team: Kamloops (WHL)- 70GP- 31G- 77A-
108pts
2001-2002 Team: Kamloops (WHL)

The Kings are cautiously optimistic about the 19
year old they acquired in the Rob
Blake trade. Jared had a breakthrough season last year
for the Blazers and he established
himself as one of the top playmakers in the WHL. Aulin
who was practicing with the
Kings during their playoff run last spring will get a
good look in camp, but will almost
certainly be back in Kamloops to join a potentially
potent Blazers team. Jared was also
invited to the CHA’s Summer camp in preparation for
the WJC, his WJC chances will
likely depend on how many of the eligible forwards
make their NHL clubs.

Jared like
many other talented offensive players his age doesn’t
play two-way Hockey. The Kings
would like Aulin to improve in this part of his game
plus other little things like face-offs
and playing more physical. You will probably see Jared
up for spot duty with the Kings
sometime in the 2002-2003 season.

5. Dave Steckel – C-
2000-2001 Team: Ohio St. (NCAA)- 33G- 17G- 18A- 35pts
2001-2002 Team: Ohio St. (NCAA)

The 6’5 190 lb. Steckel returns to the Buckeyes
for his sophomore season in
2001-2002. Dave did the opposite of Jens Karlsson and
rose all the way up to the 1st
round of the draft last year. Scouts who went to see
Ohio St. Blue-chip prospect R.J.
Umberger started to take notice of Steckel. Dave is a
major project for the Kings and his
skating is still a major concern, but his size and raw
skills make him an intriguing prospect,
Ohio St. Head Coach John Markell probably put it best,
“You’ve only seen the tip of the
iceberg as far as what Dave is capable of.”

Dave was
a veteran of last years United States WJC
team will be back again this season and will likely
play a bigger role for Team USA. The
Kings will look for Dave to continue improving his
skating and definitely try and bulk up
that 6’5 frame. Dave will probably finish his 4 years
at Ohio St. and turn pro in 3 years.

6. Mike Cammalleri -C-
2000-2001 Team: Michigan (NCAA)- 42GP- 29G- 32A-
61Pts
2001-2002 Team: Michigan (NCAA)

Cammalleri heads back to Red Berenson’s Michigan
Wolverines for his Junior year at
the grand old age of 19. Cammalleri the native of
Richmond Hill, Ont. graduated
highschool at age 16 so that he could play for the
Wolverines as a Freshman at age 17.
Cammalleri had a stellar 2001 season, leading the
Conference in goals with 29 and
finishing 2nd on the team in scoring with 61 Pts (Andy
Hilbert 64 Pts). The talented pivot
also shined for Canada at the WJC’s, finishing tied
with Jason Spezza for 2nd on the team
in scoring.

Major size concerns are holding
Cammalleri back from a potential NHL
career, at 5’9 180lbs Cammalleri is going to struggle
against bigger NHL competition,
and if he does make it, he will likely be switched to
the wing. Cammalleri is definitely the
Kings boom or bust prospect in the system, much like
Justin Papineau was 2 years ago.
Size cannot be taught so the Kings would like
Cammalleri to continue to score a lot this
year while assuming a leadership role for the
Wolverines and the National Junior Team.

7. Joe Rullier -D-
2000-2001 Team: Lowell (AHL)- 63GP – 1G- 1A- 2Pts
2000-2001 Team: Manchester (AHL)

Rullier’s 1st professional season was an up and
down experience. The 6’4 205 pounder
out of Montreal took a lot of time to adjust to the
pro game. The Kings even for a time
thought about sending Rullier to the Czech Rep. to
play for Sparta Praha of the Czech
Extra League, a team owned by Kings owner Phillip
Anschutz. Rullier stayed and
gradually started to improve for the Lock Monsters.

Rullier is never going to be an
offensive defenseman, making the smart defensive play
and a nice first pass are what his
game is all about. Rullier will get a look in camp and
will play in some exhibition games,
but he is a good 2 years away from being NHL ready.
Rullier needs to continue perfecting
his trade for the Monarch’s, doing the little things
that 5 and 6 defenseman do in the NHL
and he should someday be a 3rd pairing defenseman.

8. Alexei Volkov -G-
2000-2001 Teams: New Orleans (ECHL)- 12-9-5- 3.08
GAA- 91.0 save%
Lowell (AHL) – 1-1-0- 4.75 GAA- 82.5 save%
2001-2002 Team: Manchester (AHL)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. 98-99 was a dream
season for Alexei Volkov, he was
drafted into the NHL in the 3rd round by the Kings.
Volkov was outstanding his first year
in North America. Posting a 25-9-3 record, 2.72 GAA
and league best 91.5 save% for the
Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Volkov was also
between the pipes for the Russian’s
as they claimed the gold at the 1999 WJC’s in
Winnipeg. A little over two years later and
Volkov has fallen apart, after losing his starting job
in Halifax in 99-2000 to 17 year old
Pascal Leclaire, Volkov showed up to Kings camp in
terrible shape and looked horrible in
net. After an atrocious start with Lowell of the AHL
in which Alexei posted a pathetic
82.5 save%, the Kings sent him down to New Orleans of
the ECHL.

Things turned around
for Alexei in the ECHL, but lets be realistic, it is
the ECHL, its not where he should be at
this point. The Kings again will start Volkov in the
AHL, most likely splitting time with
AHL veteran Travis Scott. Despite being only 21, this
might be it for Volkov, at least
with the Kings. If he again flops in the AHL the team
will almost surely draft a goaltender
in either the 1st or 2nd round in 2002, knocking the
Russian netminder even farther down
the depth chart.

9. Richard Seeley -D-
2000-2001 Teams: Lowell (AHL)- 55GP- 2G- 8A- 10pts
Trenton (ECHL)- 9GP- 0G- 2A- 2pts
2001-2002 Team: Manchester (AHL)

Seeley has matured a lot in the last couple of years
and will be looked upon as a leader on
the blueline for Manchester next season despite being
only 22 years old. Seeley has NHL
size at 6’3 217lbs and is very good at clearing the
front of his crease with his great
strength. Seeley should look to current King Aaron
Miller as someone he should model his
career after. Miller played 4 years of college and
was in the Nordiques minor league
system for 3 seasons before finally becoming a regular
with the Avs. This season Seeley
needs to work on his all-around game and cut back on
the mental mistakes that have killed
him in past training camps with the Kings.

10. Andrei Shefer – LW-
2000-2001 Team: SKA St. Petersburg (RSL)- 11GP- 1G- 6A- 7Pts
2001-2002 Team: Unknown

I don’t even know why I still have Shefer in my Top 10
Kings Prospects. Its very hard to
do a write-up on a guy that has pretty much
disappeared off the face of the Earth. The
Kings never mention him anymore and its unknown at
this point where he will play next
year, his team SKA was the worst team in Russia and
has been relegated from the Russian
Super League to Upper League, and no idea if Shefer
will transfer clubs or play in the
Upper League.

Its all pretty much been down hill for
Andrei since he was drafted, he came
to North America for the 99-2000 season and joined
fellow Russian Kings prospect Alexei
Volkov on the Halifax Mooseheads. The Mooseheads took
special care of Shefer and his
girlfriend even renting them their own apartment.
Andrei proved to be a soft perimeter
player on the ice, and moody off the ice. He angered
both the Kings and the Mooseheads
when he bolted back to Russia and signed a big $$ deal
with SKA. You can’t right him off
since he is a very talented 20 year old, but you got
to wonder how dedicated he is too
playing in the NHL.

In my Next Report…Previews for Mike Pudlick, Joe
Corvo, Craig Olynick, Jason Crain,
Tim Eriksson, Tuuka Mantyla and more!