The Los Angeles Kings system remains robust in role players, grinders, and two-way defensemen. This has always seemed to be the case. However, the organization is starting to see a nice evolution from a few players within the system. When you have so few high end picks, you have to hope for the growth of the Mersch’s, the Dowd’s, and the Auger’s of the pipeline to come through for you in filling in the gaps. While some of these players are in the very nascent stages of their careers and development paths, they are starting to rise just like the development team had hoped.
The Kings have a fairly large group of CHL representatives this year, many coming out of the 2014 and 2015 NHL Entry drafts. While they have a large numbers of players, they have few upper-round picks representing the team. They also are strictly limited to just two leagues of the CHL: the WHL and the OHL. With eleven players currently playing in the CHL, only two are from the first three rounds of the draft. The Kings are going to need some late rounders to blossom (and they have a few on their way) to really make the best out of a group full of outliers and depth players.
It really can be hard to nail down whether or not the Kings system took a step back or forward over the course of a year. The team has traded away tons of picks and prospects in order to go into a win-now mode. That has significantly lessened the top end prospect quality that the franchise has currently. Moving potentially high level players like Colin Miller (BOS) – and to a lesser degree Roland McKeown (CAR) – has been costly for the system. However, the Kings have continued to thrive and make up a lot of the void in smart player development.
The WHL’s Eastern Conference was the – slightly – more competitive conference last season, and that should ring true again in 2015-16.
Last season in the East it took 73 points to make the playoffs, while in the West three teams qualified with less than 73 points. The East also featured the league-leading Brandon Wheat Kings, who finished the season with 114 points, two more than the Kelowna Rockets. The Wheat Kings may have lost a couple of pivotal 20-year-olds from last year’s team, as well as Ryan Pilon (NYI), who has taken an indefinite leave from hockey, but the team still boasts depth better than any organization, with a wealth of young, up-and-coming stars. The Wheat Kings, in fact, have landed atop the CHL 2015-16 preseason rankings. Read more»
With NHL prospects, we are almost always presented with two major questions: “Can they follow up a strong season?” and “How will they adapt at the next level?” The Los Angeles Kings prospect pool has many rather high profile players falling into one or both of these categories this coming season. Read more»