Photo: The Los Angeles Kings 15th overall pick in 2011, Derek Forbort signed a pro contract in April and finished the season in AHL Manchester (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
After 2012 saw a first ever Stanley Cup for the Los Angeles Kings franchise, 2013 brought forth a noble defense of the title but elimination in the Conference Finals by the Chicago Blackhawks. In what is considered the most difficult of tasks, the Kings came just three wins from reaching a second consecutive final and a chance at repeating as champions.
Photo: Martin Jones won his last six starts of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth for the Monarchs, but not even his strong play could help the team overcome the Springfield Falcons in the first round of the AHL playoffs (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
The prospect pool of the Los Angeles Kings saw varying amounts of playoff game time this year, but one of the more important points is that the majority of them did in fact see the postseason. Over twenty-five skaters for the Kings saw playoff action across multiple levels.
Photo: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
Photo: Rookie winger Tanner Pearson has done a lot of the dirty work for the Manchester Monarchs’ top line in 2012-13 (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
While some teams thrive in the development of one position or another, the Los Angeles Kings have had players of all shapes, sizes, positions, and styles put up noteworthy seasons this year that deserve recognition. While the prospect pool has waned in recent times with promotions, trades, and general roster transactions and development, the team still has a wide range of talent in multiple positions. All the way from the two-way grinding forward, to the pure sniper, to the gritty and physical defenseman, the Kings have seen a number of talented draft picks put up superb seasons in 2012-13 in very different ways.
Photo: Defenseman Kevin Gravel has grown into his role on the shutdown defensive pairing for St. Cloud State, which will take the ice against Quinnipiac in the late semi-final game (courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Junior defenseman Kevin Gravel (LAK) has been a pillar of strength on St. Cloud State’s blueline, logging upwards of 25 minutes per game and facing some of the best opposing players in NCAA hockey. He has played in all 41 games to date, posting 11 points (one goal, 10 assists).