Photo: Goaltender Chris Gibson fields questions with the media shortly after be selected by the Los Angeles Kings 49th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Gibson is part of a large group of very talented young goaltenders in the Kings system. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Over the past year, the Los Angeles Kings
shifted their philosophy from stockpiling young talent to selling it off for reliable roster players. Heading into the playoffs, the eighth-seeded Kings had bet the farm on what appeared to be a losing proposition. They entered the post-season as a bottom seed whose first pick in the 2012 draft was at 121. That changed, however, as they completed an improbable run to a Stanley Cup championship, which also will likely result in the Columbus Blue Jackets
exercising the option to take their 2013 pick. The Kings will now have the final selection in this year's first round as well as six late picks, which they have invested wisely with in recent years.
Photo: Recalled from the AHL mid-way through the regular season, winger Jordan Nolan has brought a solidifying presence to the Kings bottom six. (Will Schneekloth/Icon SMI)
Not long ago, Jordan Nolan was at an impasse in his hockey career. Today, he finds himself competing for the greatest trophy in all of sport.
Sniper Chris Kreider recently joined the Rangers for their extended 2012 playoff run. Kreider has been one of the Rangers top prospects since he was drafted in in 2009. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle third of Hockey's Future NHL Organizational rankings as voted by the Hockey's Future staff. To determine the ranking, each team's entire prospect pool was taken into consideration. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.
Photo: Defenseman Derek Forbort is one of the few high draft picks representing the Kings at the collegiate level. (Photo courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
The Kings' farm system has been thinned rapidly via graduations, trades, and a shift from stockpiling to readily dealing draft picks and assets. Their holdings at the collegiate level are somewhat limited, although they include a pair of the organization's more promising prospects. Overseas, they have just two players, one of whom may be extremely unlikely to return to the organization. Still, the Kings have plucked some outstanding players recently from both talent pools, such as European trained Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov as well as former collegian Jonathan Quick.
Michael Mersch, LW, Wisconsin Badgers (WCHA)
Drafted 4th round, 110th overall, 2011
Photo: After missing parts of the last two seasons to major surgeries, Andrei Loktonov has managed to remain relatively injury free for 2011-12. Loktionov will however need to gain greater upper-body strength to carve out a regular role in the NHL. (Photo courtesy of Chris Williams/Icon SMI)
While the Kings are still among the youngest rosters at the NHL level, a shift in their organizational outlook has caused their prospect system to go from top-ranked to also-ran in short order. Still, the Kings have a strong identity throughout their organization and as many talented players as most NHL organizations, headed by some of players who have already spent some quality time at the top level.