Photo: The fourth overall pick in 2007, defenseman Thomas Hickey is still trying to find his game in the AHL as part of the Manchester Monarchs' blue line corps. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
The Los Angeles Kings minor league affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, is absolutely packed and brimming with talent of all shapes and sizes. Through recent drafting and promotion of junior level prospects, the Monarchs have filled their lines and pairings with a wealth of two-way talent, defensive talent, goal-scorers, and grinders.
Photo: Czech Republic forward and Los Angeles Kings prospect Tomas Hyka (#27), shown here playing at the 2012 WJC, is playing in his second U-20 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
If one were looking for an upset from the first three days of the 2013 World Junior Championship, probably the closest example came on Day 3 of the tournament with the Czech Republic's 3-1 win over Finland.
Photo: Though the Columbus Blue Jackets added several important prospects this past off-season, none were more prominent than defenseman Ryan Murray, who was selected second overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Below is the bottom third of the NHL Team Rankings in terms of prospects as voted on by 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 a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Windsor Spitfires' defenseman Nick Ebert is one of several late-round defensive picks in the Kings' system developing at the junior level. (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The Los Angeles Kings currently have eight players developing in the CHL and USHL junior levels. Of those eight players, five are defenseman, and of those five defenseman, two were free agent signings and the other three were taken after the fourth round.
Photo: Two-way blueliner Jake Muzzin is one of the Los Angeles Kings' top defensive prospects playing with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs in 2012-13. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
For many years running now the Los Angeles Kings have had one of the best youth systems in the NHL. However, with promotions of players, deals involving picks, and later round selections, the pool has diminished slightly over time. It is the natural progression of a rebuilding mode that has given the organization three top-five picks since 2007 and seven top-15 picks since 2005.