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.
Photo: Nick Shore, one of the many skilled forwards to watch in the Kings' system in 2012-13, is already off to a quick start for Denver University. (courtesy of Patrick S Blood/Icon SMI)
The 2012-13 season commences for the Los Angeles Kings prospects knowing that their organization just achieved hockey's greatest prize. Through years of solid drafting and good prospect development, the Kings were able to mold a championship-winning lineup. It seems that this trend is still alive and well within the pipeline with notable prospects at all levels of play.
Photo: Los Angeles Kings prospect Paul Ladue will play at the University of North Dakota starting in the fall of 2013 (courtesy of Kim Fogle/Lincoln Stars)
During the 2010-11 season, defenseman Paul LaDue was playing for the Alexandria Blizzard of the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league known more for producing players for the NCAA rather than the NHL. Just a year later, on June 23rd of this year, he heard his name called at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.