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).
Photo: Junior Nick Shore led the Denver Pioneers with 34 points in 39 games in 2012-13, but the team could not get past New Hampshire in the tournament's first round (courtesy of Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
Over the years the Los Angeles Kings' scouting staff has developed a solid reputation of selecting, signing, and developing NCAA athletes. General Manager Dean Lombardi has been pretty adamant in the belief that NCAA hockey helps players mature physically and mentally before making way into the world of professional hockey. Current Kings Alec Martinez, Jonathan Quick, Matt Greene, and Rob Scuderi are just a few names on the current Kings roster who have played at the collegiate level, and in the minor leagues the organization has several former and current collegiate players edging closer to the NHL.
Photo: Cornell forward and Los Angeles Kings prospect Joel Lowry is the son of former NHL player Dave Lowry and brother of Winnipeg Jets prospect Adam Lowry (courtesy of Patrick Shanahan/Cornell Athletic Communications)
Despite not having the WHL option as a 17-year-old, Joel Lowry has come into his own at Cornell since being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2011.