Kings CHL prospects season review

By David A. Rainer

The regular season has concluded for the four Los Angeles Kings prospects playing in major juniors. All four prospects made it to the playoffs with their respective teams. Ryan McGinnis and Daniel Taylor stood out with impressive performances early in the playoff season, but only McGinnis and John Seymour survived to see the second round. Ned Lukacevic and Taylor may sign with the Kings this offseason and take their game to the next level in their development.

Facing the most shots in the OHL and with scoring up league-wide by 15 percent, Taylor had a bit of an off year with a goals-against average of 3.11 and a save percentage of .911. The season began for Taylor with a trade to the Kingston Frontenacs where he would assume the role as the No. 1 goaltender. Behind one of the top offenses in the league, Taylor could afford to face an increased number of shots and goals without having to be relied upon as the sole savior for the team to win. Taylor would finish the year sixth in the league in wins (32) and set a new career high for shutouts (3).

However, it was an inconsistent year for Taylor as he would never settle into a groove in turning away shots. Long winning streaks would be countered with stretches of losses and mediocre 7-6 and 6-5 games. But Taylor was stable enough to keep on winning for Kingston. The team would earn a playoff berth only to fall to lower-ranked Sudbury in six games. Taylor started the first five games, including a 39-save shutout on the brink of elimination in game five, but an injury would bar him from playing in game six which would prove to be the final game of the series. With the conclusion of their season, Taylor may sign with the Los Angeles Kings and join an already well-stocked group of goaltenders in the Kings minor league system.

Another prospect to start the season off with a new team, Lukacevic joined the Swift Current Broncos in a Sept. 20 trade from Spokane. Lukacevic immediately made an impact with his new team playing extensively on both the power play and the penalty kill. He set team highs in goals (25), assists (28), points (53), power-play goals (10), short-handed goals (3) and short-handed assists (1). Unfortunately, his season would end with a first round sweep at the hands of top-ranked Medicine Hat in which Lukacevic finished with only a single goal.

Lukacevic uses his skating ability to rapidly get down the ice, making him one of the more difficult players to defend, and has produced reasonably well given the young and under-talented teams he has played with over the years. Like Taylor, the conclusion of his season makes Lukacevic available to be signed by the Los Angeles Kings where he may prove to be a fresh infusion of sorely needed skill at Manchester.

Ryan McGinnis has quietly put together a rock-solid year on the blue line for the Plymouth Whalers. His six goals, 23 assists and 135 penalty minutes each represent new career highs, including steady defensive play in shutting down the opposition’s top scoring lines. His season had largely gone unnoticed until the playoff season began. McGinnis has jumped out to six assists, seven points and a plus/minus of +6 in his first seven playoff games, including two multi-point games and a plus/minus of +5 in the first game against Windsor. McGinnis and Plymouth continue their playoff season in round two against Guelph. McGinnis is only 19 years of age and will return to Plymouth next season. With several of their top defensemen likely to move on to the minor leagues, McGinnis will be looking to hold down a spot in the top defensive pairing next season.

A rough and gritty left-winger for the Brampton Battalion, Seymour has also set new career high in goals and points. However, at three goals and seven points, the accomplishment is not necessarily one to write home about. Seymour has been shuffled in and out of the line-up most of the season depending upon the match-ups. Brampton has also survived to the second round, but Seymour has only registered six penalty minutes in nine games to date. At only 18 years of age, he still has plenty of time to develop other skills before his juniors eligibility expires.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.