"The Kings system is a crushing lineup of prospects, where legit talent extends for a very long time."
Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked the LA Kings "pipeline" as being the fifth-best in the NHL, showcasing the depth in prospective NHL players throughout the organization.
Pronman's rankings accounted for all players under the age of 23, with the Kings higher-ranking players trending closer to 18 than 23 at this point. The Kings most-highly ranked prospects have had just one season or fewer of professional hockey in North America, with Pronman indicating NHL player for more than 20 players on the list.
The Kings recent drafts have left the team with an abundance of highly-regarded younger players in this age range, with several appearing poised to contribute and breakout over the next couple of seasons, firmly within the process the Kings have in place.
Pronman's Top 10:
- Quinton Byfield
- Arthur Kaliyev
- Brandt Clarke
- Samuel Fagemo
- Gabriel Vilardi
- Kirill Kirsanov
- Alex Turcotte
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan
- Rasmus Kupari
- Lias Andersson
The only teams to rank above the Kings were the Sabres, Rangers, Senators and Hurricanes, all of which have players who are slightly further in the development process at this stage. Seeing more of these Kings rookies begin to contribute at the NHL level, while still 22 or younger, could see the Kings rise even further up on this list.
CLICK HERE to view Pronman's full analysis of the Kings pipeline.
Of the players ranked in Pronman's Top 10, six played NHL games with the Kings this past season, and all but the two selected in 2021 played within the organization with either the Kings or the AHL's Ontario Reign.
Vilardi, Anderson-Dolan and Andersson, along with Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot, were NHL regulars with the young, 2021 LA Kings. Others such as Byfield, Kaliyev and Kupari got their first taste of NHL action during this past season, while forwards such as Fagemo and Turcotte skated in the AHL with Ontario for the majority of the season.
Byfield, recently named by The Athletic's Scott Wheeler as the top prospect in the NHL, ranked at a projected NHL average or better in each ranked trait, with Pronman projecting the possibility of "star" potential for the young centerman.
"Byfield has great hands, and with his reach and speed he's able to put pucks through defenders easily with pace. His puck game and playmaking won't be true top tier in the NHL, but they'll be more than good enough to score a lot and play high in a lineup. Byfield projects as a No. 1 center in the NHL with a chance to be a star."
Arthur Kaliyev (shot) and Alex Turcotte (compete level) checked in with nearly elite level traits in their respective categories, rated as "high-end".
On Kaliyev: "Once inside the offensive zone he's deadly. He has a shot that can pick corners from range, and he's a tremendous passer who can make quick plays into seams and be creative as a playmaker."
On Turcotte: "His compete level drives his game. He's tenacious on pucks, winning a ton of battles against bigger players along the boards and at the net, and putting pressure on puck carriers. He's a good skater, not a blazer, but his effort makes his pace clear NHL quality."
Players such as Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot, ranked 13th and 14th by Pronman, have already proven to be successful at the NHL level, outperforming their positions on this list to date. Considering their prowess as young players, having both ranked outside the Top 10 validates the depth of the Kings prospect pool, having several players at multiple positions who are projected to become NHL regulars.
Combined with the high-end ratings provided recently by Wheeler, the prospect pool seems to be right in order for the Kings.