NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Los Angeles Kings, according to NHL.com.
[Kings 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]
How acquired: Selected with No. 11 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: Kingston (OHL): 32 GP, 22-36-58
Vilardi, who turns 19 on Aug. 16, should be ready for training camp after he was held out of the 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase with a back issue. He could get a look at right wing on the third line with Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe. The question is if the Kings want to see more development in the Ontario Hockey League after Vilardi missed the first half of last season because of the injury.
"He's a big kid (6-foot-3, 201 pounds) with good hands who tore up the junior league coming in halfway through the year last year," coach John Stevens said. "I don't think another year of junior ever hurts anybody, but you look at a guy like Gabe and the numbers he put up when he was in the OHL, you just wonder if that isn't some kind of indication that he might be knocking on the door and [ready to] move on to the next level. He might be ready to play in the National Hockey League, but I think with a young player he has to be playing all the time."
Projected NHL arrival: This season
How acquired: Selected with No. 20 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Last season: Karpat (SM-liiga): 39 GP, 6-8-14; Hermes Kokkola (Mestis): 5 GP, 1-3-4
Kupari, 18, will return to Finland before his expected arrival to North America in 2019-20. He had four assists in five games playing center and wing on Finland's top line at the Summer Showcase.
Kupari (6-1, 183) has impressed the Kings with speed and skating comparable to Kempe, who played his first full NHL season in 2017-18.
"His skill level is obvious," Stevens said. "The kid can really skate. He's explosive and got more and more comfortable as he worked through our development camp. I like the skill set that he brings. He has to get stronger and a little more strength on his frame."
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season
Video: Blake on how Rasmus Kupari could help Kings
How acquired: Selected with No. 41 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: Spokane (WHL): 70 GP, 40-51-91; Ontario (AHL): 5 GP, 0-2-2
Anderson-Dolan (5-11, 188), who turns 19 on Sept. 12, made his pro debut last season after four seasons in the Western Hockey League.
"He's a year older," Stevens said. "He's very well-trained and a very serious competitor who does a lot of little things well. He can play probably all three forward positions."
Though Anderson-Dolan's work ethic and level of detail earned him a look in the American Hockey League, he may return to Spokane and perhaps play for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Projected NHL arrival: Next season
How acquired: Selected with No. 51 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
Last season: Brandon (WHL): 28 GP, 10-37-47; Moose Jaw (WHL): 26 GP, 1-23-24
Clague (6-foot, 177) won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy, awarded to the top defenseman in the WHL, after leading all defensemen with 60 assists. The 20-year-old had two assists in six games for Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship and 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 14 games for Moose Jaw in the WHL playoffs.
He is expected to turn pro this season and play in the AHL.
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21
Video: 31 in 31: Los Angeles Kings 2018-19 season preview
How acquired: Selected with No. 51 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Last season: Niagara (OHL): 68 GP, 22-59-81
Thomas, 18, finished fifth in the OHL in assists and second on Niagara in points, and had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 postseason games.
Thomas (5-11, 169) helped Canada win gold at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup with six points (two goals, four points) in five games and has twice competed at the World Juniors.
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21