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Zykov, Shore among Kings' top five prospects

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The stability of the Los Angeles Kings roster over the past three seasons hasn't allowed for much promotion, but that is likely to change because their Calder Cup champion American Hockey League affiliate is moving to Ontario, Calif.

The hour drive from Staples Center means the Kings can easily make a recall, either for an injury replacement or to give a prospect a quick look.

The Kings lack defensemen and centers in their system, and did not have a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Here is a look at the Kings' top five prospects, according to

1. Valentin Zykov, RW

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 37), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Gatineau, QJMHL: 26 GP, 15-13-28

Big things are expected of Zykov, 20, who will begin his pro career with the Ontario Reign, the new Southern California-based AHL affiliate. Zykov is a 6-foot, 209-pound power forward known for his strength, passing skills and work ethic.

A hernia forced Zykov out of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship for Russia, but he rebounded with a strong second half. This is a pivotal season for his development.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

2. Nick Shore, C

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 82), 2011 NHL Draft

Last season: Kings, 34 GP, 1-6-7; Manchester, AHL: 38 GP, 20-22-42

Shore, 22, is slotted as a bottom-six center for the Kings, who recalled him in January to give him a look over Mike Richards.

Shore (6-foot, 184) fits the Kings' mold of a two-way forward, and they would like to see him score more (his first NHL goal came when the puck hit his skate).

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

3. Derek Forbort, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 15), 2010 NHL Draft

Last season: Manchester, AHL: 67 GP, 4-11-15

Forbort, 23, has been in the Kings' system for five years and is their most NHL-ready defenseman. He spent three seasons playing for the University of North Dakota before he played his first full season with Manchester last season.

Forbort (6-foot-4, 219) has the enticing size to be an effective puck-mover, and this will likely be the season he gets time in the NHL.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Adrian Kempe, LW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 29), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Modo, Swedish Hockey League, 50 GP: 5-12-17; Manchester, AHL: 3 GP, 0-0-0

Kempe, 18, started to test himself in North America with three regular-season and 17 playoff games for Manchester last season.  He plays an all-around game and is known as a good skater. He probably needs to bulk up his 6-foot-2, 187-pound frame and will have the time to do so.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

5. Jordan Weal, C

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 80), 2011 NHL Draft

Last season: Manchester, AHL: 73 GP: 20-49-69

Weal, 23, was recalled for the Kings' regular-season finale in April with forward Andy Andreoff questionable, but did not play. Weal figures to get a look soon despite question about his size (5-9, 173). He tied for the AHL lead in playoff scoring and could push Andreoff and Shore in training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

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