2021 TSP: Los Angeles Kings Prospects

Quinton Byfield 2020-21 season, 2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospects

Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospects

Kings Off-Season Review

The Kings rebuild is progressing at a rapid pace. They have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL and have already started to rise up the standings. Now they are also adding veteran talent to the team as they prepare to take the next step. The Kings traded for Viktor Arvidsson and signed Phillip Danault in a pair of marquee off-season moves. They also added Alex Edler, signing the veteran defender to a one-year deal. These veterans, combined with long-time Kings Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty will help create an environment for the next generation of Kings players to thrive.

2021 NHL Draft Picks: Brandt ClarkeFrancesco PinelliSamuel HeleniusKirill Kirsanov
Graduations: Gabriel Vilardi, Michael Anderson, Lias Andersson, Carl Grundstrom,

 

Top 2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospect: Quinton Byfield

Centre — shoots Left
Born August 19th, 2002 — Newmarket, Ontario
Height 6’4″ — Weight 215 lbs [193 cm / 98 kg]

Byfield started the season with Team Canada at the World Juniors. He put up seven points in seven games and won a silver medal. He also scored eight goals and 20 points in 32 games with the Ontario Reign in the AHL. Byfield added an assist in six games with the Kings.

Skating

Byfield has everything that teams want in a prospect. The big centre (already 6-foot-4 and still growing) is a tremendous skater. He moves extremely well, not just for a big man, but compared to all players. His speed and acceleration help Byfield to create in the transition game as well as to get back defensively and play a 200-foot game. He also has very good agility and edgework, making him dangerous in one-on-one situations. Byfield is strong on the puck, he can fight through checks and get to the dirty areas of the ice. He is also able to use his size and strength to win battles along the boards as well as to establish his position in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Byfield also has the hands to make moves with the puck while travelling at that top speed. This makes him extremely dangerous in the transition game. Byfield can be a goal scorer, with an excellent wrist shot, quick release and a very good one-timer. He also has the soft hands to finish in close to the net. He understands how to get open and find space without the puck. Byfield is very good at give-and-go style plays.

Byfield is also an excellent playmaker. He has the vision and hockey IQ to anticipate where his linemates will be and to set them up for scoring chances. He is capable of controlling the puck and quarterbacking the play on the power play. Byfield uses his size to protect the puck and extend plays. He can also play a physical game, getting in quickly on the forecheck and forcing turnovers which he quickly turns into scoring chances. Byfield is not afraid to battle in front of the net and to fight for loose pucks in the corners. His size and strength are impressive, even when facing opponents who are up to three years older.

Defensive Game

Byfield is also already well-developed in his own end of the ice, playing a strong defensive game. He uses his size and his long stick to cut down on passing lanes and create turnovers. He also uses his physical size and strength to support the defence down low, helping to cut out the opponent’s cycle game. Byfield is a smart player. He is strong positionally and provides effective backpressure when defending against the rush. He is good in the face-off circle as well.

Projection and Comparison

Byfield has the size and power that makes NHL general managers drool. He combines that with high-end hockey IQ and an extremely high skill level. Byfield has the potential to be a franchise defining centre for the Kings. He will compete for a spot in Kings training camp but may need just a bit more time in the AHL though as he still needs to round out his game just a little. Playing 20 minutes in the AHL in all situations may be better than playing on the bottom lines of the Kings.

 

#2 Prospect: Alex Turcotte

Centre — shoots Left
Born February 26th, 2001 — Island Lake, Illinois
Height 5’11” — Weight 194 lbs [180 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1st Round, #5 Overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Turcotte also started his season at the World Juniors. He scored three goals and eight points in seven games and helped Team USA to the gold medal. When the AHL season started, he joined the Ontario Reign. Turcotte put up six goals and 21 points in 32 games with the Reign.

Skating

Turcotte is an excellent skater. He has a long and powerful stride that makes it very difficult to knock him off the puck. Turcotte is exceptionally quick, he has a very good first step and excellent acceleration. His top-end speed is also very good and just a notch below being great. Once he gets a step on a defender, he can take the puck to the net. That may even improve as he continues to recover from the lower body injury that plagued him early in the season. On top of all that is the fact that Turcotte has a non-stop motor. He is always moving his feet, which keeps him one step ahead of his opponents.

Offensive Game

Turcotte controls the play down low, extending the possession and waiting for teammates to get open. When there is an opportunity, he can make a tough pass through tight spaces. Turcotte also has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release. His snapshot and slap shot are also very good. Turcotte has the soft hands to score goals in tight to the net. He is not afraid to take the punishment in front of the net and has the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins and pounce on rebounds.

Alex Turcotte is relentless in his play, forechecking hard and causing turnovers in the offensive zone. He is a real thorn in the side of opponents. He also has plenty of skill, with his ability to control the puck and make plays while skating at top speed a real asset to his game. Turcotte could use some improvement making quick moves and changing the angles to open up passing lanes and find open teammates. He is a smart player who reads the play well and keeps the puck moving effectively but often is forced into taking a safe pass instead of creating a great scoring chance.

Defensive Game

Alex Turcotte is excellent in the defensive zone. He reads the play well and keeps himself between his man and the front of the net. Turcotte uses an active stick to poke check opponents as well as to intercept passes. He is extremely effective on the penalty kill. He quickly transitions turnovers to offence. Turcotte is not a big hitter, but he is not afraid to take a hit to make a play. He is also relentless in getting after the puck and getting in the mix in the dirty areas of the ice. Despite the lack of really big hits, he is always in the face of his opponents.

Outlook

Like Byfield, Turcotte heads to Kings camp looking to make the main roster. It also couldn’t hurt to have him playing big minutes with Ontario for another season, given that last year was limited to 32 games. Turcotte’s non-stop motor and offensive skills make him a prospect who can play in any situation and fill any role. With a few small improvements, Turcotte could become a number one centre in time. Even if he never reaches that ceiling and becomes an effective two-way second-line centre, he will still be a coach’s favourite due to his defensive game and relentless energy.

 

#3 Prospect: Brandt Clarke

The Kings drafted Clarke with the 3rd overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Clarke. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#4 Prospect: Tobias Bjornfot

Defence — shoots Left
Born April 6th, 2001 — Upplands Väsby, Sweden
Height 6’0″ — Weight 205 lbs [183 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1st Round, #22 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Bjornfot started the season with Djurgardens in the SHL. He put up a goal and two assists in 15 games. He also played for Sweden at the World Juniors, picking up two assists in five games. Bjornfot

Skating

Bjornfot is another strong two-way defender, whose game is based on strong skating ability. He has very good speed in both directions. His acceleration is also at a high level. He pairs this with excellent pivots, agility and edgework to play a two-way game. Bjornfot covers a lot of ice quickly. He is able to transition from offence to defence, or vice-versa, effectively. Bjornfot can also quickly change speeds or directions in order to avoid a forechecker. He also has a strong lower body which helps him to win battles along the boards and in front of the net. Bjornfot is strong on the puck and his stride helps him fight through checks.

Offensive Game

In the offensive end, Tobias Bjornfot has a good wrist shot with a decent release. He sneaks in from the point to get it off closer to the net. However, his slap shot could use some work. Bjornfot sees the ice well and makes smart plays with the puck. He makes good passes to start the rush and transition game. He is also not afraid to rush the puck up the ice himself or join in as a trailer. The combination of his stickhandling and skating ability also gives him the ability to skate the puck out of danger and avoid forecheckers in his own end. He has some creativity on the point, but this is an area he can continue to work on. He tends to be conservative and does not take a lot of chances to make an offensive play.

Bjornfot is willing to join the rush at times and when he does can provide some offence with his passing skill and his wrist shot as a trailer. This is not something he does very often though, as he is again content to play a conservative and more defensive style. There is potential to produce better numbers than he has put up to date as the skill is there. It will take some coaching to get him to take advantage of the opportunities though.

Defensive Game

Bjornfot defends well against the rush and is very well positioned and disciplined in his own end. He has a high hockey IQ and reads the play extremely well. His anticipation of where the play is going and what play the other team will try to make is high-end. This leads to him breaking up plays and intercepting passes. When turnovers happen, he is quick to transition the puck out of the zone. Bjornfot is a little weak on the boards and in front of the net right now. As he matures and bulks up this should get better.

Outlook

Bjornfot could develop into a two-way defenceman with a top-four role at the NHL level. Like most young defenders, he still has some things to learn in his own zone. That said, he is already highly advanced for his age and had a strong rookie season. He should be part of the Kings again this year.

 

#5 Prospect: Arthur Kaliyev

Right Wing — shoots Left
Born June 26th, 2001 — Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Height 6’2″ — Weight 190 lbs [188 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round, #33 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Kaliyev is another prospect whose season began with the World Juniors. He put up three goals and eight points in seven games and won a gold medal. Kaliyev then joined the Ontario Reign and had a great season for a 19-year-old. He put up 14 goals and 31 points in 40 games. He even played his first NHL game and scored his first NHL goal.

Skating

While he will never be confused for an elite skater, Kaliyev has made some strides since being drafted. His agility and edgework are above average. His top-end speed is good but not great, as Kaliyev is able to keep up with the play. Kaliyev is strong on his skates. He has very good balance and is tough to knock off the puck. He does well in board battles and is very good at establishing his position in front of the net. Kaliyev has been criticized for his work ethic in the past but has become more consistent as he matures.

Offensive Game

A pure sniper, Kaliyev has a tremendous wrist shot. He picks corners with ease, and his quick release often fools goaltenders. He also has a very good snapshot and an excellent slap shot. Kaliyev can also score with an effective backhand. He is solid on his skates and not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice. He establishes a position in front of the net and is tough to move out. Once there Kaliyev uses a quick stick and good hand-eye coordination to pounce on rebounds, tip in pucks, or quickly one-time a pass into the back of the net. Without the puck, he has a real knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting open to receive a pass from a teammate.

Kaliyev is also a skilled stick handler who can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. While he is mainly known for his goal-scoring, he continues to develop into a playmaker as well. He shows patience with the puck to make plays and set up teammates. Kaliyev extends plays on the cycle and allows his linemates the time to get open. He also has the vision and passing skill to find an open teammate with a pass through a tight area. Kaliyev is willing to take risks to make a creative play, either to get his own shot off or to set up a teammate. He can runs the power play off the half boards.

Defensive Game

Kaliyev’s defensive game is still a bit of a work in progress. He has done a good job of getting involved in the defensive end and helping the defence down low. He also has shown effort bringing pressure on the backcheck. That said, he still needs work on his positioning and technique. While his effort levels are less of a question mark, he now needs ice time and continued work on his technique. Last year’s shortened season certainly didn’t do him any favours.

Projection and Comparison

Kaliyev has immense skill. His ability to score goals will certainly lead to him getting plenty of opportunities at the NHL level. He also has a high-end hockey sense, and his playmaking abilities are starting to rival his goal-scoring skills. However, he is not quite ready yet and will likely spend some more time in the AHL rounding out his game.

 

#6 Prospect: Rasmus Kupari

Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born March 15th, 2000 — Kotka, Finland
Height 6’1″ — Weight 189 lbs [185 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1st round, #20 Overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft

Kupari took a real step forward in the AHL this year. He scored eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 32 games with the Ontario Reign. He also played seven games with the Kings, scoring his first NHL goal.

Skating

Rasmus Kupari is an outstanding skater. Kupari is exceptionally fast and has great acceleration. His ability to change speeds is a weapon. He quickly changes speeds in order to get free from a defender or to open up passing and shooting lanes. He also has very good edgework and agility, which allows him to make quick cuts and fakes that can fool defenders. He has gotten stronger but there is still more work to do. More muscle in his lower body will allow him to fight through checks, be more effective in the cycle game, and win more battles along the boards.

Offensive Game

Kupari is most dangerous with the puck on his stick. He is a tremendous stick handler and can beat defensemen one-on-one. Pairing this with his skating skills, and he is difficult to defend. Kupari also has very good passing skills and excellent vision. Once he opens up a passing lane, he quickly makes a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Kupari anticipates plays well and knows where his teammates are going before they make their move. He almost always makes the smart play with the puck.

Kupari wrist shot has a good release, but he needs to work on both the accuracy and power of the shot. He needs to add mass to his frame, as he can have issues being pushed off the puck right now. Kupari is getting better at scoring goals in tight. He gets to the front of the net without the puck and is able to knock in rebounds and get deflections. He can be more effective as he grows into his frame.

Defensive Game

Kupari is a willing back checker. He supports the defence with good back pressure against the rush. He also understands positioning in his own end and cuts down passing lanes with a good stick. However, Kupari is not perfect in this area. As a young player, there are still some improvements to be made without the puck. Once a turnover is created, he transitions quickly to offence. However, his work down low is another area where added muscle will help him. He will become better at winning battles and containing his man and keeping him away from the front of the net. Kupari is decent in the face-off circle.

Outlook

A natural centre, Kupari is capable of playing all three forward positions. This will be a big advantage for him as there is so much competition at centre in the Kings system right now. He will go to training camp looking to get involved in the competition for centre spots on the NHL roster. Given that his last two AHL seasons have been cut short due to various reasons, it wouldn’t hurt him to spend a year in the AHL if he can’t get the NHL job.

 

#7 Prospect: Brock Faber

Defence — shoots Right
Born August 22nd, 2002 — Maple Grove, Minnesota
Height 6’0″ — Weight 193 lbs [183 cm/88 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd Round, #45 Overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft.

Faber had a solid freshman season at the University of Minnesota. He quickly made his way up the lineup and was playing top-four minutes before long. He put up one goal and 12 points in 27 games. Faber helped the Gophers to the Big Ten Championship and was named to the conference All-Rookie Team. He was also an Honourable Mention for the overall conference All-Star teams. Faber also had five assists at the World Juniors, helping team USA to a gold medal.

Skating

Faber is a good skater, but there are still areas that he can improve. His first step and acceleration are both well above average. His top-end speed is also well above average. This is true in both directions and helps him to be effective at both ends of the ice. He has good pivots and is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Faber’s edgework and agility are also very good. This allows him to move laterally, walking the line in the offensive zone and staying in front of attackers when defending. For his age, his lower body strength and balance are decent. He is strong on the puck and wins battles along the boards and in front of the net. However, he will need to get stronger going forward as he moves to higher levels of hockey.

Offensive Game

Faber has not put up big numbers on the US NTDP or in college but may have some untapped offensive potential. He is mainly a safe, stay-at-home type of defender. If he is coached on how and when to take more offensive chances, he could score more as he has some skill. His one-timer has decent power and he does a good job of getting the puck on net. As he gets stronger he may shoot even harder and score more goals. With his lateral mobility, he should be able to walk the line and create shooting lanes even when defenders pay more attention to him as a threat. He can also sneak in from the line and let go of an effective wrist shot at the top of the circles.

Faber has good hands that he pairs with his skating ability to retrieve loose pucks, avoid forecheckers and get the puck out of his own end. He also makes good decisions and is effective with his first pass to start the transition game. When he has the puck at the opponent’s blue line, he is quick to move it. Faber prefers the quick, safe pass, or dumping it in the corner rather than keeping the puck on his stick and trying to create a play. He will need confidence in his abilities and to take a few more chances in order to develop his offensive game.

Defensive Game

The bread and butter of Faber’s game is his work in the defensive zone. He reads the play extremely well and puts himself in a good position to cut down passing and shooting lanes. He also uses his strong backwards skating and good lateral mobility to maintain good gap control and force offenders to the outside. Faber’s quick stick can knock the puck away from an opponent. He is also willing to play physically. While Faber is not a big hitter, he is not afraid to battle along the boards and to clear the front of the net. Faber’s ability to move the puck up the ice helps his team clear the zone quickly and limits the opponent’s zone time.

Projection and Comparison

Faber’s skating and defensive game make him a legitimate NHL prospect. If he is able to develop, he could be a top-four player, capable of helping on the penalty kill. While he has some offensive skills, Faber is not likely to become an offensive catalyst at the NHL level, but should still be a valuable player. Faber will return to the University of Minnesota next season. If he has another solid year, he could be signing an ELC in the spring.

 

#8 Prospect: Samuel Fagemo

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born March 14th, 2000 — Goteborg, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 194 lbs [180 cm / 88 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd Round, #50 Overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Fagemo started the season with Sodertalje in the Allsvenskan. He put up six goals and 11 points in 18 games. Once the AHL came back, he put up 10 goals and 18 points in 32 games. He also added an assist in one playoff game.

Skating

Fagemo has a very unorthodox skating stride, however, it does not hold him back. He shows very good speed and can put pressure on the defence by taking them wide and cutting to the net. He reaches that speed quickly with decent acceleration. Fagemo also has good edgework and agility. This allows him to make quick cuts and avoid defenders both with and without the puck. Fagemo shows good core strength. This allows him to generate power in his stride and fight through checks, hooks and holds. He has also worked to get stronger and is better at battling for pucks in the corners and establishing his position in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Fagemo loves to shoot the puck and will do so at any opportunity. He has a powerful wrist shot and a quick release. His accuracy is also decent. He has a knack for finding open space in the offensive end and putting his body in a position to take a pass from a teammate and immediately fire the puck on the net. Fagemo also has a very good one-timer. He is a good stick handler. Fagemo combines a number of quick moves with his speed and agility in order to get past defenders or simply to make a small move and create space to get his shot off.

When his feet are moving he is good at controlling the puck down low on the cycle. He is willing to get to the front of the net, driving it there with the puck and looking to get open and make a play without it. Fagemo is not known as a playmaker but has underrated skills in this area. He can make passes through tight areas and find a teammate for a scoring chance. His ability to control the puck in the cycle can help him extend plays, giving his linemates a chance to find an opening. His agility, edgework, and stick handling can also combine to open up passing lanes. However, Fagemo is a shoot first player and does not always utilize these skills as well as he could.

Defensive Game

Fagemo has really improved his defensive game. He is always moving his feet and plays with a non-stop motor in all three zones. He has also become much more physical in the defensive zone, battling on the boards for a loose puck and supporting the defence down low to control his opponent in the cycle. Fagemo could still use a bit of work on his positioning as he gets a bit too aggressive at times and gets away from where he should be looking to get after the puck carrier. However, he has made great strides since his draft year and if he continues in this direction will be an effective two-way player.

Outlook

Fagemo continues to show development each year. He has really improved his skating and his defensive game, and this has helped him go from undrafted in 2018, to a 2nd round pick in 2019 and to a legit top prospect in 2021. He should go to Kings camp looking to push for a spot on the NHL team. If he can’t make the roster given all the competition upfront, he should still be a key player in the AHL and a callup if others are injured or not performing this season.

 

#9 Prospect: Jaret Anderson-Dolan

Centre — shoots Left
Born September 12th, 1999 — Calgary, Alberta
Height 5’11” — Weight 196 lbs [180 cm / 89 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round, #41 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft.

Anderson-Dolan played 34 games with the Kings last year, putting up seven goals and 11 points. With 43 career games, he still qualifies as a prospect by seven games. He also won a gold medal with Team Canada at the IIHF Men’s World Championships, scoring two assists in ten tournament games.

Skating

Anderson-Dolan is a very good skater. He has an outstanding first step and great acceleration, as well as very good top-end speed. Anderson can beat defensemen one-on-one. Once he gets a step on a defender, he can cut to the inside, drop his shoulder and drive the net. He has the strength and balance in his lower body to fight through checks as he makes the drive to the net. He is also hard to knock off the puck as he battles along the boards. Anderson-Dolan also has very good edgework and agility. He can make quick cuts and changes of direction to fool defenders and manoeuver in traffic both with and without the puck.

Offensive Game

Anderson-Dolan also uses his excellent skating to get in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring defenders into mistakes and creating turnovers. Once he does get a turnover, he uses his strength on the puck to protect it down low and extend possession. More a goal scorer than a playmaker, Anderson-Dolan still shows good vision and passing skills.

Anderson-Dolan’s dogged determination is also an asset around the net. He scores goals in tight to the goalie by using his soft hands after driving the net, or by knocking in rebounds, or a short one-timer on a quick pass. His wrist shot is also a weapon from further out as he has surprising power, and a quick release. Anderson-Dolan also has an effective one-timer. His hockey IQ allows him to find the soft spots in the defence and set himself up to receive the pass and fire a shot on goal.

Defensive Game

Anderson-Dolan has a well-developed defensive game for his age. His speed and quickness help him to get to loose pucks and he does this in all three zones. It also helps him to pressure puck carriers and cut down options for attackers. He is very good at transitioning a turnover into offence. Anderson-Dolan is a good penalty killer and can be matched against an opponent’s top line. He could still stand to work on his positioning though and on staying disciplined with his man, instead of chasing the puck.

Outlook

Anderson-Dolan will continue with the Kings this year. His junior scoring hasn’t really translated to the NHL yet, but he has played strong defensive hockey for Los Angeles. He will look to add a bit more offence while continuing to be reliable defensively going forward.

 

#10 Prospect: Akil Thomas

Centre/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born January 2nd, 2000 — Toronto, Ontario
Height 6’0” — Weight 181 lbs [183 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round, #51 overall, in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Thomas had a strong first professional season with the Ontario Reign. He put up 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 40 games. He also added one goal in one playoff game.

Skating

Thomas is a speedster, he can absolutely fly. He reaches that top speed in just a few strides thanks to his excellent technique and acceleration. Thomas adds strong edgework and very good agility. He is very dangerous off the rush, as he can beat defenders in a variety of ways. Whether it is with quick movements, or with changing speeds, he is able to get by his man and weave through traffic. Thomas has a low centre of gravity, which gives him decent balance. Moving up to the pro game it is clear that he still needs to add some muscle which will help to improve this aspect of his game.

Offensive Game

Thomas maintains that top speed with the puck on his stick. Defenders must back off or risk getting beaten to the net. Thomas is a smart player taking advantage of this time and space to create passing lanes to teammates and set up scoring opportunities. He can also create space with very good stickhandling ability. At times, he can make too many moves and run out of space, but this is something he continues to do less and less. Thomas can also make plays on the cycle game. He controls the puck well down low and has the vision and passing skills to find open teammates. Thomas is poised with the puck and keeps his head up. He also played the point on the IceDogs power play, excelling in the role of quarterback. Thomas hasn’t done this in the AHL much though.

While he is more of a natural playmaker than a goal scorer, Thomas has become more effective as a scorer this past season. His wrist shot has gotten harder as he has added upper-body strength, making him more dangerous. The release is relatively quick. Thomas also improved the power of his snapshot and slap shot. That said there is still room to improve as he continues to add muscle to his strength.

Defensive Game

Thomas plays a solid two-way game, as he hounds puck carriers on the backcheck, and then quickly transitions to offence. His defensive instincts were a bit of a question mark early in his draft year but have really improved over the last couple of seasons. This can be explained with the transition from wing to centre. He has earned the trust of his coaches and is used in important defensive situations late in games.

Outlook

With a shortened AHL season, Thomas still needs a bit more development time next year. Expect to see him back with the Reign. There is some question if he will be a centre or a winger going forward but the versatility has to be an asset, especially on what will be a deep Kings team.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Martin Chromiak

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born August 20th, 2002 — Ilava, Slovakia
Height 6’0″ — Weight 187 lbs [183 cm/85 kg]
Drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 5th Round, #128 Overall, in the 2020 NHL Draft.

With the OHL never getting started, Chromiak spent the season with HK Dukla Trencin, playing against men in the Slovakian men’s league. As an 18-year-old he scored seven goals and 19 points in 32 games. He also played for the Slovakian team at the World Juniors, picking up one goal in five games. Chromiak finished the season with two games in the AHL.

Skating

Chromiak is a good but not a great skater. His stride is a little unorthodox and some work with a skating coach could lengthen it and give him a bit more speed. That said, his top-end speed is still good and he has no problem keeping up with the play, especially playing with 2022 Draft phenom Shane Wright. Chromiak has a quick first step but improving that stride will also help his acceleration. His lateral agility and edgework are extremely strong. He can turn on a dime and his quick cuts allow him to get away from defenders. Chromiak also shows good lower body strength. He has good balance and can fight for position in front of the net or along the boards.

Offensive Game

Chromiak is a natural sniper. His wrist shot has a lightning-quick release. His ability to quickly toe-drag the puck or change the angle of his release freezes goaltenders and makes him difficult to stop. Chromiak’s wrist shot is also accurate and powerful. He also has an excellent snapshot and a very good one-timer. Chromiak has a real knack for finding the soft spots in the defence and getting open to take a pass from his teammates. He is not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice. With his quick hands and strong skating, he can also create his own shot on the rush.

Chromiak also pairs his skating ability with quick hands and the ability to make plays while moving at top speed. He sees the ice well and can make a pass to a teammate through tight areas. Chromiak can work the half-boards on the power play, setting up teammates. From that position, he also gets into the faceoff circle without the puck, ready to let go his shot. He is willing to engage in battles on the boards and in front of the net. Chromiak is aggressive on the forecheck, chasing down defenders and forcing them into mistakes. When they make mistakes he can quickly turn them into a scoring chance.

Defensive Game

Chromiak’s defensive game is a bit inconsistent right now. He can get back quickly and support the defence against the cycle game and with effective back pressure against the transition game. He is also smart positionally and cuts down passing lanes. Chromiak also creates turnovers with his good anticipation. He could stand to engage more physically though. Chromiak can create turnovers by knocking the puck away from an opponent but also uses that a bit too much. He can seem to reach for the puck at times when using his physical gifts would be more effective.

Projection and Comparison

Chromiak has the offensive skills to be a top-six forward but still needs plenty of time developing. He should be back in Kingston next year, again having the opportunity to play with Shane Wright. He is likely two or three years away from really pushing for a job with the Kings.

 

Other 2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospects To Watch

The Kings prospect group is incredibly deep. It is clearly one of, if not the best, groups in the NHL. Multiple prospects who could have made the top 10 with any other team are deeper down the Kings system. Without looking at 2021 picks (you can click them above), we can name a number of honourable mentions here. At forward one should keep an eye on Tyler Madden, Aatu Jamsen, Alex Laferriere, Vladimir Tkachev, and Andre Lee. Defenders to watch include Helge Grans, Kale Clague, Jordan Spence, Kim Nousiainen, and Sean Durzi.

The only area the Kings really have question marks is in goal, where one of Jacob Ingham, Lukas Parik, or Matt Villalta could still emerge from a position that is traditionally voodoo. That said, the Kings could be on the lookout for a high-end goalie prospect in a trade, or in the 2022 draft.

 

2021 Los Angeles Kings Prospects Main Photo:

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – MAY 05: Quinton Byfield #55 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on May 05, 2021, in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


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