2020 and early 2021 have brought a new level of volatility to ranking NHL prospects. Yet, for many teams, the future is incredibly bright. A plethora of future stars and household names are on brink of full-time NHL duty. After months of video and deep dives, the next few weeks will be spent outlining which teams have the deepest prospect pools in the NHL.
In my rankings of all 31 teams, the Kings have the deepest and most complete prospect pool of any team in the NHL. In particular, the Kings boast a future one-two punch up the middle, a unique depth position-wise. While the Kings have a plethora of talent, they are likely to continue stock-piling for another year or two. On paper, the Kings are one of if not the worst team in the NHL again this year, putting them in a position to receive another lottery pick in 2021. If the Kings develop their young prospects well, they are likely to be a playoff team again in a few seasons, with potential for Stanley Cup success in four to five years.
Here are the Kings’ top 10 prospects and their projected ceilings.
1. C Quinton Byfield 6’4 215 OHL 45-32-50-82-44
Byfield jumps to the top of the Kings’ prospect board after being selected second overall in the 2020 draft. Byfield is a unique blend of size, strength, skill, and speed. His style of play is unique in that he can beat the opposition one-on-one with his elite hands, skating, or through overpowering with his size and strength. Byfield had a rather quiet World Junior Championship for the Canadian silver-medal squad, but he did show flashes of the brilliance scouts are banking on. With the OHL season in jeopardy, Byfield is likely to play in the AHL to start the season and could even see a game or two in the NHL. The future number one center is at least a year away from full-time NHL duty.
2. C Alex Turcotte 5’11 185 BIG-10 29-9-17-26-20
The Kings second-best prospect is also a center, U.S. World Junior Champion gold medalist Alex Turcotte. Turcotte, the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft, is a highly-skilled, tenacious, two-way center. He plays a much different style of play than Byfield, but still boasts a strong overall skill-set. Turcotte played last season at the University of Wisconsin. While he put up decent statistics, he lacked consistency at times and looked overwhelmed in moments. At the end of the season, Turcotte made the decision to turn pro. Like Byfield, Turcotte will likely begin the season in the AHL once their season begins. He may see some NHL time at some point this season as well. Turcotte looks like a strong, steady number two center who can play in all situations. He and Byfield are a perfect complement to one another in the line-up. Turcotte is likely a season away from full-time NHL duty.
3. W Arthur Kaliyev 6’2 180 OHL 57-44-54-98-28
Turcotte’s teammate for U.S.A. at the World Junior Championship, Kaliyev is one of the best goal-scoring prospects in the NHL. In three OHL seasons, Kaliyev has registered an average of 42 goals per season, a tremendous feat few have ever accomplished. Kaliyev has an NHL ready shot, which he can unleash from anywhere. He also uses his strong hockey sense to find ways to create space for himself before unleashing his lethal wrister. The biggest concern for Kaliyev is his skating. There are times he can look downright slow. With some improvement, Kaliyev could easily be a top-six scoring winger in the NHL within a year or two. Kaliyev will start the season in the AHL, like both Turcotte and Byfield.
4. D Tobias Bjornfot 6’0 202 AHL 44-6-13-19-12
Bjornfot was the surprise of NHL camps last season. Surprisingly, the 2019 22nd overall pick made the Kings right out of camp and managed three games before spending the season in the AHL as an 18-year-old. Bjornfot is a well-rounded two-way defender who does everything well. His game isn’t flashy, but he has an excellent first-pass and sense of defensive awareness. He may never have a “wow” factor to his game, but Bjornfot has the makings of a long-time, steady second pairing defender at the NHL level. He is likely another year or two away from full-time NHL duty.
5. W Samuel Fagemo 5’11 190 SWEHL 42-13-9-22-10
Goal-scoring has apparently been on the docket for the Kings with their second-round picks as of late. Fagemo, the 50th pick in the 2019 draft, has all the makings of a top-six goal scoring winger. The late-bloomer has an excellent release and is a decent skater. Fagemo led the World Juniors in goal scoring back in 2020, but he also has had success in Sweden’s top league as a teenager. Fagemo will likely finish out the year in Sweden, but look for him to compete for a roster spot in camp next season.
6. C Gabe Vilardi 6’3 201 AHL 32-9-16-25-14
If there is a player I’m rooting for on this list, it’s Gabe Vilardi. Vilardi has had terrible luck with injuries. At one point, it looked as though these injuries would ultimately lead to early retirement before Vilardi had even played one regular-season NHL game. Last year, however, Vilardi seemed to finally turn a corner and managed to play over 30 games in the AHL. He also made his NHL debut and didn’t look out of place. When at his best, Vilardi is a modern-day power forward. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in positioning and using his size to create space for himself and his teammates. Vilardi has excellent hands in tight and can play in all situations. If he remains healthy, Vilardi could max out as a second-liner. He will play in the NHL in a support role this season.
7.C Tyler Madden 5’11 152 HE 27-19-18-37-34
Madden, the son of former NHLer John Madden, comes in at number seven on the Kings board. A former Vancouver mid-round pick, Madden was acquired in the Tyler Toffoli trade at the deadline last year. Like his father, Madden is known for his speed, but Tyler also has an offensive flair to his game. Overall, Madden plays a high-tempo game and forechecks with tenacity. He can play in all situations and will likely move up and down the lineup depending on circumstances. Madden likely maxes out as a top-six forward and will likely settle into a middle-six role at the NHL level. He is likely two to three seasons away from NHL duty.
8. C Rasmus Kupari 6’1 183 AHL 27-6-2-8-9
Kupari is one of the more volatile prospects on this list. The 2018 first-rounder is an excellent skater and has shown strong offensive instincts in seasons past. However, last season, Kupari struggled mightily in his AHL debut. Lack of size and strength seemed like a secondary issue before last season, but now it remains a bit of a question mark. At his best, Kupari is a crafty offensive-minded forward who uses his edges and overall speed to create offense. More of a play-maker than a goal-scorer, Kupari is likely to be a middle-six player at the NHL level. He is at least one to two years away from NHL duty.
9. D Helge Grans 6’2 185 SWEHL 21-1-2-3-4
Grans and Bjornfot are very similar players on this list, and are likely to lead a youth movement on the Kings’ blue-line in the very near future. Grans is a big-rangy two-way defender that on occasion can surprise with some offense. Like Bjornfot, Grans is well-rounded and can play in all situations. The 2020 second-rounder will need three to four years of development before he is NHL ready. His ceiling is likely a second-pairing defender at the NHL level.
10. Jared Anderson-Dolan 5’11 188 AHL 53-8-20-28-31
Anderson-Dolan may be a surprise here for some at pick 10, but I am still a believer after an up and down start to his professional career. Anderson-Dolan, a 2017 second-round pick, is a two-way forward who plays with a high-motor. There are few prospects I have seen that hunt pucks like Anderson-Dolan. In his WHL days, he could drive play and was one of the youngest captains in the WHL during his days playing for the Spokane Chiefs. His offense may take a while to come around in the AHL, but he has all the makings of a strong and steady third-line NHL player. If he develops this year, I could see him play some NHL minutes later on this season, anticipating full-time NHL duty in 2021-2022.