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The Future Is Bright

August 22, 2019, 10:49 AM ET [6 Comments]
Matt Ross
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
There was an article posted on NHL.com yesterday that details the Kings farm system being ranked #2 in the NHL by the Sporting News.

Hey...not too shabby!

Blake's plan has come together (so far). Through current young talent like Petersen, etc., trades the past couple years to collect picks/young guns (Grundrstrom) and a fantastic draft, the Kings have built up an impressive stable in a fairly short amount of time.

The Sporting News piece breaks down each team by a number of factors (refer to their article for a detailed breakdown of each category) to develop the ranking they have: Point Production, Age, NHL Games Played, NHL Readiness and Experience, Draft Ranking, Graduations and Trades.

Below is the Kings recap from the article. I think it sums the youth up nicely, except for one thing...

"2. Los Angeles Kings
2018-19 Rank: 24th
Key additions: Tobias Bjornfot (LHD), Carl Grundstrom (LW), Arthur Kaliyev (LW), Alex Turcotte (C)
Graduated: None
Traded/not signed: None

If there's only one good thing to come out of not making the playoffs for the third time in five years - amassing high picks at the draft has to be it. No team has done a better job at selecting elite offensive talent without the benefit of multiple top-10 picks than the Kings. Yes, their 2019 selection of stud three-zone center Alex Turcotte at fifth overall was their highest since taking Brayden Schenn in that same spot 10 years earlier; however, after Turcotte, the depth chart is lined with impressive kids taken either late in the first round or immediately thereafter. Slick center Rasmus Kupari was one of the top teenage point producers in the SM-Liiga, and second rounders Akil Thomas (2018) and Arthur Kaliyev (2019) were two of only nine 100-point scorers in the OHL last season. All three should be top threats for their respective nations at this year's IIHF World Junior Championship.

What makes the Kings' system stand out beyond the notable names is depth by position. Few teams have a pool with as many quality goaltenders, beginning with undrafted Cal Petersen who should start the season in the NHL and looks like a legitimate challenger to dethrone No. 1 netminder Jonathan Quick. Behind Petersen are Lukas Parik, David Hrenak and Matt Villalta who is a likely candidate to spend the upcoming season with the AHL's Ontario Reign. On defense, critics are raving about Mikey Anderson's development and first-round quality in second rounder Kale Clague and 2019 first-round pick Tobias Bjornfot with the former gunning for a top-6 spot on opening night and the latter the favorite to be Sweden's No. 1 defender at the world juniors. And although mum's the word on the health of 2017 first-rounder Gabe Vilardi, he still is one of the top playmakers among all NHL prospects."

...the only part of the overview I disagree with is the idea of Petersen replacing Quick. Petersen is absolutely ready for an NHL role in my opinion, but, if anyone should replace JQ, I believe it should be Campbell at this point. Let Petersen gain more experience by platooning the blue paint as Campbell's backup.

As the NHL article also points out, the Sporting News also listed three of the Kings young guns as Top 50 young guns in the pipeline earlier in the month:

Turcotte - #16

From NHL.com:

"A turbocharged 200-foot center who plays with physicality and acute attention to detail, Turcotte is exactly the type of pivot the Kings can lean on to help them return to Western Conference dominance. Of course, it may take some time to happen, but otherwise, it's scary to think about what this Wisconsin-bound force will do in college next year with sniper Cole Caufield as a potential linemate. Remember, this is a kid, who with the NTDP, averaged well over a point per game against elite NCAA competition last year and is now the leading candidate to center Team USA's top line at the world juniors."

Rasmus Kupari - #30

From NHL.com:

"Kupari was one of the top teenage talents in Finland's elite SM-Liiga, where he recorded 33 points in 43 games while playing mostly with Florida prospect Aleksi Heponiemi. A fantastic skater with a deadly shot, he is steadily growing into his 6-1 frame in preparation for the transition to North America. By potentially adding Turcotte and Kupari, it gives the Kings one of the league's premier 1-2 punches in terms of center prospects - although it looks like neither will be expected to make the team out of training camp."

Carl Grundstrom - #41

"A tough-as-nails winger who can impact the game with his physicality and two-way play in addition to burying the puck, Grundstrom was the key prospect the Kings acquired in the Jake Muzzin trade with Toronto at the deadline. He may not be as flashy as most of the players on this list, but his hard-nosed style and responsible play in his own end were revealed in a successful NHL stint in which he scored five goals in 15 games."

Great news for LA, especially when two of the three guys are Centers - can never underestimate strength/talent down the middle. They could have a future 1-2 punch with Turcotte and Kupari in a few years.

But Does It Work Out?

It's always exciting reading about how good your system is. It should give you a lot of hope and something to look forward to.

However, it's just the opinions of people at this point. There's little to nothing accomplished at the NHL level by these guys to cement the idea that they're the real deal.

We're in the land of hopeful speculation and that's OK. The reality is, some of these guys will develop, some won't, some will be traded out, etc. How many "can't miss," "guarantees" on their way to the NHL have there been, only for them to never really make it as advertised?

Quite a bit.

It's now up to the coaching staff to give these guys all the tools they need in order to reach their full potential. But, more importantly, it's up to the player to to be receptive to the coaching and soak in everything they can, reach down and become the best player they can be.

Can't wait for the season to start!

Go Kings Go
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