New-Look HP! Unfiltered Articles Stats Glossary Contact Us
Hockey Prospectus home

New Look Hockey Prospectus is available with new Premium Content!
Limited time offer: $9.99 for an entire year!

<< Previous Article
Top 10 Prospects (09/27)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (09/27)
No Next Column
Next Article >>
Howe and Why (10/01)

September 28, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Los Angeles Kings

by Corey Pronman

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Los Angeles Kings Top 10 Prospects

1. Tyler Toffoli, Right Wing
2. Derek Forbort, Defense
3. Nikolai Prokhorkin, Center
4. Jordan Weal, Center
5. Tanner Pearson, Left Wing
6. Jake Muzin, Defense
7. Linden Vey, Center
8. Nick Shore, Center
9. Thomas Hickey, Defense
10. Tomas Hyka, Right Wing

Organizational Ranking: 21st

System Overview: The Kings lost Voynov and Loktionov to graduations, but there's still some talent left in their system. There's a mix of high upside players with questionable projections like Forbort, Weal, and Vey on top of safer average-upside players like Pearson and Muzzin with a fine but not great headline prospect in Tyler Toffoli. With Pearson both going pro and Prokhorkin making a bid for the AHL team, there will be a lot of talent a phone call away in Manchester for the Kings.

---

1. Tyler Toffoli, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 04/24/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 186
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 65 GP, 52 G, 100 P (Ottawa-OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 47th overall in 2010 by Los Angeles

The Good: Toffoli had another giant season, missing his second straight OHL scoring title by two points. He's a very skilled player and an elite finisher. Toffoli has very good hockey sense, as he's always around the play finding ways to create chances, and he has quite impressive vision. He also has pretty good puck skills. Toffoli's shot is tremendous, which has helped him post over 50 goals in the OHL over the past two seasons. He also has a good work ethic and plays a bit of an edgy style.

The Bad: Toffoli has always been a below-average skater. His first few steps are a little bit better now, though. His defense still needs more work and he needs to get stronger.

Projection: He could be a very good second line winger. p>---

2. Derek Forbort, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 03/04/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 218
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 35 GP, 2 G, 13 P (North Dakota-WCHA)
Acquired: First round, 15th overall in 2010 by Los Angeles

The Good: Forbort is a very toolsy player with great upside. At 6'4'', he's an above-average skater, puck-handler and passer who is tremendous in those areas for a player his size. Forbort can make scouts really dream on him when he's on because he's a big man who can rush the puck, make a top level pass, and run a power play. He has a good wingspan and is a fine stick-checker.

The Bad: Forbort has always has been considered a bit of a project whose decisions and overall game needed refining. That still holds true today, although near the end of the season, Forbort showed flashes of the player scouts envisioned he could be. He needs more strength and could be more physical.

Projection: He has top pairing tools, although reaching that ceiling is quickly becoming more unlikely. p>---

3. Nikolai Prokhorkin, Center
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 09/17/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 191
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 15 GP, 9 G, 26 P (CSKA-MHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 121st overall in 2012 by Los Angeles

The Good: Prokhorkin has above-average puck skills and the same level of hockey sense, although he can flash high-end. He's a great playmaker with a pass-first mentality and regularly finds ways to set up his teammates for scoring chances. Prokhorkin is a versatile player who can play wing or center and is fine defensively, too. He's a big body player who doesn't mind some physical play and will get into the after-the-whistle stuff.

The Bad: Prokhorkin is a roughly average skater whose top gear could be a tad better. He needs to bulk up a fair amount.

Projection: He could be a good second line forward. p>---

4. Jordan Weal, Center
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 04/15/1992
Age: 20
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 197
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 70 GP, 41 G, 116 P (Regina-WHL)
Acquired: Third round, 70th overall in 2010 by Los Angeles

The Good: Weal had a tremendous season, being named a WHL first team all-star in the East and scoring over 50 more points than the next best player on Regina. He's very smart and a well above-average playmaker with top-end puck skills. His ability to create offense has been right at the top tier of the WHL for the last four seasons. Weal is a competitive player who will grind out board battles and backcheck well.

The Bad: Size is the main obstacle for Weal to overcome. He's been listed at 5'10'' on his WHL player page, but he might be a good inch or two below that. He's also just an average skater who really lacks that top gear smaller players usually have to succeed.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward. p>---

5. Tanner Pearson, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 08/10/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 60 GP, 37 G, 91 P (Barrie-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 30th overall in 2012 by Los Angeles

The Good: Pearson exploded out of seemingly nowhere to get a spot on Canada's World Junior team and ended third in OHL scoring. His hockey sense is really good, as he shows the ability to be a top of the line playmaker who sees every player on the ice and at times looks like he has eyes in the back of his head. He has a decent physical game and can protect the puck at a fine level. Pearson has average to solid hands. He could fast track to the NHL.

The Bad: Pearson's skating is his most notable weakness, as he's clearly below average in that area with a heavy first few steps.

Projection: He could be an average NHLer with a chance to play on a scoring line. p>---

6. Jake Muzzin, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 02/21/1989
Age: 23
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 213
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 71 GP, 7 G, 31 P (Manchester-AHL)
Acquired: Free agent

The Good: Muzzin is what one scout calls an "excellent skater" who just looks pretty with his movements. He's developed an offensive element to his game this year, showing better creativity as a puck-mover, joining the rush more often, and he has a good shot from the point. Muzzin has a decent physical game with a fine size and strength combo and rubs opponents off the puck well.

The Bad: Muzzin's hockey sense is somewhat questionable as he will force plays and his reads aren't always the best. There will be times he tries to do too much.

Projection: He could be a #4 defenseman. p>---

7. Linden Vey, Center
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 07/17/1991
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 173
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 74 GP, 19 G, 43 P (Manchester-AHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 96th overall in 2009 by Los Angeles

The Good: Vey is a pretty skilled player who on his best day can really bring scouts out of their seats. He has high-end hockey sense, showing the ability to make very impressive passes; it's hard to find scouts who watch him and don't talk about his hockey sense. Vey has pretty good hands and solid but not spectacular speed. He can play center and wing effectively.

The Bad: Vey needs to get a lot stronger and more accustomed to the pro level physical game. I've heard glowing reports on him from a tools standpoint, but the offensive scoring chance creation needs to happen a little more consistently to raise his value.

Projection: He has top-six upside, but with some uncertainty on that projection. p>---

8. Nick Shore, Center
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 09/26/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 43 GP, 13 G, 41 P (University of Denver-WCHA)
Acquired: Third round, 82nd overall in 2011 by Los Angeles

The Good: Shore is a pretty smart two-way forward who took a big jump forward from an offensive standpoint. He should be Denver's premier weapon next year with his brother Drew turning pro. He's a good playmaker who can show flashes of very impressive vision. Shore also has solid puck skills. His defensive awareness is pretty advanced, and while he's not a mean player, he makes defensive plays with good stick and body positioning on top of impressive anticipation.

The Bad: Shore's skating is still not that good, and while he looks better, he could use an extra step or two. He needs to bulk up a fair bit as well.

Projection: He could be a below-average second line center. p>---

9. Thomas Hickey, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: 6th
Date of birth: 02/08/1989
Age: 23
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 184
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 76 GP, 3 G, 26 P (Manchester-AHL)
Acquired: First round, fourth overall in 2007 by Los Angeles

The Good: Hickey has transformed his game from an offensive player when he was drafted, to a safe, smart defensive defenseman. He was pretty good at that this past year, earning an AHL All-Star nod. He's an above-average skater and thinker who is always in the right positioning, makes good plays in his own end with his stick, and doesn't shy from physical battles. He makes a decent first pass as well.

The Bad: The former fourth overall pick's upside is a bit of a faded dream now as he hasn't really shown in the pro level to be able to threaten offensively. His size won't help him, as while he's improved in the physical game, he's still a pretty small player.

Projection: He could be a third pairing defenseman. p>---

10. Tomas Hyka, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 03/22/1993
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 164
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 50 GP, 24 G, 64 P (Gatineau-QMJHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 171st overall in 2012 by Los Angeles

The Good: Hyka is an above-average to plus skater with a really good top gear and an impressive first few steps. He doesn't have much weight on him and the result is he can just simply fly up the ice. He has good puck possession skills, too, as he has the hands and offensive sense to make plays. Aside from his speed, Hyka's vision is his best offensive skill as he finds his teammates well. Hyka works hard and gives a good effort on the ice.

The Bad: Hyka's size is his main issue as he's a small and pretty undeveloped from a physical standpoint. Consequently, some scouts question if he can be a true producer at even strength as a pro.

Projection: He has scoring line skill, but is a project.

---

The Next Five

11. Martin Jones, Goaltender: Jones reads the play well, has a good work ethic, covers a lot of net, and moves around well. He could arguably make the jump next year, but Los Angeles has a crowded goalie situation.

12. Nicolas Deslauriers, Defense: Deslauriers is a very good skater with offensive skill, but had a rough landing in the pro game and still needs work in his own end.

13. Kevin Gravel, Defense: Gravel is a smart, mobile big man but his offensive upside is low as he's not really someone you want to try things with the puck.

14. Brandon Kozun, Right Wing: Kozun is a skilled player with a good work ethic, but he may not have enough of a ceiling to overcome his size.

15. Michael Mersch, Left Wing: Mersch is a smart player with a good physical game who can be a good net front presence. His skating needs to get better.

The Sleeper: Nick Ebert, Defense

Once touted as a potential top-10 if not a top-five pick last summer, Ebert was the very last pick of the most recent draft. He has fantastic offensive tools between his skating, hands, and shot, but his hockey sense needs to pick up and he needs to show more effort.

---

Los Angeles Kings Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Slava Voynov, Defense
2. Andrei Loktionov, Center
3. Tyler Toffoli, Right Wing
4. Derek Forbort, Defense
5. Nikolai Prokhorkin, Center
6. Jordan Weal, Center
7. Tanner Pearson, Left Wing
8. Jake Muzzin, Defense
9. Kyle Clifford, Left Wing
10. Linden Vey, Center

Voynov is a very smart two-way player who skates well, can shoot the puck, and despite not being the biggest player, his physical game is fine. He steadily got better as the season went on, and was a solid top-four defenseman for the Kings during their Cup run. I actually think Loktionov has more pure upside than Voynov, but based on NHL accomplishments, I couldn't rank him ahead. Loktionov is a fantastic talent with great speed, hands, and vision who one scout says "the sky is the limit" for despite his struggles in the NHL. I'm not a huge Clifford fan. That's not to say I think he's a bad player, but I see him as a solid, hard-working physical third line player with good defensive value at his peak.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Top 10 Prospects (09/27)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (09/27)
No Next Column
Next Article >>
Howe and Why (10/01)

RECENTLY AT HOCKEY PROSPECTUS
Annoucements: Where Are The New Articles?
Zamboni Tracks: Who's That Guy? Special Edmo...
Hall Of Fame: My 2014 HHOF Inductees
On The Horizon: Four Nations And Junior "A" ...
A Closer Look: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan Keeping...


MORE BY COREY PRONMAN
2012-10-28 - From Daigle To Datsyuk: Top 50 Under 23
2012-10-17 - From Daigle To Datsyuk: Top College Prospect...
2012-10-15 - From Daigle To Datsyuk: Analyzing Draft Sele...
2012-09-28 - Top 10 Prospects: Los Angeles Kings
2012-09-27 - Top 10 Prospects: New Jersey Devils
2012-09-24 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Rangers
2012-09-23 - From Daigle To Datsyuk: 2013 Top 30
More...

MORE TOP 10 PROSPECTS
2012-09-28 - Top 10 Prospects: Los Angeles Kings
2012-09-27 - Top 10 Prospects: New Jersey Devils
2012-09-24 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Rangers
2012-09-21 - Top 10 Prospects: Phoenix Coyotes
More...