2023-24 NHL Prospect Pool Breakdown: Los Angeles Kings


There aren’t many real playoff contenders with solid prospect pools.

The Carolina Hurricanes are a prime example of a contending team with strong depth waiting for their chance. Many other contenders, such as Boston, Colorado, Toronto and Tampa Bay, are closer to the bottom after sacrificing the future to be competitive now.

But thanks to years of solid drafting, and tons of capital to work with, the Los Angeles Kings still are in the upper half of the league – in terms of competitiveness and future potential. It helps that they have a top-10 prospect in Brandt Clarke, and some solid options to choose from at every position. In terms of pure prospect depth, the Kings are near the top.

It’s been great seeing the team’s ability to turn drafted talent into key pieces. Anze Kopitar is one of the franchise’s greatest players, and he was taken 11th overall in 2005. Quinton Byfield, Adrian Kempe, Arthur Kaliyev, Drew Doughty, Michael Anderson, Matt Roy and Tobias Bjornfot are all players that have stayed true to the organization. Solid drafting can pay off because you have more control over development, but it also allows you to build up a portfolio of trade options. And as the Kings continue to improve, more and more of those prospects could be moved to address immediate needs.

That’s a good thing.

Biggest Strength

Is there a team with better depth than the Kings? Having Alex Turcotte, Samuel Helenius, Francesco Pinelli and Jack Hughes at center alone is great. Clarke and Jordan Spence aren’t far away from full-time duty, and other defenders are also closing in. If Erik Portillo doesn’t work in net, Hampton Slukynsky is a solid young goalie, too. So while there isn’t an abundance of high-end, game-breaking talent compared to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Kings do have options across the board. Some teams don’t have that at a single position.

Biggest Weakness

While Clarke and Spence will be able to contribute offense from the point, what about the wingers? Koehn Ziemmer is the best winger in the system. Scoring is a huge asset for him, but he needs to improve his skating at the next level. Alex Laferriere seems more like a support player at this point. Samuel Fagemo and Martin Chromiak might end up in those roles, too. It might be hard to get the high-end scoring winger in the draft as they keep moving down the order, but who knows?


Brandt Clarke (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Brandt Clarke (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Grade: B

1. Brandt Clarke, D, 20 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 8, first round in 2021

Clarke got his first taste of NHL action, skating in nine games before getting sent down for a five-game AHL conditioning stint. There wasn’t room for him to stick around in Los Angeles, but getting that experience still made more sense than dominating the OHL all year. He’d go back to Barrie, but not before helping Canada win gold at the world juniors. From there, Clarke was one of the most dominant players in the league, scoring 23 goals and 61 points in 31 regular season games and 23 points in 12 playoff games. His numbers would be great for a defenseman over an entire season, but to do it in half? That shows how good he is with the puck. He’ll fight for a spot on the Kings out of camp, but time in Ontario wouldn’t hurt, either.

2. Jordan Spence, D, 22 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 95, fourth round in 2019

Will Spence make it full-time with the Kings this year? He has nine points in 30 games to his credit, and another 87 points over two AHL seasons. The Australian-born Canadian knows how to produce, but concerns about his 5-foot-10 frame were exposed during his time with the Kings. Still, there’s undeniable talent here, and Spence does have NHL potential. He should get a chance to start with the Kings, and might even have the edge over Clarke right now, given his age and experience (and Clarke’s waiver-exempt status). So we’ll see what happens, but this will be an important year for Spence.

Jan 17, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Alex Turcotte (39) during the first period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

3. Alex Turcotte, C, 22 (Los Angeles Kings)

Drafted: No. 5, first round in 2019

It’s time ot put up or shut up for Turcotte. Expectations were high after the Kings drafted him fifth overall in 2019. But injuries have been a constant issue, and his best run in the AHL came during the 2020-21 COVID-affected season. Hindsight is 20-20, and another year in the NCAA with Wisconsin wouldn’t have hurt. He’s fine when he’s healthy, but he hasn’t played 40 games in a season in three campaigns of pro hockey. The clock is ticking, but he might still add value in a bottom-six forward role. It would be a great story if he could salvage his career.

4. Koehn Ziemmer, RW, 18 (Prince George, WHL)

Drafted: No. 78, third round in 2023

I know Jakub Dvorak was drafted ahead of Ziemmer, but I prefer the winger’s potential. Ziemmer finished with an impressive 41 goals and 89 points in 68 regular season games, with his 71 goals sitting second behind Bedard for the most among 2023 eligible players over the past two years. Ziemmer is a solid power forward that uses his strength to his advantage and should be able to carve out a decent NHL career. He’s not a great skater, but I’m confident that’ll be ironed out.

5. Francesco Pinelli, C, 20 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 42, second round in 2021

Pinelli saw his offense explode last year, scoring 41 goals and 90 points while serving as captain of the Kitchener Rangers. One of the top players on Canada’s U-18 World Championship team that won gold in 2021, Pinelli is a smart forward with a quick release and a tenacious playing style. He has good size and learned to use it in the OHL last year. The pro game is a whole other animal, but Pinelli is starting to look like a nice support player down the line.

Jakub Dvorak (Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Jakub Dvorak (Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)

6. Jakub Dvorak, D, 18 (Bílí Tygři Liberec, Czechia)

Drafted: No. 54, second round in 2023

Dvorak was also a force internationally, captaining Czechia’s U-18 team and recording three points in five games at the U-18 World Championship. Dvorak also played a handful of games with Czechia U-20 team, his first experience with the team. A big, physical defender, Dvorak stands tall at 6-foot-5 and 209 pounds. He’s mobile for his size, with quick skating and smart positional play in his own zone. But when it comes to Dvorak, it’s mostly his physical game that stands out the most, and he could play a solid third-pairing role in the NHL one day.

7. Alex Laferriere, RW, 21 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 83, third round in 2020

Laferriere had 73 points in 69 games, including 21 goals and 42 points in 34 games this year. That was good for second behind Montreal’s Sean Farrell for the team lead, and six points ahead of recently signed Calgary Flames prospect Matt Coronato. He worked well on Harvard’s top line, making up one of the more dangerous scoring units in the ECAC. His skating has improved quite a bit in recent years, and he’s much more impactful in his own zone compared to when he was drafted. Laferriere is a competitive forward who battles hard for every puck, has an excellent release and can be deceptive as a scoring winger.

8. Erik Portillo, G, 22 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 67, third round in 2019/traded to Los Angeles in 2023

With Devon Levi going through the Buffalo Sabres’ system at the same time, Portillo was the odd man out. The 6-foot-6 goaltender took a bit of a step back with the University of Michigan last year, but he was a workhorse with 80 starts over two years. Now in the Kings’ system, Portillo will spend time adjusting to pro-quality shots while sharing the net with Jacob Ingham.

Erik Portillo (Detroit Free Press)

9. Martin Chromiak, RW, 20 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 128, fifth round in 2020

Once a highly sought-after prospect during his dominant Slovakian junior days, Chromiak’s flaws started to become apparent. Sure, the skill was there, but his defensive game had holes and he was viewed too much as a passenger. That being said, Chromiak had a solid transition to the AHL with 15 goals and 28 points in 55 games and seemed to look more confident and engaged as the season went on. He has an NHL-level wrister, but he’s trending toward being a middle-six scoring forward for now.

10. Samuel Fagemo, LW/RW, 23 (Ontario, AHL)

Drafted: No. 50, second round in 2019

Time hasn’t been too kind to Fagemo, who still hasn’t managed to crack the Kings full-time. He had three points in nine NHL games last year but otherwise stayed in the AHL with Ontario. He had one of the goofiest stat lines in the NHL with 23 goals and nine assists for 32 points in 56 games. He’s a pure goal-scorer that always outscores his assist total, but he needs to be a bit more rounded if he’s going to be an impactful NHLer.

Other notables: Jack Hughes, C, 19 (Northeastern University, NCAA), Kenny Connors, C (20), Samuel Helenius, C (20), Otto Salin, D (19), Kasper Simontaival, RW, 21 (KalPa, Liiga), Matthew Mania, D (18), Jack Sparkes, D (19), Hampton Slukynsky, G (18), Cole Krygier, D (23), Tyler Madden, C (23), Akil Thomas, C (23)

Previous 2023-24 NHL Prospect Pool instalments


Discover Betano.ca – a premium Sports Betting and Online Casino experience. Offering numerous unique and dynamic betting options along with diverse digital and live casino games, Betano is where The Game Starts Now. 19+. Please play responsibly.

Recently by Steven Ellis


Laisser un commentaire