Dom Lunardo | April 28th, 2020
Los Angeles, California. The City of Angels. The current home of Lebron (aka King James and the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. The last few years have seen the transition of the L.A. Kings into a team that’s building for the future. A far cry from their “glory years”, Los Angeles is turning the page. They are making headway for a new (and improved) era on the ice.
After winning the Stanley Cup in both 2012 and 2014, the Kings have fallen on some tough times over the past few seasons. Players such as Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, and Jonathan Quick, who were key cogs in the Kings’ cup triumphs, are making way for a new crop of youngsters in L.A. Many “in the know” across the National Hockey League would “peg” the Kings’ prospect pool as the deepest and most talented in the show. Let’s take a comprehensive look at their top-3 young guns and what makes Los Angeles’ prospects the ultimate “Kings of the NHL”.
Number 3: Gabe Vilardi, Center, Los Angeles Kings (NHL)/Ontario Reign (AHL)
Canadian-born centerman, Gabe Vilardi starts us off at number three. The Windsor, Ontario native can be described as a lethal two-way centerman, with stickhandling and elite puck skills. Vilardi is intelligent and has a really strong understanding of the game, which makes him one of the most prominent prospects across the NHL. A 200-foot threat, Vilardi is going to be a welcome addition to the Kings roster on a fulltime basis as early as next year alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe upfront in L.A.
This season split between the Kings and Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League (AHL), Vilardi tallied 12 goals and 20 assists in 42 games played. His continued development at the AHL-level has been music to the ears of Kings’ general manager, Rob Blake, and all indications point towards Vilardi having a lot of success in the NHL. The former 11th overall, a first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Vilardi is all but ready to rock at the Staples Center in L.A.
Number 2: Arthur Kaliyev, Left-Wing, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Next up is talented left-winger, Arthur Kaliyev. At the tender age of 18, the 6’2, 190-pound phenom is already turning heads as one of the most coveted prospects in the Kings organization. Blessed with talent and vision beyond his year, Kaliyev has a heavy wrist shot and a release that is sure to fool goaltenders once he makes the jump to the pros. This season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey league (OHL), Kaliyev had a monster campaign including 44 goals and 98 points.
He was also a standout for Team USA during the 2020 IIHL World Junior Tournament scoring 4 goal and two assists in five games played for the Americans. What’s perhaps most impressive about Kaliyev is his ability to make space for himself and his teammates and find the open seam for a quality attempts at goal. Kalieyv has superior vision and is excellent in front of the goal, which should bode well at the NHL level. This kid is something special and should be donning the bank and silver of Los Angeles as early as the fall.
Number 1: Alex Turcotte, Center, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Alex Turcotte out of the University of Wisconsin takes the honors as the undisputed top prospect in Los Angeles. Selected in the first round, 5th overall during last season’s NHL Entry Draft, Turcotte is an impressive skater who sees and reads the game at an elite level. At just 19 years of age, Turcotte plays a complete, 200-foot game and can score goals almost at will. He is an excellent skater, strong on his feet, and can beat opponents one on one with a high level of skill, wit, and work ethic.
Listed at just 5’11, Turcotte has good hands in and around the net and is exciting to watch. He’s flashy, shifty, and has a real flair for the dramatic. Rob Blake and his staff have been in complete “awe” of Turcotte, who scored 26 points in 29 games this season for the Badgers Turcotte also appeared in Team USA’s lineup in the World Junior Tournament. The higher the stakes and tempo, the more Turcotte will thrive and further make his mark on the game. Kings fans should be licking their chops at the thought of Turcotte, Kaliyev, and Vilardi, amongst others who are deemed for success in the National hockey league. The future is very bright in the City of Angels.
Honorable Mentions: F Akil Thomas, F Rasmus Kupari
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