The upcoming 2022 NHL Draft presents another opportunity for the Kings to add to an already deep prospect pool. Having improved their record and made the playoffs as the third seed in the Pacific Division this past season, the Kings will draft 19th in the first round, the team’s latest first-round draft pick since the 2018 draft.
Over the two-day event on June 7-8, to be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Kings currently hold six selections (19th, 51st, 85th, 116th, 148th, 180th). The Kings do not hold the rights to their own third-round pick (84th overall) due to the trade that acquired Viktor Arvidsson. Replacing that pick for the Kings is the rights to the Pittsburgh Penguins third-round pick (85th overall) that was part of the return from the trade that sent Jeff Carter east at the 2021 Trade Deadline. Rounding out the draft pick refresher, the Kings also do not hold a seventh-round pick as they sent that pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Troy Stecher at this past season’s trade deadline.
Before we dive into what the Kings are presumed to be looking for during the upcoming 2022 draft, we need to set the table on what the Kings already have. Over the past three to four years, the organization has been focused on stocking up in the draft, acquiring young talent for both the present and future. With now six additional picks entering the upcoming draft, the Kings will continue to add to one of the NHL’s top ranked prospect pools.
For the sake of giving you the best idea of the prospects in the Kings organization, included on this list are players who meet any of the following qualifications, listed alphabetically:
1. Any player that qualified as an NHL rookie in the 2021-22 season.
2. Any player 22 years old or younger.
*Player appeared in Kings game during 2021-22 season
Listed below as a prospect of the Kings are 30 skaters and five goalies.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (41st overall, 2017)*
Quinton Byfield (2nd overall, 2020)*
Aidan Dudas (113th overall, 2018)
Samuel Helenius (59th overall, 2021)
Rasmus Kupari (20th overall, 2018)*
Tyler Madden (68th overall, 2018 via Vancouver Canucks)
Francesco Pinelli (42nd overall, 2021)
Akil Thomas (51st overall, 2018)
Alex Turcotte (5th overall, 2019)*
Yes, the Kings have a lot of centers. But as the cliché goes, “you can never have too many centers” and it stands true. Already having the tandem of Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault both under contract through the 2023-24 season, it looks like just two center slots are open in the immediate future, with one of them likely belonging to the energetic Blake Lizotte in the fall. When the Kings drafted Quinton Byfield second overall in the 2020 draft, many experts projected that the 19-year-old centerman to quickly take on the ranks of an NHLer. Despite multiple injuries in his first two seasons, Byfield showed significant growth throughout last season with the Kings and likely won’t be going anywhere positionally as it stands. In the pipeline remains three more prospects (Anderson-Dolan, Kupari, Turcotte) who have played NHL games and are trying to find a more permanent roster spot on the Kings, with all three players also capable of playing on the wing. Yet to be mentioned are Akil Thomas, Tyler Madden and Aidan Dudas who have all played both center and wing with AHL-Ontario. Thomas and Madden were drafted with top-six potential, with Dudas being an energy forward. Further down the road sits the Kings second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Francesco Pinelli, who captained the Kitchener Rangers last season in the OHL and Samuel Helenius, the 6-6 Finn who signed with the Kings last summer and joined the Reign following the conclusion of his European season in April 2022. Helenius could begin his season next season with Ontario, while Pinelli is projected to return to the OHL, one year shy of AHL eligibility. At a glance, the center position is deep and while it may not look like there is room for potential draftees and current prospects to make their way up to the Kings, keep in mind that changing positions from center to wing is the most common and easiest transition at the forward position.
Martin Chromiak (128th overall, 2020)
Samuel Fagemo (50th overall, 2019)*
Aatu Jamsen (190th overall, 2020)
Arthur Kaliyev (33rd overall, 2019)*
Alex Laferriere (83rd overall, 2020)
Andre Lee (188th overall, 2019)
Bulat Shafigullin (82nd overall, 2018)
Kasper Simontaival (66th overall, 2020)
Johan Sodergran (165th overall, 2018)
Gabriel Vilardi (11th overall, 2017)*
Taylor Ward (Undrafted)
You need all types of wings to be a successful NHL team – goalscorers, penalty killers, role players, grinders, energizers……the list goes on, but you get the point. Looking at the talent of the Kings prospects at wing, the players combine to check many of those boxes. The past few Kings’ seasons have lacked an elite goalscorer, which is vital. Pending RFA Adrian Kempe took a big step forward in filling that role for the Kings, potting 35 goals this past season, but the organization knows it needs more. One prospect who spent this past season with the Kings, who has that has elite goalscoring potential, is Arthur Kaliyev. In a limited role to start the season, Kaliyev gained the trust of the coaching staff throughout the season and with additional ice time, the 20-year-old American recorded 14 goals. Also known for a scoring touch is Samuel Fagemo, who ranked second in goals (27) last season for the Ontario Reign, and Martin Chromiak, who tallied 86 points (44-42-86) in the OHL last season. Yet to be mentioned is 2017 first round pick and pending RFA Gabriel Vilardi who spent his time between Ontario and LA last season. In Ontario, Vilardi averaged a point-per-game over 39 games and added seven points (5-2-7) in 25 games with the Kings. With multiple prospects filing out the left and right wings, the Kings have a combination of extreme size, two-way forwards and gritty yet talented options.
Braden Doyle (157th overall)
Kirill Kirsanov (84th overall)
Ben Meehan (140th overall, 2020)
Jacob Moverare (112th, 2016)
Kim Nousiainen (119th overall, 2019)
The left-handed defensemen situation is an intriguing one to say the least. The Kings already have two young defenseman in the NHL in Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot, who are both 23 or younger and both have 100 NHL games to their name. But that doesn’t mean the prospects under them don’t have NHL potential. Closest to a full-time role in the NHL is Jacob Moverare who at times late in the season last year played ahead of Bjornfot and others. On June 15th, Moverare signed a two-year extension with the Kings which features a one-way deal in the second season. Adding to the depth on the left side is Kirill Kirsanov, who was a mainstay on SKA St. Petersburg blueline in the KHL and Kim Nousiainen, who signed his entry-level contract with the Kings in April after concluding his season in Finland. Nousiainen reported to the Ontario Reign, played in eight games and is expected to be on the blue line in Ontario cone next season. Ben Meehan and Braden Doyle are both set to play NCAA Hockey come the fall, as they continue their respective development, with potential professional debuts a bit further down the line.
Brandt Clarke (8th overall, 2021)
Sean Durzi (52nd overall, 2018 via Toronto Maple Leafs)*
Brock Faber (45th overall, 2020)
Helge Grans (35th overall, 2020)
Jordan Spence (95th overall, 2019)*
I’ll leave the argument up to the Insiders on which position is deeper – RHD or Center. What isn’t a debate is that the Kings have a lot of proven depth on the right side on of the blue line. With decisions to make going into the 2022-23 season, the Kings finished the season with five right-handed NHL defenseman on their roster (Doughty, Roy, Walker, Durzi, Spence). Not even included in that number is Brandt Clarke, the Kings 2021 first-round draft pick, who will enter the preseason eyeing a roster spot on the Kings. Clarke captained the Barrie Colts in the OHL last season and was one of just three defensemen to average over a point-per-game (59 points in 55 games). Also qualified as a prospect are two players who made unexpected NHL debuts last season and left Kings wanting more. First, Sean Durzi became an intergral part of the Kings blue line last season, playing in 64 games and recording 27 points (3-24-27). It should also be noted that Durzi quarterbacked the Kings’ power play after Drew Doughty went down midway through the season. Second is Jordan Spence, who tallied 42 points (4-38-42) in 46 AHL games with the Reign before being called up by the Kings in early March. Once called up, Spence impressed and held his own despite being undersized, fitting right in at the NHL level. Spence recorded eight points (2-6-8) in 24 regular season games and also appeared in three playoff games.
Also on the right side of the blue line are a pair of 2020 second-round draft picks. Drafted 35th overall was Helge Grans, the 6-3 Swede who made strides as a rookie for the Reign last season, recording 24 points (7-17-24) in 56 games. Drafted 45th overall was the Minnesota-born Brock Faber, who has caught the eyes of many since being drafted. This past season, Faber was awarded Big Ten Defenseman of the Year honors, beating out Owen Power, the first overall draft pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Faber also appeared for Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics as a collegiate player and is expected to return to the Unversity of Minnesota for his junior season.
David Hrenak (144th overall, 2018)
Jacob Ingham (175th overall, 2018)
Juho Markkanen (112th overall, 2020)
Lukas Parik (87th overall, 2019)
Matthew Villalta (72nd overall, 2017)
On the Kings roster currently sits Jonathan Quick, a pending unrestricted free agent after the 2022-23 season and Cal Petersen, who has a new three-year contract that begins this coming season. Behind them stands five Kings draft picks from 2017-20. Beginning with Matthew Villalta, the eldest of the bunch, the Canadian appeared in a career-high 46 games with AHL-Ontario. Villalta won 28 games, the third most in the AHL and put a stat line together of a 2.98 GAA and .903 SV%. Behind Villalta are a pair of goalies who spent time between the AHL and ECHL last season. Both Jacob Ingham and Lukas Parik spent the majority of the season in the ECHL, had a winning record in that league and also picked up their first career AHL wins with the Reign. Also included is David Hrenak, who signed his ELC with the Kings following the conclusion of the NCAA season where he left St. Cloud State University as the all-time winningest goalie and Juho Markkanen, the 2020 fourth-round selection, who is set to spend the 2022-23 season with Eisbaren Berlin in the DEL in Germany.
This article is Part 1 of a draft preview series. We’ll take a look at the Kings history picking in the middle of the first round, as well as a look around the scouting community with players projected to fall to the Kings, as well as get a sense for how the Kings are approaching this season’s draft. All to come over the next few weeks!