Seven Kings Prospects Battling for Championships at NCAA and CHL Levels

As the Kings find themselves one win away from clinching their third consecutive Stanley Cup playoff berth, the 33rd playoff appearance in franchise history, many of the organization’s top prospects have already earned the right to play in their league’s postseason. Currently with five prospects competing in postseason play in Canada and a pair of college student-athletes about to drop the puck in the 2024 Frozen Four, success has followed the potential future Kings.

2024 NCAA Division 1 Frozen Four
Of the three that entered, two Kings prospects have made their way through the first two rounds of the 2024 NCAA Division 1 Tournament and have reached the Frozen Four. Taking place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the Minnesota Wild, the semifinals are set for Thursday, April 11th and the National Championship for Saturday, April 13th.

The semifinal matchups are set and the top three seeds entering the tournament are still alive. Thursday’s games will begin with the #2 Boston University Terriers and the #3 Denver University Pioneers facing off at 2:00 PM on ESPN2, followed by the #1 Boston College Eagles going up against the University of Michigan Wolverines at 5:30 PM, also on ESPN2.

It’ll be the first game on Thursday that Kings fans will want to watch as both of the organization’s remaining prospects in the tournament are going to be featured. Guaranteed to have one prospect in Saturday’s National Championship game, Jared Wright of Denver and Jack Hughes of BU will go head-to-head.

Hughes and BU have eased through the first two games in the tournament with matching 6-3 victories over RIT and the University of Minnesota. With a 29-8-2 record entering the Frozen Four, the Terriers now sit just two wins away from their sixth National Championship. Hughes comes into St. Paul coming off of his best statistical season. Now a junior, Hughes is in his first season at Boston University after having transferred from Northeastern University after two seasons. The 2022 second-round draft pick has notched 18 points (7-11-18) in 37 games this season and has been a constant on the Terriers second line. Hughes is a +2 in the two tournament games and has recorded three shots on goal.

Hughes’ opponent, Denver, features his 2022 draft classmate Wright. Unlike BU, third-seeded Denver has played two tightly contested 2-1 games. Denver’s first 2-1 victory came over UMass-Amherst and Wright’s and Hughes’ draft classmate Kenny Connors in double overtime. After the nailbiter, Denver then defeated Cornell University in regulation by the same score despite being outshot 25-18. Just two victories away from hoisting the National Championship, Denver is seeking to take sole possession of the most championships in NCAA history by passing the University of Michigan, who also has nine and is in the other semifinal game. Wright, the 6-foot-2, 176-pound Minnesota native enters the tournament as a sophomore having doubled his point total from his previous season. Having notched 24 points (14-10=24) in 40 games this season, Wright’s 14 goals ranked fifth on Pioneers and was a six-goal uptick from his freshman season. Wright has recorded five shots on goal and is a -1 in the two tournament games.

Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

CHL Playoffs
The path to the Memorial Cup runs through three different leagues – the OHL, WHL and QMJHL. The Kings have prospects in all three leagues that won their first-round series and get underway in Round 2 starting at the end of the week.

Western Hockey League (WHL) Playoffs
The pursuit for The Ed Chynoweth Cup and a bid to the Memorial Cup

The Kings have two prospects in the second round of the WHL playoffs, both with a good chance to make deep runs.

Beginning with the Western Conference’s top seeded team, forward Koehn Ziemmer and the Prince George Cougars breezed through their first-round series with a sweep over the eight-seeded Spokane Chiefs. Outscoring their opponents 20-9 over the four games, the next foe in the way of the Cougars pursuit for a championship is the fifth-seeded Kelowna Rockets. Ziemmer, the Kings 2023 third-round selection has had tough season due to injury, but is back in action here in the playoffs. Ziemmer started his 2023-24 campaign with an strong showing in the Kings 2023 Training Camp, followed by a dazzling start to his WHL season with 31 points (11-20-31) in his first 20 games. Ziemmer’s head-turning few months of play earned him a three-year entry-level contract when he signed with the Kings on November 18, 2023. Just nine days later, Ziemmer suffered a significant lower-body injury and missed three-plus months and 40-plus games. He returned to play on March 17th and suited up for three regular season games before entering the playoffs. Ziemmer recorded three points (1-2-3) in the first round of the playoffs and goes into Friday’s Game 1 of the second round healthy and ready to take his game to another level.

The second LA prospect in the WHL playoffs is their top selection in the 2023 NHL Draft, Jakub Dvorak. The 6-foot-5, 203-pound defenseman from Czechia crossed the pond midway into the 2023-24 season and signed with the Eastern Conference’s Swift Current Broncos. Dvorak played in 21 regular season games for the Broncos but missed a month of gameplay due to an injury in March. Like his draft classmate Ziemmer, the second-round selection Dvorak also returned late in the regular season, playing two games before entering the playoffs. In total, Dvorak notched 10 points (2-8-10) and was an impressive +19 in regular-season play. The Broncos also swept their first-round opponent, the seventh-seeded Lethbridge Hurricanes, and are now set to play the third-seeded Moose Jaw Warriors. Game 1 will also take leave on Friday, April 12th.

Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Playoffs
The pursuit for The Ross Robertson Cup and a bid to the Memorial Cup.

A pair of additional Kings prospects have made it through the first round of the OHL playoffs and are getting ready to drop the puck tomorrow, Thursday, April 11th.

The Kings 2023 fifth-round selection Matthew Mania and his fifth-seeded Sudbury Wolves upset the fourth-seeded Mississauga Steelheads in the first round and have moved onto facing second-seeded North Bay Battalion in OHL’s Eastern Conference playoffs. Defeating the Steelheads 4-1 in the seven-game series, Mania contributed with a pair of points (1-1-2) across the five games. The 19-year-old, 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman recorded 23 points (4-19-23) and was a +4 in 45 games during the regular season. The Wolves begin their round two matchup against the Battalion at 4:00 PM tomorrow.

Sitting on the Western Conference side of the OHL’s playoff bracket is the 6-foot-6, 221-pound Kaleb Lawrence. Since being acquired in the middle of the season by the conference’s top team – the London Knights – the power forward has been a physical and offensive threat. Posting 19 points (10-9-19) with the Knights, Lawrence helped his new team to a 24-3-3 record the rest of the regular season. Lawrence posted four points (3-1-4) during the first-round sweep of the Flint Firebirds and will play host to the fourth-seeded Kitchener Rangers tomorrow at 4:00 PM. Since joining the Knights, Lawrence and his new team are 4-0-1 against their round-two opponent.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)
The pursuit for The Gilles-Courteau Trophy and a bid to the Memorial Cup

The Kings’ final prospect in the CHL playoffs is 2022 fourth-round pick Angus Booth. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound defenseman from Montreal, Quebec was the Kings’ third selection in 2022 and he’s helped Baie-Comeau Drakkar into the league’s second round. Like Lawrence, Booth was a midseason pickup and joined the top team in the league via trade. In 30 games with Drakkar, Booth posted 13 points (1-12-13) and was an impressive +23. Booth and Drakkar swept the eight-seeded Charlottetown Islanders with ease, out-scoring their opponent 20-6 across the four games. Booth contributed with a goal and was a +3 in the first round. Drakkar’s round two opponent is the seventh-seeded Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Friday, April 12th at 4:00 p.m.

Photo by Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images

Seven Kings prospects, all vying for championships at the amateur level. As the Kings and Ontario Reign vye towards their own push in the postseason, worth keeping an eye on those who will be here soon enough.

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