Fighting to eventually win two Stanley Cups is worth the cost of taking risks, but the Los Angeles Kings’ farm system has seen consequences from regular trade deadline moves.
Jewels From the Crown took a look at how much shallower the Kings’ prospect pool has become, something that seems clearer after the very clear graduations of scorers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.
That said, there are still a couple prime-age players looking to make a dent on the NHL roster, including forward Jordan Weal.
It’s about that time for Weal. The 23-year-old was a third-rounder (70th overall) back in 2010, and he’s shown a solid knack for putting up points at the AHL level.
After scoring 70 points for the Manchester Monarchs in 2013-14, he nearly matched that output last season with 69 points. He really took off during the 2015 Calder Cup playoffs, scoring 22 points in 19 postseason games.
Weal thinks he has what it takes to take the next step, as NHL.com noted during his strong AHL playoff run.
“They have a great team up there and it’s really a great organization,” Weal said. “I can’t ask for more. They’ve given me lots of opportunity to play pro and get drafted and I think I’m ready to take the next step and play with them. But you never know. It’s tough to crack a team like that.”
Unlike Nick Shore and Andy Andreoff, Weal has yet to get his first taste of NHL action. The 2015-16 season represents his best chance to change that, especially after a strong finish with the Monarchs.
The Los Angeles Kings announced the signings of five restricted free agents on Thursday: Nick Shore (to a two-year deal), Jordan Weal (one), Andrew Crescenzi (one), Nic Dowd (one) and Vincent LoVerde (two).
Shore and Weal (pictured) are the two players to watch most closely.
Shore, 23, brings decent size to the table and already managed seven points in 34 regular season games last season. He’s “currently penciled in as the third-line center for the Kings” next season, according to Mayor’s Manor.
Shore can also be sent down to the AHL via waivers, which is worth considering if he suffers from a slow start or a rough season in general. Mayor’s Manor points out that Weal, also 23, would need to pass through waivers.
Weal was the MVP of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs after tying for the league lead with 22 postseason points. He’ll likely get a strong chance to earn a depth spot with Los Angeles in 2015-16.
Crescenzi, 22, is a big forward acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs back in 2014. Dowd, 25, put up solid AHL numbers during the Manchester Monarchs’ playoff run. LoVerde, 26, is an undrafted free agent with plenty of AHL experience.
After losing back-to-back games against Minnesota and Chicago, Los Angeles needed a win tonight against Edmonton. The Kings achieved that in 20 minutes. The remainder of the game was just for fun.
Los Angeles earned a 8-2 victory over Edmonton.
Every single Kings forward recorded at least a point with the lone exception of Nick Shore. Every Los Angeles player had a plus-one rating or better aside from Trevor Lewis, Dustin Brown, and Jarret Stoll. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Anton Lander were the only Oilers players to finish the contest with a plus/minus rating that wasn’t minus-one or lower.
Ben Scrivens got the start for Edmonton, turning aside 16 of 21 shots before being taken out of the contest. Already down 5-1 through 40 minutes, 23-year-old goaltender Tyler Bunz, who has played in just eight career AHL games, was asked to make his NHL debut against the defending Stanley Cup champions on a night where they were both hungry and clicking.
That went about as well as expected.
The idle Winnipeg Jets dropped their last two games and thanks to that the Kings’ victory tonight was enough for them to jump into the second Wild Card spot. Both squads have 90 points in 77 games, but Los Angeles has a comfortable lead in the tiebreaker ROW.
Winnipeg will have to wait until Saturday’s game against Vancouver for its chance to respond.
The Los Angeles Kings locked up one of their prized youngsters on Thursday, agreeing to terms with rookie forward Tanner Pearson on a two-year deal.
Per Sportsnet, the contract is worth $2.8 million for an average annual cap hit of $1.4M, which is nearly double what Pearson made on his entry-level deal.
All told, it’s a pretty good arrangement for both the club and player. Pearson, 22, was L.A.’s first-round pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and rose to prominence during last year’s Cup run on “That 70s Line” with Jeff Carter and fellow youngster Tyler Toffoli.
This year, Pearson got off to a great start — he was October’s rookie of the month — and racked up 12 goals in 42 games before suffering a broken ankle in early January. (He’s currently out of the lineup and isn’t expected back until the playoffs… if the Kings make it.)
With Pearson now signed, Kings GM Dean Lombardi will turn his attention to Toffoli and the club’s other pending RFAs: Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff and goalie Martin Jones.
The Los Angeles Kings have tweaked their lines ahead of tonight’s contest versus the Coyotes, with hopes of getting some goals from a few more of their forwards.
“We’ve got guys who haven’t scored in 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 or 15 games, whatever it is, and some of them have had zero scoring opportunities for the last five as individuals,” coach Darryl Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider.
Sutter didn’t name names, but winger Dustin Brown has gone without a goal in his last 11 games, while winger Dwight King has gone goalless in 13.
This morning, Brown was skating on the first line with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, while King was on the third line with Nick Shore and Justin Williams. The second line had Trevor Lewis, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli, with Kyle Clifford, Andy Andreoff, and Jordan Nolan comprising the fourth.
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