Here we are again. Another season of LA Kings hockey draws near, and fans are enthusiastic about what lies ahead. Much of that excitement stems from a few talented young prospects from the Kings’ pipeline starting to emerge in the NHL.
Now that a new campaign approaches, many will look for new prospects to keep their eyes on. And there are plenty to choose from.
For this project, I only included players in the rankings that still maintained their “rookie” status. According to the NHL, to be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie.
If you’ve read my rankings in the past, you know they’re of the top ten variety, and I’ll be publishing a similar style for this year. But since the Kings have a wealth of talent in the pipeline, I thought I’d mention a few other players just outside my top ten rankings.
Francesco Pinelli – 19 y/o – F – 2021 Round 2 #42 overall
Francesco Pinelli is a playmaker. He sees the ice very well and always seems to know where his teammates are at any given moment. Standing at 6’1″, he likes to emulate his game after Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin. While he may not have the size Geno possesses, we see a lot of the same skill.
After a summer of success at Development Camp and the Rookie Faceoff with the LA Kings, Pinelli is now back in the OHL, playing his second season as captain for the Kitchener Rangers. I fully expect Francesco to build off his first year in juniors, where he finished with 22 goals and 38 assists in 55 games for Kitchener, and continue to be one of the top point producers in that league.
Jacob Moverare – 24 y/o – D – 2016 Round 4 #112 overall
Jacob Moverare was the toughest player to leave out of my top ten rankings. He’s not the flashiest of players, but he knows his role, and he sticks to it. The simple plays he makes that may go unnoticed to some caught the attention of Kings’ management and eventually earned him a significant role with the NHL club last season, appearing in 19 games for LA.
Jacob Moverare dishes a stretch pass to Trevor Moore (6) who roofs it backhand from a tight angle.
— LA Royalty (@LARoyalty1967) January 30, 2022
I expect Moverare to get in more games with the Kings this coming season. Besides Tobias Bjornfot, Moverare is the best option on the left side if any substitutions are needed in place of starters Mikey Anderson, Alex Edler, or the versatile Sean Walker. With the waiver situation the way it is right now for LA, he should be among the 23 players on the roster come October 11.
Matt Villalta – 23 y/o – G – 2017 Round 3 #72 overall
There have been a lot of talks lately over the LA Kings’ organizational depth or lack thereof at the goaltending position. Some worry the team not grabbing a blue-chip goalie prospect in the draft will come back to bite them. But I still hold out hope for the tenders currently in the system. And one of those puck stoppers is Matt Villalta.
It’s been an up-and-down few seasons in the AHL with the Reign for Villata. Last year, however, we started to see the Kings’ third-rounder from 2017 come into his own, posting a 28-10-10 record with a 2.98 GAA and a .903 Sv%.
This could be the year we see the third-round pick in 2017 make his NHL debut with the Kings. A good few games from Matty V would put many of those goalie concerns to rest in LA.
Tyler Madden – 22 y/o – F – 2018 Round 3 #68 overall
There aren’t many players among the Kings’ prospects that possess the skill Tyler Madden brings to the ice. Any chance he gets, he’ll try to pull off some dirty dangle or one-on-one maneuver to manufacture a scoring chance.
Though he may be an excellent offensive player, Madden will need to develop a more all-around game. And show that he can be a leader for a young Ontario Reign squad this coming AHL season.
Tyler Madden scores his 12th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1! #Reign
Assisted by Spence (27) pic.twitter.com/tjfUjMDmWx
— Eric (@kingsgifs2) February 12, 2022
Coming over in the Tyler Toffoli trade with the Vancouver Canucks, Madden has the pedigree to be a middle-six player in the NHL, much like his father, John. If he can build on his strength with the puck and defensive zone coverage, we could see a breakout season in the AHL for the young forward out of Northeastern.
Aatu Jämsen – 20 y/o – F – 2020 Round 7 #190 overall
It’s challenging to generate hype around a player when you’re a seventh-round draft pick, but after a good showing at Development Camp and two goals at the Rookie Faceoff in San Jose, Jämsen is now on Kings fans’ radar. Like Pinelli, Aatu has sneaky size at 6’1″ and uses it well. He’s strong in the corners and has a good hockey sense to find the open areas on the ice to get himself in position for a scoring opportunity.
My All-Tournament Team for the LA Kings:
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) September 20, 2022
Jämsen is now back in Finland, playing in the senior Finnish league Liiga with the Pelicans. This will be his second year playing in Liiga. Look for him to build off his professional rookie season with another strong campaign and possibly make the move to North America next year.