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07-26-2011, 12:07 AM
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King'sPawn
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KP's top 20 Kings' Prospects, a fluff article

Just thought I'd share this little piece that I wrote, since we're still waiting on news of Doughty's signing. We're also waiting on news of Hockey's Future to make the next article of the top 20 Kings prospects. So, I figured I'd compare the two basic bits of news into an appropriate article that I think points to the overall direction of the team. So... I know I already talked about development camp and a lot of this seems redundant, but I'm hoping this adds a little bit to it. Either way, I hope you all enjoy!
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For quite a while, I have been a strong proponent that the Kings need to take a particular direction to build a foundation for the team. Some call this “tanking” others call it “sucking.” Whatever you want to call it, it involves the team performing at a level where, for a short period of time, they can acquire a couple high picks to build around. This also allows the youngsters to mature into better players. The time is now for their attention to shift to depth players within the organization.

For the past few years, I have watched a variety of Kings prospects within the organization, and watched many mature and grow in that time. I’ve also seen a variety of them fizzle out and fade into obscurity. Unfortunately, not many of these players are expected to become NHLers; the ones who do, however, may one day be the depth necessary to build a championship team.

I have, after a combination of viewings, readings, and shared observations, compiled a top 20 list of Kings’ prospects. They are ranked as a combination of potential and likelihood of reaching that potential. I have further tried to compare them to another NHL player in terms of style of play; bear in mind I also tried to compare the players to NHLers of similar size and nationality. I also tried to avoid comparing to Kings’ players, in particular, with the hope of avoiding fandom from clouding my judgment. I also avoided comparing players to hall of famers, because while this is strictly a style comparison, people have a tendency to get more excited about “the next Bobby Orr” when, in fact, there’s still a slim chance of these prospects even making the NHL.

1. Andrei Loktionov – Cerebral center has a challenging task of earning himself a top six role behind Kopitar and Richards. He plays a fairly unflashy, not explosive style of game, but still has several tools that allow him and his line mates to succeed. He would have a higher chance at playing regularly in the NHL if he shows more success in the wing position.
Comparable: Cory Stillman

2. Tyler Toffoli – Steady sniper exploded last year with league leading 57 goals in 68 games. His skating has been his biggest obstacle, but he’s reportedly shown greater commitment to improving that dynamic in his game. He, too, is a cerebral type player, and while it’s not on the same level of Loktionov, he has good instincts in the offensive zone that allow him to be in the right place at the right time.
Comparable: Brad Boyes

3. Viacheslav Voinov – This young defenseman can play with a bit of an edge, but has a good offensive touch and can skate wonderfully. He has medals from international play at various ages, has played a couple seasons in the AHL, and is now knocking on Alec Martinez’s door for a chance to be a regular mainstay in the NHL.
Comparable: James Wisniewski

4. Derek Forbort – Tremendously raw defenseman has shown a lot of improvement in just one year’s time. He skates very gracefully for a man his size, and distributes the puck exceptionally. Will likely be given more responsibility now that he’s no longer a freshman, and he has a great developmental advantage of playing for a premier NCAA team.
Comparable: Brent Burns

5. Nicolas Deslauriers – In terms of pure skill, Deslauriers is among the best out of his fellow peers sharing the prospect status. He skates, controls the puck, and distributes the puck in every way at an exceptional level. He supplements this talent with a willingness to show a bit of a mean streak, when the chance arises. What holds him back most has been some of his decision making, but some added experience against tougher competition should assist in that development.
Comparable: Dan Boyle

6. Linden Vey – He is the player who, to me, just makes the most out of a modest package, and finds success from his continuous charisma and work ethic. He seemingly has a great attitude and charisma about him, and while he doesn’t boast elite talent or exceptional hockey sense, he puts what he does have together to be conscientious at both ends of the ice. He has a slim chance of making the NHL this season, but he’d be better off giving himself a year in the AHL to adjust to the speed of the game and the strength of much tougher competition.
Comparison: Justin Williams

7. Jake Muzzin – Young upstart managed to steal a spot in the starting line-up from training camp last year. He was subsequently sent down, but he took the demotion as an opportunity to improve his overall game and to learn the importance of fitness to the professionals. As a result, he came to development camp as the overall most complete defenseman on both sides of the puck. He’s another player who will be fighting for the #6 spot as a regular mainstay in the NHL this year, and playing with proficiency in offense, defense, and a bit of an edge will definitely give him a respectable chance.
Comparison: Willie Mitchell

8. Thomas Hickey – People have mistakenly labeled Hickey as a bust because he hasn’t played regular minutes in the NHL as a top 4 pick. Unfortunately, his development was stunted a bit by injury, but putting aside the expectations of a 4th overall pick, Hickey is progressing along nicely. He has grown a bit and added weight to his frame. He plays diligently in his own zone, skates very well, and can distribute the puck. He’s not going to punish a player physically, but he could develop to be a very skilled two way defenseman.
Comparison: Toni Lydman

9. Martin Jones – He’s an undrafted goaltender who boasts a very good size and covers a lot of net. He’s a communicator, and considering the fact he was paired with Gibson in development camp to help his colleague, he’s also a mentor. He does falter from having his mental lapses, and occasional cheating from fundamentals, but he could be very hard to score against when you combine his size and athletic ability. His biggest obstacle from getting to the next level is simply the fact he has two quality goaltenders on the Kings right now; when the time comes, though, he is almost guaranteed a chance at the next level to compete.
Comparison: Jimmy Howard

10. Nick Shore – Arguably the best pure playmaker among the prospects. He showed chemistry with fellow newcomers to the organization, and while he always found a way to put the puck on their stick, he also shows good instincts in terms of when to shoot. Will also benefit long term from playing in a solid NCAA program, where hopefully the fewer games played will give him more time to work out and get stronger, as his instincts are already there. Comparison: Loui Eriksson

11. Michael Schumacher – This kid is huge, and he’s only 17 years old (missing the cut off date for being 2012 draft eligible by one day). He looks like he’s at a good starting weight for someone his age, and he’ll be incredibly dangerous if he adds muscle to his already imposing frame. He skates very well for his size, and makes strong plays with the puck (particularly when he’s within 10 feet of the net). He shows commitment to the defensive side of things. The best thing that can happen to him already has: he’s going to play in the CHL next season, where he’ll play more games against arguably tougher competition and he can adjust to the North American game. He will be the steal of the draft if he adds muscle and really wants to play in the NHL. Comparison: Johan Franzen

12. Brandon Kozun – Diminutive winger is actually among the favorites to secure a third line winger spot (especially with the recent departure of Holloway to Sweden). He plays with such a gritty intensity, and it’s hard to dislike the guy. Combine that with his offensive skills and speed and he can quickly become a fan favorite if he makes it in the NHL. His biggest obstacle is obviously his size, but he’ll also learn very quickly that he won’t be able to cause as much havoc in the offensive end with his speed, as the defenders are a lot more composed. Comparison: Nathan Gerbe

13. J-F Berube – Athletic goaltender shows solid fundamentals, and overall gives him the best chance at stopping all the shots he should be stopping. He looks like he’s added some weight to his previously slight frame. He backstopped his team to the 2nd round of the QMJHL finals, and with that season completed, he will now likely get his first professional season in the ECHL where he can develop some consistency and shot anticipation to his game. Comparison: Corey Crawford

14. Maxim Kitsyn – Enigmatic left winger has one of the most awkward skating strides when moving along the ice, but the goals he scores doesn’t require a whole lot of skating, either. He scores most of his goals in the “dirty” areas, sitting in front of the net where he’s willing to take punishment if it allows him to chip in a goal. To play that type of game, he’ll have to improve his strength exponentially as he spends his next two years in the KHL. If he arises out of the men’s league with more muscle, he has a good chance of becoming Los Angeles’ favorite garbage man.
Comparison: Ryan Smyth

15. Jordan Weal – Shifty winger shows tremendous acceleration and speed in every direction. His smaller size makes it hard for him to be a consistent threat in the NHL, and it doesn’t afford him to play a very physical type of game. However, if you have a fast player to draw opponents away coupled with his solid playmaking ability, you have a player with good potential to be a successful NHLer.
Comparison: Sergei Samsonov

16. Bud Holloway – Fan favorite in Manchester, who also dedicated himself to the community, Holloway broke the hearts of many when he decided to relocate to Sweden for the year. Sweden is going to enjoy a solid two way player who plays a gritty game and can score the clutch goals. If he remained in the US, he was among the favorites to nab a third line winger role, doing all the subtle things that help a team win, even if he doesn’t put up all the points. Comparison: Chris Drury

17. Christopher Gibson – Gibson is a very talented goalie who put up some great numbers despite lacking fundamentals. He was paired with Martin Jones in development camp, who basically encouraged him the importance of sticking with the lessons taught to him. He has some of the fastest arms and hands, ranging from his exceptionally quick glove to managing to (luckily) stop a shot by flicking the shaft of his goalie stick out. He makes saves he has no business making, while sometimes missing out on saves he should have made. He also has a very calm disposition that is reminiscent of Jonathan Bernier.
Comparison: Antero Niittymaki

18. Joel Lowry – Gritty two-way forward whose largest question mark is simply the competition he played against. He put up good numbers in the BCHL, but now he’ll be playing against bigger and stronger players in the NCAA. Given his style of play, he needs to add a good amount of weight to be effective, while at the same time not sacrificing his respectable speed. The late bloomer does show good decision making with the puck, but now his instincts will be put to the test as he progresses through the levels of difficulty with less time to think.
Comparison: Tyler Kennedy

19. Robbie Czarnik – He’s a dangerous package of skill and creativity that, unfortunately, needs to start adding more if he wants to be an NHL player. He put up decent numbers in the OHL, but did it as an over-ager. He has the most dangerous shot and puck handling abilities in this prospect class, but now will have to start applying those tools more consistently, while showing stronger dedication of play away from the puck, if he wants to make it to the next level.
Comparison: Brian Rolston

20. Michael Mersch – Another potential power forward in the making, Michael Mersch shows the gritty dedication to score the dirty goals, is willing to play physically along the boards, and has already improved his questionable skating to have strong strides with the puck. His biggest obstacle at this point is his decision making, with and without the puck. He only seems most comfortable with the puck when he has a shot, but hopefully he can gain some confidence as he goes to a great NCAA school at the University of Wisconsin.
Comparison: Ryane Clowe

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07-26-2011, 12:20 AM
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Johnny Utah
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I would add Andre Andreoff to that list. Already 20 years old he is 6'-1" 205 lbs. Has a 15-1-3 fight record in juniors and scored 33 goals in only 66 games last year.

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07-26-2011, 12:22 AM
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Schumacher is far too high to me.

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07-26-2011, 12:39 AM
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Wow, great job on this! Things like this is the reason why I visit this site so much. Insightful posts by knowledgeable people.

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07-26-2011, 01:06 AM
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I would add Andre Andreoff to that list. Already 20 years old he is 6'-1" 205 lbs. Has a 15-1-3 fight record in juniors and scored 33 goals in only 66 games last year.
Andreoff's numbers, while decent, are against a class of players younger than him. I understand the excitement of having a player like him in the organization, and just because he's on the list, doesn't mean I think lowly of him. I just think the players ranked above him either have a higher potential/higher likelihood of reaching it.

You'll notice my list doesn't have fighters/enforcers or defensive defenseman, and both types of players do have a place in the NHL. However, I just don't think there's a whole lot of potential for them to become a great impact player in the league. I think all the players above, due to their multiple facets to the game, have more to offer if they make the NHL.

Either way, Andreoff, as most of the prospects, can be argued onto the list in one way or another. I'd love to have the discussion if you wanted to make a list as well; myself, I thought long and hard about having Andreoff the only 2011 draftee not to make the list, but from what I saw, I wasn't terribly impressed with him. He definitely wasn't close to the same level as Clifford, who was two years younger and did the same role.

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Originally Posted by cnshockey View Post
Schumacher is far too high to me.
I know that's the biggest "shock" but for someone his size and his ability, I think he'll make people turn their heads next year. But, I also understand why people wouldn't expect much of him, being a 7th rounder and all.

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Originally Posted by GoKingsGoo View Post
Wow, great job on this! Things like this is the reason why I visit this site so much. Insightful posts by knowledgeable people.
Thank you I really enjoy talking about all this, and I always think it's great when people share their observations when we're not able to follow these prospects. I hope this further encourages them, and you, to share what you think!

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07-26-2011, 02:35 AM
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cnshockey
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Forgot to say that besides the Schumacher I think its a good list. Kevin Gravel doesn't get any love but I have a feeling the guy will turn into a Scuds/Mitchell type shutdown dman.

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07-26-2011, 04:51 AM
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Schumacher is far too high to me.
I think the reason he's so high is because of his age.

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07-26-2011, 04:56 AM
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Really like the list. IMO Gibson is ranked ahead of Berube, and Kozun up a few spots

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07-26-2011, 07:57 AM
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Good job and insight! My comparisons based on similar criteria

Loktionov-Nylander
Voynov-Zhitnik
Forbort- Ryan Whitney
Deslauriers-Kronwall
Vey- MacArthur
Muzzin-Bieksa
Hickey-Sekera
Jones-M Smith
Shore- B Morrisson
Kitsyn-Frolov
Holloway- Jannik Hansen

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07-26-2011, 08:43 AM
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Am I the only one who sees Kitsyn as the next Robitaille?

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07-26-2011, 12:03 PM
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Awesome write-up ... thanks. My biggest surprise surrounded Forbort. Is he seen to be as offensive as a Burns, and as nK followed up with a Ryan Whitney? I viewed Forbort, as opposed to Muzzin, as a player who would put up Willie Mitchell type offensive numbers (i.e. low). Does he have something of an offensive upside?

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07-26-2011, 12:49 PM
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I'm glad you have Hickey at #8. So many posters on this board have him as a bust, it's ridiculous. He'll be at least a top 4 and hopefully, a top pairing before his career is over.

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07-26-2011, 12:51 PM
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Julius Caesar Milan
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Originally Posted by Johnny Utah View Post
I would add Andre Andreoff to that list. Already 20 years old he is 6'-1" 205 lbs. Has a 15-1-3 fight record in juniors and scored 33 goals in only 66 games last year.
Andre Andreoff is not yet as cool as his name. Once he is, we can start talking top 20.

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07-26-2011, 01:28 PM
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Brad Doty
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Am I the only one who sees Kitsyn as the next Robitaille?
Yes. Kitsyn is Russian

But no, loppy skater but gets to where he needs to go...hands of gold around the net...I can see it. Hope he keeps developing nicely!

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07-26-2011, 01:34 PM
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Also, nice list, KP. I like that you attempted comparables. I really liked the Voinov-Wisniewski and Hickey-Lydman comparisons. Not sure about Loktionov-Stillman one; I see more of a Datsyuk, or, if you dislike the usual Datsyuk comparison, maybe more of a Ray Whitney. I think he's much shiftier than Stillman.

Thanks for taking a chunk out of the summer!

Bold on Schumacher, but I've never seen him play, so I can't really speculate TOO much on that. I will say, though, I had no idea he was so young, so good work making a case for him there!

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07-26-2011, 04:09 PM
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Am I the only one who sees Kitsyn as the next Robitaille?
Yes. If Kitsyn scores 10 goals in the NHL, I'll be happy. He was a 6th round pick and a big gamble. We'll see how he turns out in 2 years.

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07-26-2011, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by nK View Post
Good job and insight! My comparisons based on similar criteria

Loktionov-Nylander
Voynov-Zhitnik
Forbort- Ryan Whitney
Deslauriers-Kronwall
Vey- MacArthur
Muzzin-Bieksa
Hickey-Sekera
Jones-M Smith
Shore- B Morrisson
Kitsyn-Frolov
Holloway- Jannik Hansen
I like a lot of your comparisons, particularly for Loktionov, Vey, Voynov, Muzzin, and Shore. Solid comparisons!

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Originally Posted by Capn Brown View Post
Am I the only one who sees Kitsyn as the next Robitaille?
I avoided hall of famers on purpose; even so, I just think a player like Smyth or Holmstrom, who score most of their goals in the "dirty" areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bateman View Post
Awesome write-up ... thanks. My biggest surprise surrounded Forbort. Is he seen to be as offensive as a Burns, and as nK followed up with a Ryan Whitney? I viewed Forbort, as opposed to Muzzin, as a player who would put up Willie Mitchell type offensive numbers (i.e. low). Does he have something of an offensive upside?
I think people have said he could be a Pronger type of player, who can put up some impressive numbers for a guy his size. I don't think he's nearly as mean as Pronger; but he makes some of the most incredible passes, both as breakout passes and in the offensive zone.

Quote:
Also, nice list, KP. I like that you attempted comparables. I really liked the Voinov-Wisniewski and Hickey-Lydman comparisons. Not sure about Loktionov-Stillman one; I see more of a Datsyuk, or, if you dislike the usual Datsyuk comparison, maybe more of a Ray Whitney. I think he's much shiftier than Stillman.

Thanks for taking a chunk out of the summer!

Bold on Schumacher, but I've never seen him play, so I can't really speculate TOO much on that. I will say, though, I had no idea he was so young, so good work making a case for him there!
Thank you for the feedback! Maybe it's just me, but I don't think Loktionov relies on shiftiness and dekes as much as Datsyuk and Whitney. To me, he just seems to find success from using his smarts, which is why I think my comparison is a little more appropriate.

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Yes. If Kitsyn scores 10 goals in the NHL, I'll be happy. He was a 6th round pick and a big gamble. We'll see how he turns out in 2 years.
Don't you think it's a bit of a stretch to call a 6th round pick a big gamble?

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07-26-2011, 08:52 PM
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Don't you think it's a bit of a stretch to call a 6th round pick a big gamble?
Err I meant more of a risk. He's a low risk (6th round), high reward guy.

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07-26-2011, 09:25 PM
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Err I meant more of a risk. He's a low risk (6th round), high reward guy.
I gotcha.

Either way, I agree that the next couple years will be very telling about him.

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07-26-2011, 09:32 PM
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I gotcha.

Either way, I agree that the next couple years will be very telling about him.
I'm really upset that he's going to be spending the next 2 years in the KHL but at least he's expressed the fact that he wants to play in the NHL. To be honest I won't be worried at all about how he does over there because NA hockey is such a different game. I just hope in 2 years the money the KHL can offer doesn't entice him too much to stay.

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07-26-2011, 11:58 PM
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Boy where to begin with this list. Top 5 is ok, probably some changes could be made, but looks alright. Vey at 6 is extremely questionable. Putting up big numbers in the WHL this year was not as impressive as years past. The league was extremely watered down, with few really good quality defence corps. Played on a run and gun Med Hat team who had multiple 9 and 10 goals games! Also did not make the World Junior team as a 19 year old. All in all I guess it goes to show that just because someone has a lot of posts to there name does not make you any kind of strong talent evaluator, because you sir are way way way off.


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07-27-2011, 12:17 AM
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Boy where to begin with this list. Top 5 is ok, probably some changes could be made, but looks alright. Vey at 6 is extremely questionable. Putting up big numbers in the WHL this year was not as impressive as years past. The league was extremely watered down, with few really good quality defence corps. Played on a run and gun Med Hat team who had multiple 9 and 10 goals games! Also did not make the World Junior team as a 19 year old.
And it's my opinion he's a solid prospect. You can dispute the numbers he put up, but he was one of the top scorers in the entire CHL.


Quote:
There is no way that the Kings organization sees him as a more polished prospect than a player like Brandon Kozun, who you put behind Michael Schumacher and Nick Shore! You must be watching a different game than I am, because thats ludicrous. Aside from credentials, which Kozun has far more, watching the game itself should point out whos a stronger player. Its also funny to me how you say when it comes to Weal that his speed will draw opponents away but with Kozun his speed will be reduced when it comes to the next level seems somewhat contradictory to me, but alas.
To begin with, I'm not making the post trying to say who the Kings organization think is a more polished prospect. My list is based on potential and likelihood to reach it. I think Schumacher and Shore have very high potential. I think Kozun's buzzsaw style of play is fun to watch, and he's a talented player. I just don't think he will have as big of an impact at the NHL level.

As for Weal vs. Kozun in terms of drawing opponents away, Weal can skate in different directions and is deceptive with his speed to make the plays happen. Kozun skates with a lot more intensity, but thrives more in creating havoc against lesser opposition. You can use a change in direction to draw opponents away, Kozun relies on raw speed, which I don't think will be as effective. That's just me.

Quote:
Berube is coming off major hip surgery, yet you have him ahead of far more advanced prospects in our system.
It was corrective surgery; he was at Toyota Sports Center during development camp and walking around just fine. He has a solid technique who needs to fill out his frame. He may not have the gamebreaking abilities that others have, but he's improved quite a bit over the years.

Quote:
I think you lose major credibility when you state that Czarnik has the best combined package of shot and stick-handling abilities in our entire prospect class! Ridiculous.
I think he does. He can control the puck and snipe it like nobody's business. If there's someone else you think has a better combined package of puck control and shot, feel free to share it.

Quote:
All in all I guess it goes to show that just because someone has a lot of posts to there name does not make you any kind of strong talent evaluator, because you sir are way way way off.
And I may be. This is still a learning experience from me, but I've taken the time to share my observations, some of it based on years of watching these prospects play in various situations, for fellow Kings fans to enjoy and discuss. If you want to make your own list and share your own thoughts, then I'm sure everyone here would appreciate it.

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07-30-2011, 04:55 PM
  #23
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I appreciate the write ups and your incite on these boys. We all know these boards can be rough with opinion.

I would have like to hear your thoughts on the tough guys though. I hope the Red Baron can become something close to Cliff and play the fourth line.

Wondering if Vey has a chance to play a top six role someday. Outside of TT, I dont see another skilled forward, who's north of six foot, who can play on the top two lines.

Team really needs to draft forwards and it's becoming a sore point.

Might be tough to predict, but between Hersch and Lowry, who do you think makes the team?

Thanks.

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07-30-2011, 09:58 PM
  #24
Capn Brown
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Originally Posted by McSorley 33 View Post
I hope the Red Baron can become something close to Cliff and play the fourth line.

I must have missed something. Which guy is the Red Baron?

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07-30-2011, 11:13 PM
  #25
McSorley 33
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Originally Posted by Capn Brown View Post
I must have missed something. Which guy is the Red Baron?
I noticed someone called Andreoff the Red Baron on hockeyfights website under his fight clips and thought it was a sweet name; they seem to call him double AA though.

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