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The Future Is Bright for the Los Angeles Kings

Already owning the top-ranked prospect pool in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings went into the Draft Lottery with the chance to add another high-end talent. The Los Angeles Kings had a 9.5% chance at getting the first pick in this year’s draft. They didn’t bring home the top spot, but they were lucky enough to secure the second overall pick.

Its all but guaranteed that Alexis Lafrenière will be the first player chosen. With that pick locked in, the Los Angeles Kings are in a great position to add top/elite-level talent to their elite prospect pool. A prospect pool that includes Centers Alex Turcotte, Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, and Akil Thomas. Along with wingers Arthur Kaliyev, Samuel Fagemo, and Carl Grundström, The Kings have a stacked forwards group. Their defensive crew is a little lackluster, but they still have a couple of exciting players in Tobias Björnfot and Kale Clague.

The Top Options

The Kings are in a great spot this year. They have the chance to add an elite talent, but they also have a great trade chip. Trading out of the second overall spot could bring a sweet return. It’s a deep draft, adding more picks isn’t a terrible option. Focusing on the players first, The Kings have a few options to look into. The obvious name is Quinton Byfield.

Quinton Byfield, C Sudbury Wolves OHL

Image via OHL Images

As long as Lafrenière has been locked in at the first overall pick, Byfield has been the clear number two. The big 17-year-old, 6’4″ & 214lbs, stepped in the OHL and immediately made an impact. Scoring 29 goals and 61 points, in 64 games, Byfield won the OHL Rookie of the Year. He followed up his fantastic rookie season with an even more dominant one. This past season, Byfield had 32 goals with 50 assists for 82 points in 45 games.

A couple notes on Byfield by Steven Ellis of SmahtScouting.com

The first thing you’ll notice with Byfield is that he can be physically dominant when he needs to. Dating back to his youth hockey days, Byfield looked like a mature man that could handle older, tougher competition thanks to his strength with and without the puck. But while many bigger kids have to rely on size to be fully effective, Byfield doesn’t. When he isn’t throwing big hits or shielding the puck away from attackers, he’s focused on getting pucks on net, something he had no issue achieving as Sudbury’s top scorer.

Defensively, Byfield’s strong skating allows him to get back into the battle and he has the reach to poke the puck out of danger. He isn’t afraid to block shots, but his confidence in his own game and his determination to help his teammates out is special.” 

Tim Stützle, C/LW Adler Mannheim DEL

Image via Canadian Press

Recently, Stützle has climbed the rankings and has been discussed as an option for the second overall pick. The 18-year-old German forward spent last season competing in the Deutsche Eishockey Ligations (DEL), Germany’s top men’s hockey league. Playing in 41 games this season, Stützle had seven goals and 27 assists for 34 points. The totals don’t jump out as much as Byfield’s, but you need to factor in the level of competition. The DEL is a men’s league. The OHL is a major junior league with the ages of players ranging from 16-21.

Stützle had a good showing at the U18 World Juniors, putting up nine points in five games, and followed that up with five points in five games at the U20 World Juniors tournament. Getting to see him play at the international level helped put his numbers into perspective.

A couple notes on Stützle by Corey Pronman of The Athletic

Stützle is a very skilled and creative offensive player. The skill, combined with his great skating, is why NHL teams are so excited about him because of the plays he can make at the NHL pace.

“Stützle may not be the biggest or strongest, and his frame was certainly not the same level of the rest at the DEL level, but he won battles because of his skating and his work ethic to dig pucks out. That aspect stood out to me when I saw him live in a game in Germany where I expected him to be physically overwhelmed by the level.”

“Stützle is a high-end skater and his game is full of pace. He will have the ability to lead a rush at the NHL level and create controlled zone entries due to his speed and skill. He showed no issue transitioning to the pro level and excelling at the world juniors because of the quickness in his game.”

Jamie Drysdale, D Erie Otters OHL

Image via Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Kings are flush with forward talent in their prospect pool, it’s unlikely take a defensemen with the second overall pick. But if they were to trade back, Drysdale could be their target. Drysdale is the top defenseman for many prospect scouts. He played in 49 games with the Otters this year, amassing nine goals and 47 points. A lot of credit for his play can be attributed to his skating ability. He is one of the best skaters in this draft class that has great on-ice vision. He should be a top 5-7 pick in this upcoming draft, a spot the Kings could trade back to.

A couple of notes on Drysdale by Corey Pronman of The Athletic.

“His elite skating in combination with his brain allows Drysdale to be a real threat offensively. He can lead a rush with speed and pressure teams that way, but his ability to skate around, avoid checkers and find teammates is something that will help him create offense in the NHL.”

“Drysdale is one of the best skaters in the draft and projects to be a top-tier skater in the NHL. His stride generates a ton of power and, combined with his quick-twitch feet, allows him to be an explosive skater.”

“Drysdale isn’t a very flashy offensive player, not something you ideally want to hear about a 5-foot-11 player. His skill isn’t going to pop. He is a great passer, though, who makes a ton of high-level feeds in both ends of the ice.”

Which Way Will They Go?

Having the opportunity to pick in the top three of this draft class could be monumental to the future of a franchise. This draft class has been regarded as one of the best in the last 20 years. Top 15 ranked players in this year’s draft could be in the top five in other years. The idea of trading back to acquire more picks is a real option. But in the end, the Los Angeles Kings are likely to grab one of Byfield or Stützle at this year’s draft. I believe that Quinton Byfield will be the latest edition to the best prospect pool in the NHL.

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