Over the past few weeks, we’ve examined the likes of a wide variety of prospects “in the system” for the Los Angeles Kings. Elite-caliber names such as Gabe Vilardi, Quinton Byfield, Tobias Bjornfot, Arthur Kaliyev, and Brandt Clarke are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to L.A.’s deep and talented prospect pool. Today’s article focuses on the final “wave” of youngsters which will soon hit the ice in the City of Angels. Let’s meet each of them, shall we?
Brock Faber, Defenseman, 18
First up is a uber-talented defenseman, Faber. Born and raised in Maple Grove, Minnesota, it’s only fitting that Faber chose to ply his trade at the University of Minnesota. Drafted in the second round, 45th overall back at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he is one of L.A.’s most highly-touted blue-liners, and for good reason. Listed at 6’1″, 195 lbs, Faber is a fantastic puck-moving defenseman who loves to jump into the rush. He’s quick on his feet, sharp on his edges, and transitions from offense to defense seamlessly. He’s also a strong defender who uses his stick to his advantage to break up plays and halt attacks.
The 2020-2021 NHL campaign saw Faber skate in 27 games at Minnesota tallying one goal and 12 points. His strong, consistent play also earned him a spot on Team USA’s roster at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships inside the bubble in Edmonton Alberta. Prior to bringing home a Gold Medal, Faber skated in all seven games for the Americans to go along with five assists. How’s that for a performance to follow up your draft year? It’s safe to say this kid has a real, bright future ahead of him.
Rasmus Kupari, Center, 21
Up next is Finnish-born playmaker, Kupari. Selected in the first round, 20th overall back in 2018, Kupari is an intelligent and well-rounded centerman who loves to play the game. With the puck on his stick, he’s confident, savvy, and always has his head on a swivel. Over the past few seasons, Kupari ascribed to playing a sound two-way game down the middle of the ice. Not only is he a force offensively, but he has worked hard to hone the finer points in his defensive game. These traits, among his many others, should place him in good stead at the NHL level.
Last season saw Kupari split time with the Kings and their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate club, the Ontario Reign. After skating in seven games with the Kings, Kupari had an excellent year scoring eight goals and 23 points in 32 games played. A strong training camp should see Kupari start the season in the black, silver, and white of L.A. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Alex Turcotte, Center, 20
Not many NHL players hail from Island Lake, Illinois. Turcotte, one of Los Angeles’ most coveted prospects, is one of them. Man, do the Kings ever have themselves a talent at their disposal with their former fifth overall selection. Turcotte is a highly energetic and competitive player who loves having the puck on his stick. He possesses good speed, a surreal knack for the game, and makes plays at an elite level. Coaches rave about him because he has a real motor to him and can score goals and see the ice at an uncanny level.
Turcotte’s vision is excellent and he is a master at creating space and setting up others. Turcotte was teammates with the aforementioned Faber at the 2020 World Junior tournament. That team (which struck Gold) really was something to behold. Turcotte stands at 5’11″, 185 lbs and will need a bit of time to “fill out” at the NHL level. Nevertheless, he has a tremendously high ceiling and should be on everyone’s radar as early as next year. The sky really is the limit for one of hockey’s top prospects.
Kale Clague, Defenseman, 23
Rounding out our list is offensive-minded blue-liner Clague. Drafted in the second round, 51st overall back at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, this is a player who has patiently progressed through L.A.’s system. If he can stay healthy, all indications point towards Clague lining up in L.A. top-six next season. Clague made his NHL debut two seasons ago skating in four games for the Kings and split his time last season in both the AHL and NHL.
Last year saw Clague play 18 games in L.A. tallying six assists. With the Reign, he scored 12 points in 23 games played. At 6’0″, 175 lbs, Clague’s size certainly doesn’t leap from the page. But what the Regina, Saskatchewan native lacks in size, he certainly makes up for with his defensive awareness and maturity. He’s a good skater, confident with the puck, and loves to join the rush. The term offensive-minded defenseman is certainly an understatement for a player right on the cusp of an everyday NHL roster spot. Stay tuned, Kings fans!
Like all prospects across all professional sports, no one can really be sure how they will all pan out. However, one thing remains certain, the L.A. Kings have single-handedly composed one of the most talented prospect pools the hockey world has ever seen.
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