Over the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Kings have captivated us with how well they play the game of hockey at the professional level. Coming from nearly nowhere in 2011-2012, Los Angeles found life and was able to bounce not only the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, but also the tough St. Louis Blues, and then division rival Phoenix on their way to the first title in Kings history.
Well, they didn’t stop there.
In this most recent postseason, Los Angeles came out of an even deeper hole to win the Stanley Cup a second time–the second time in three years, I might add. To achieve such success, the Kings had to fight back from a 0-3 deficit in a first-round battle against the San Jose Sharks, overcome a 2-3 series deficit against the Anaheim Ducks, survive Chicago in overtime, and then go on to beat the New York Rangers in the final.
All of those series, with the exception of the Stanley Cup Finals, went the full seven games. All three of those series also required the Kings to win Game 7 on the road–and they somehow did it.
Resilience is clearly in the Kings’ playbook, so for more chances at more Stanley Cups, the team is going to have to remain strong. Stars like Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik, and Alec Martinez are signed through at least 2018, but some key pieces could open up that need to be filled shortly.
Justin Williams, who was nothing but clutch in all the Game 7 action L.A. faced in playoffs, has a contract that ends this season, is one of the big names that the Kings will have to figure out what to do with. Other big names like Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson all are free agents after this current season.
So what will the Kings do? Rebuild, of course!
Here are two prospects that the Kings should take a look at when considering options for a strong future:
1. Derek Couture
Team: Ontario Reign
Position: Right Wing
The Kings need consistency to keep their game plan in action. This season, Derek Couture is having that kind of year with L.A.’s minor league affiliate the Ontario Reign. Stacking up 17 points so far on ten goals and seven assists, opponents are just never sure what Couture will do next.
The Reign currently stand third in their Pacific Division, behind just the Bakersfield Condors and Idaho Steelheads. Thankfully, the Reign are only two games behind the Steelheads for first place, and Couture has been a big part of getting his team into this position.
With these three teams, it’s like the rivalry between the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks–so Couture would be no stranger to competition if he were to get a call to the big leagues. Winning, playing with heart, and rivalry are in Couture’s blood…I say bring him in!
2. Maxim Kitsyn
Team: Ontario Reign
Maxim Kitsyn is another prospect from the Ontario Reign that the Kings need to take a serious look at. Hailing from Russia, Kitsyn has brought his “A-game” to the Reign and it has shown in the two years that he’s been on the team.
A goal in last year’s post season and a total of 25 goals in his career so far, it’s been a matter of flicking a switch for Kitsyn to get his game going. From seeing his play at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA, his play is reminiscent of Tyler Toffoli, even though they have different positions on the ice. Tough, rigid, but victorious is Kitsyn’s style, so the only direction I see him going is up.
Assuming this season turns out anything like last year, expect to see Kitsyn on the Kings within the next year or two–ready or not, here he comes.