The Los Angeles Kings are a team with a good crop of prospects – both in the NHL and the AHL.
With that said, one organization can never have too many prospects.
With the 2023 NHL Draft July 7-8 from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Kings have one issue to try and find a solution to.
That issue is goaltending depth.
This year, the Kings lost their first-round pick in the trade that sent goaltender Jonathan Quick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Unless general manager Rob Blake trades up, the Kings’ draft portion will not begin until round 2. The Kings have picks in rounds 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
The goaltending depth is an issue, as most of the prospects in that position have not panned out. With plenty of picks in this year’s draft, Blake should use one or two picks to use on goaltending prospects.
This year’s draft is forward-heavy, and there may be a premium on the goaltending position since there are few in the draft. Blake will have to be selective in his goaltender choices or maybe trade up into the first round.
Two of the premier prospects at the position in this year’s draft in Central Scouting are Carson Bjarnason and Alexander Hellenemo.
Bjarnason is the top-rated north american goaltender, while Hellnemo is the top-rated for the European side.
Bjarnason is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. Playing last season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, he had a solid season but had stints where he, and the team, could have been better.
Bjarnason played 47 games with Wheat Kings, posting a record of 21-19-6 with a 3.08 GAA and a .900 save percentage with 3 shutouts. He could be a good depth between the pipes for Los Angeles.
Hellnemo is a Swedish goaltender who could be had by the Kings if they trade up. Not a lot of goaltenders in this draft, but Hellnemo is more polished than Bjarnason. Hellnemo is 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds and played last season for Skelleftia Jr. in the Sweden Jr. league.
Last season, he played 23 games, posting a record of 15-8 with a GAA of 2.32 and a save percentage of .916 with two shutouts. The better of the top-ranked goaltenders, the Kings should take a long, hard look at him if he is still there in the second round if they do not trade up.