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Kings of the castle

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

For the L.A. Kings, post-season experience is more valuable than another high draft pick.

The Kings are one of those limbo teams that could fall out of contention and call the name of a hot prospect come June or claw their way into a playoff spot.

While adding a future star to your ranks is always a tempting notion, the Kings as an organization would be a lot further along by getting all the youngsters currently in the lineup some playoff exposure.

The Hockey News’ annual Future Watch magazine hits shelves in early March and guess what team was adjudged to have the best corps of young players in its system?

It was the Kings, naturally, based largely on their shocking collection of skilled young blueliners.

The Kings have more than enough hope for the future; what they need now is a playoff berth to accentuate the learning curve of the young players already driving the team.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

3

39-8-7

6-1-3

Michael Ryder endures a painful interruption to his comeback year after being struck in the face with a puck. He's out indefinitely

2

5

35-11-7

5-4-1

Ty Conklin's 3-0 shutout of the Pens on Sunday is more indicative of the way the Wings want to win games

3

1

36-7-7

6-2-2

Have lost three in a row and play eight of their next 11 on the road

4

6

34-16-4

7-2-1

Brent Johnson's injury could be the excuse needed to go find a goalie

5

2

33-17-3

8-2-0

Patrik Elias is on pace for 92 points, the most since he posted 96 in 2000-01

6

8

29-14-8

5-4-1

One goal in 18 games for Patrick Kane

7

12

26-19-7

8-2-0

They're movin' on up and it looks like Sean Avery is being moved on out for half the price of his contract

8

4

30-18-4

4-6-0

Four-game losing streak is the first real sign of trouble since November

9

9

28-15-9

5-5-0

Antero Niittymaki's continued hot play means it'll be interesting to see how many more taps he gets down the stretch

10

13

28-20-6

6-3-1

Drew Stafford staying hot would help take the sting out of losing Thomas Vanek for a month with a broken jaw

11

10

25-19-8

5-3-2

Nine of their next 11 games are against teams they're looking up at in the East playoff race

12

14

27-24-5

5-5-0

Chris Pronger trade rumors feel legit; how good would he look on the Caps?

13

16

27-22-5

6-4-0

Tuomo Ruutu is on pace for 24 goals and, more importantly for the oft-injured Finn, 79 games played

14

7

29-19-5

5-4-1

Only Nashville and Ottawa average fewer goals per game than the Blueshirts

15

19

27-22-3

6-4-0

Ten months after shattering his leg, Kurtis Foster has been assigned for a rehab stint in the American League

16

11

29-18-6

3-7-0

Going out on the road for 10 of their next 13; will they still be in the playoffs when they get back?

17

25

23-21-7

6-3-1

Jonathan Quick has the Kings going with a 6-1 record over his past seven starts

18

22

25-25-3

5-5-0

There's a chance nobody on this team reaches 60 points this year

19

15

25-23-5

4-5-1

Do the Jackets' playoff hopes go on the shelf with Steve Mason going on the IR?

20

20

26-24-5

5-4-1

Maybe they should just roll the dice on Marian Gaborik because Minnesota doesn't have much leverage in trading the always-injured, unrestricted free agent to be

21

29

24-20-8

2-5-3

Through all the ups and downs, you still get the feeling no team would be crazy about seeing the Canucks in Round 1

22

21

18-24-11

5-4-1

It's downright dangerous to be a defenseman in Tampa right now, where blueliners are dropping like flies

23

17

26-23-4

5-4-1

Lots of talk that Erik Cole's brief tenure in Edmonton will end with a trade before the March 4 deadline

24

18

24-25-5

3-7-0

Dropping six straight isn't the way to nose into the post-season

25

24

20-24-9

4-3-3

Great to see 19-year-old Luke Schenn get his first NHL goal; he's going to be a tough lynchpin on the Leafs blueline for a long time

26

26

18-25-8

4-4-2

Sens are forechecking more under new coach Cory Clouston

27

23

22-24-6

6-1-3

Chris Mason has taken the No. 1 mantle from Manny Legace

28

27

25-27-1

3-7-0

If they're going to push for the playoffs, the Avs have to start taking advantage of the schedule's soft touches

29

30

18-31-5

4-6-0

If the Thrashers traded Ilya Kovalchuk and added that haul to a high pick this year, they'd have the basis of something solid very soon considering Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian are already on the scene

30

28

16-31-5

4-5-1

Nineteen-year-old rookie Josh Bailey continuing his apprenticeship, has four points in past five games

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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