Los Angeles Kings Prospects: Brian O’Neill


There are three weeks until training camp begins and the Los Angeles Kings roster rounds out. There are still a few questions about the Kings – who will fit in where and how new faces will gel with a team that has been built, primarily, from within. And one of the most exciting things will be to see new and young talent given a shot at the NHL.

There has been a lot of talk about a few players from the Monarchs who could slide into a NHL role – Jordan Weal and Derek Forbort. Jordan Weal is a fast, offensive-minded center who has put up lots of points everywhere he’s played. There’s no doubt this kid is NHL ready. And Derek Forbort is a solid, two-way defenseman that the Kings have put much energy into developing. He is another that is NHL ready.

But one player in the Kings organization has, seemingly, been overlooked at every corner. He’s been with the team for a number of years and risen to the top of the scoring charts.

That player is Brian O’Neill.

The Manchester Monarchs celebrate as the 2015 Calder Cup Champions. Brian O’Neill (#23) on the left toward the bottom. (photo credit: LA Kings Insider)

Brian O’Neill is a key reason why the Monarchs won the AHL championship last season. Just look at some of the awards he won last season:

– AHL MVP (Les Cunningham Trophy)
– AHL Top Scorer (John Sollenberger Trophy)
– Calder Cup Champion
– AHL most + / –
– AHL most assists

That’s quite the list! Especially for a guy you never hear about. He slides under the radar as one of the top prospects in the league. He had an impressive college career before going undrafted as well. He played for Yale and was one of their top scorers for 3 of 4 years.

So what’s the hang up? Why has he gone unnoticed for so many years? Honestly, I’m not real sure. The only thing that pops out as you look at his profile is his size. He’s listed at 5’9″ and 172 lbs. That’s pretty small for a NHL player. But as I’ve talked about before, it seems that things are changing related to size in the NHL. There are more and more top players who are listed at 5’10” or smaller. I think of the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Tyler Johnson. These guys might be the exception to the rule, but I do believe the NHL is moving towards a smaller, faster style game where those big 6’5″ immobile power forwards have less of an impact as they once did.

One has to wonder if O’Neill will crack a spot in the opening day lineup. There is definitely a hole to fill at the center position for the Kings and I’d bet either Jordan Weal or Brian O’Neill gets it. Let’s hope it doesn’t taint a great friendship they’ve developed as champs while in Manchester together.

Next: Los Angeles Kings: The Robyn Regehr Effect

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