Los Angeles Kings defensive prospect Jacob Moverare is on the move, again. A fourth-round pick in 2016, the Swedish prospect signed his entry-level contract almost immediately after being selected. After the deal slid for two seasons while Moverare was paying for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads, the Kings felt Moverare still was not prepared for North American hockey last season. Rather than send him to AHL Ontario, the team instead loaned the young defender to the Swedish Hockey League’s Frolunda HC in the first year of his contract. Apparently, they still feel the same way. Swedish newspaper Goteborgs Posten reports that Frolunda has already received word that Moverare will re-join the team next season.
While it is not out of the ordinary to see a loan of this kind for a young foreign player, it is rare to see it done twice. Moverare will have burned two years off of his entry-level contract before ever playing in a professional game in North America, seemingly just because of L.A.’s depth in minor league defensemen. While a top-four NHL defender is one of the Kings’ most glaring needs this off-season, they do have considerable depth in fringe NHL talent. Sean Walker, Paul LaDue, and Kurtis MacDermid are all signed through next season while Matt Roy and Daniel Brickley are restricted free agents. All five of those young defensemen suited up for the Kings this season, but barring major roster changes, only two or three will win spots in L.A. to begin next season. Then there is an influx of talent from the college and junior ranks, as Mikey Anderson, Markus Phillips, and Sean Durzi will also be in play in Ontario. There simply isn’t room for Moverare to play meaningful minutes in the AHL next season, but when will there be?
Another loaned season should not be seen as an indictment of Moverare’s play. A highly productive player at the junior level, Moverare showed in the SHL last season that his pro game is likely to skew more toward the defensive strengths in his game rather than offensive. However, he could still be a very solid stay-at-home option. Moverare is a right-shot defenseman who plays a strong, competitive game and is known for his hockey IQ. At 6’3″ and 200 lbs., Moverare can hold his own defensively, but also skates well and compensates for some lacking skill with great vision and positioning. Just a victim of the numbers game for L.A., the Gotenborgs report indicates that the Kings simply feel that Moverare’s development would be better served remaining in Sweden, but another year abroad doesn’t mean that he won’t play for the Kings one day.