DRAFT COVERAGE: Frozen Royalty continues its coverage of the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft with a look at what prospects the Los Angeles Kings could be looking at when their time on the clock comes up during the first round.
LOS ANGELES — Just about every year at the National Hockey League Entry Draft, there are one or two players who stand out above all the rest, considered to be the top prizes in that year’s draft class. Indeed, the 2010 class is no exception, with forwards Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin considered to be the cream of the crop.
Hall and Seguin are locks to be selected with the first and second picks (Edmonton has the first selection and Boston owns the second overall pick) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which begins with the first round on Friday, June 25, 2010, at Staples Center in Los Angeles (4:00 PM PDT). After that, the draft is often one big crapshoot in terms who gets selected after that, and that will be the case once again this year.
Depending on what scouting report or mock draft you prefer, we could see names such as forwards Brett Connolly, Mikael Granlund, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nino Niederreiter and Southern California native Emerson Etem, along with defensemen Erik Gudbranson, Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley and Mark Pysyk, go up on the board not long after Hall’s and Seguin’s names wind up at the very top. Even a goalie such as Calvin Pickard or Jack Campbell could find themselves selected in the first round, even though goalies tend to be selected later in the draft.
Much to the delight of their fans, the Los Angeles Kings do not have a high, first round pick for a change, thanks to their sixth place finish in the Western Conference standings, qualifying them for the post-season party for the first time since 2002.
The Kings hold the 19th overall selection in this year’s draft, meaning that, barring a trade, they will be choosing the best player available is when their time on the clock comes around.
So…who are the Kings looking at for the 19th overall pick? Only Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi and his hockey operations staff knows for sure. But with his reputation for being a bit of a maverick at the draft table, there are a myriad of possibilities.
Since just about anything could happen by the time the 19th overall selection comes around, here’s a look at some of the prospects (in no particular order) who could be available when the Kings’ time on the clock comes around on Friday:
McIlrath is a 6-4, 215-pound native of Winnipeg, Manitoba who scored seven goals and added 17 assists for 24 points with 169 penalty minutes. A physical, stay-at-home defenseman, McIlrath has a definite mean streak and can drop the gloves when needed. He will need to work on his skating, quickness and puck-handling before cracking an NHL lineup, however.
Ranked 17th among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, McIlrath will not likely be the best player available when the Kings time on the clock comes around on Friday, but he could fill a need, as the Kings lack physical, stay-at-home defenseman with a mean streak in their system, outside of defenseman prospect Colten Teubert, who was selected by the Kings in the first round (13th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Ryan Johansen, Center, Portland Winterhawks, WHL
Johansen scored 25 goals and tallied 44 assists for 69 points in 71 games with the Winterhawks this past season. The 6-3, 188-pound native of Port Moody, British Columbia also played in the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game. Possessing good puck skills and ice vision, he is a skilled playmaker and has the strength and size to potentially develop into a power forward.
Johansen is ranked tenth among North American skaters by CSB, but could drop down in the draft, perhaps low enough for the Kings to get him.
Derek Forbort, Defenseman, United States Under-18 National Team Development Program (NTDP)
Forbort, a 6-5, 198-pound native of Duluth, Minnesota, scored four goals and contributed ten assists for 14 points in 26 United States Hockey League games that his NTDP team played in. Overall, Forbort scored five goals and added 23 assists for 28 points in 65 games.
Possessing a good combination of size, strength and agility, Forbort is a good decision-maker and a good passer, but needs to work on his puck-carrying skills and grit. He will attend the University of North Dakota this fall.
Ranked ninth by CSB among North American skaters, Forbort is considered to be one of the more talented defensemen in the 2010 draft class, but is expected to drop lower in the first round.
Ranked 20th among North American skaters by CSB, Galiev scored 15 goals and added 45 assists for sixty points in 67 games. In 21 playoff games, Galiev scored eight goals and tallied eleven assists for 19 points. Possessing size, speed, acceleration and solid playmaking skills, Galiev also played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects game.
Galiev has shown the ability to withstand the physical aspects of the North American game and is responsible defensively. That said, he needs to improve his strength, grit and defensive play.
Jonathon Merrill, Defenseman, U.S. NTDP
The 6-3. 198-pound native of Bighton, Michigan is a two-way blue liner who can play a physical game. In 22 USHL games, he scored a goal and added eight assists for nine points. Ranked 21st among North American skaters, Merrill also won a gold medal playing for Team USA in the Under-18 World Junior Championships.
Watson is the character-type of prospect Lombardi values highly. Good on both ends of the ice, he will take a hit to make a play, even though he is not the most highly-skilled forward.
Scoring eleven goals with 23 assists for 34 points in 42 games this past season with Windsor, Watson was traded to Peterborough, where he scored nine goals and added eleven assists for twenty points in ten games. In four playoff games, the 6-3, 187-pound native of Ann Arbor, Michigan scored two goals. Ranked 14th among North American skaters by CSB, Watson also played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects game.
Tyler Pitlick, Center, University of Minnesota – Mankato
A center with good size and offensive skills, Pitlick is known for his hands and ice vision. The 6-2, 194-pound native of Centerville, Minnesota scored eleven goals and added eight assists for 19 points in 38 games this past season, his freshman year. Ranked 18th among North American skaters, Pitlick is a solid playmaker with good hockey sense and is considered to be a pure goal scorer. Pitlick is reportedly leaving the University of Minnesota – Mankato to play for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL next season.
Brock Nelson, Center, Warroad High School, Minnesota
Yes, a high school player could find himself as a mid-to-low first round selection. Ranked 25th among North American skaters by CSB, the 6-3, 205-pound native of Minneapolis, Minnesota is a power forward with good skating ability and a hard shot. He scored 53 goals and added 42 assists for 95 points in 31 games this past season and was a finalist for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award as the state’s top high school hockey player.
Jeff Skinner, Right Wing, Kitchener Rangers, OHL
Scoring fifty goals and contributing forty assists for ninety points in 64 games this past season, the 5-10, 197-pound native of Markham, Ontario helped lead the Rangers deep into the OHL playoffs where he scored twenty goals and added 13 assists for 33 points in twenty games. He also played in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects game where he was named as Team Orr’s Player of the Game.
Skinner, who is ranked 34th among North American skaters by CSB, is a goal scorer and plays well away from the puck.
That the NHL Entry Draft is a total crapshoot after the consensus “sure-fire” prospects are up on the board is likely one of the biggest understatements in the hockey world. As such, do not be surprised to see Lombardi the maverick don his black cowboy hat, boots and his six-shooter and go completely off the board with his first round pick.
Indeed, as stated earlier, by the time the 19th overall selection comes around, anything could happen. But no matter what, the first round on Friday should be a fun ride especially for Kings fans, who will have the opportunity to experience the draft live in Los Angeles for the first time.
After the first round, the Kings have eight picks in the 2010 draft, including two picks each in the second and third rounds:
Round 2 – 49th and 59th (from Philadelphia with defenseman Denis Gauthier in exchange for defenseman Patrik Hersley and left wing Ned Lukacevic, June 1, 2008).
Round 3 – 70th (from the New York Rangers in exchange for center Brian Boyle, June 27, 2009), 79th.
Round 4 – 109th
Round 5 – 148th (from San Jose, along with their fifth round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Tampa Bay’s fourth round pick in 2008, which had been acquired previously, June 21, 2008).
Round 6 – 169th
Round 7 – 199th
The Kings also had picks in this year’s draft that were transferred to other teams via trades:
The Florida Panthers traded their third round pick (63rd overall) to the Kings in exchange for Columbus’ fourth round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and St. Louis’ fifth round pick in 2009 on June 27, 2009. The Kings later traded Florida’s third round pick along with right wing Teddy Purcell to Tampa Bay for center Jeff Halpern on March 3, 2010.
The Kings also sent defensemen Kyle Quincey and Tom Preissing, along with a fifth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (139th overall) to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for left wing Ryan Smyth on July 3, 2009.
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