LOS ANGELES — The 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 24-25, was expected to be quite uneventful for the Los Angeles Kings, who did not have a pick in the first round after they traded it to the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline in the deal that brought winger Dustin Penner to the Kings.
Despite that, the Kings were more than optimistic about the prospects they were able to bring into the fold with their picks in rounds 2-7 on Saturday, June 25.
“We’re excited,” Kings Co-Director of Amateur Scouting Michael Futa told LAKings.com. “You always talk about that when you’re leaving the draft, about your excitement level, and the energy.”
“Today was a long day, especially for the first time for us, as a group, to go through yesterday without a pick—that was an eternity,” Futa added. “To be active [in the first round the last handful of years], and then to see things fall the way they did [this year], we were thrilled.”
The Kings were thrilled because, round after round, prospects they had targeted were still available when their time on the clock came.
“We were lucky enough, without being in a position to be pro-active and dictate our own fate, to have a few guys we had high on our lists fall to us at numbers that we weren’t sure were realistic,” Kings Co-Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti told Kings Communications Manager Mike Kalinowski. “In that sense, we’re happy.
“You always want to be able to move, and dictate who you get, but this is more than we hoped for,” Yanetti added, referring to the fact that butterfly-style goaltender Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was still available when their pick in the second round came up.
“I did not think that Gibson [would still be available] at 49,” said Yanetti. “Usually, those guys are going right off the bat, either late in the first [round], or early in the second. That was a surprise.”
The 6-0. 193-pound native of Karkkila, Finland was the top-ranked netminder in the QMJHL, earning a 14-15-3-5 record in 37 games, with a 2.42 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage, and four shutouts.
“I’m very excited to be an LA King,” Gibson told LAKings.com. “It was a long day yesterday, waiting for my name to be called. Unfortunately, it [wasn’t], but I’m happy that LA called me in the second round.”
Christopher Gibson, who was the second-ranked North American goaltender by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, was rated behind netminder John Gibson of the United States Under-18 Team. He was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round (39th overall).
But the Kings’ rankings differed with Central Scouting’s list.
“The Gibson kid that we started off with, we had rated as our top goaltender,” said Futa. “We’ve got good depth at that position [throughout their system], but to get the kid we had number one—clearly number one, rating him as an elite starting goalie, it was huge for us.”
“Being able to take him in the second [round], after not having a first [round pick], got the adrenaline flowing.”
The other highlight of the Kings’ 2011 draft was that they traded a sixth round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (170th overall), along with a third round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, to the Nashville Predators for the 82nd overall selection in the third round.
The Kings used that pick to select center Nicholas Shore, a 6-0, 195-pound native of Denver, Colorado.
Shore, was ranked 38th in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, but dropped to 56 in the final rankings.
“We are happy with the way things went,” Kings assistant general manager Ron Hextalll told LAKings.com. “It’s a little different from a couple of years ago when we had 15 picks and a high first [round] pick. When you look back, it was probably the most important part of the year.”
“Now we’ve got a good team,” Hextall added. “We’re looking to add pieces, and, possibly, trade draft picks, as opposed to bringing them in. The draft is always an exciting event for everybody. It’s not the main focus for us, but we’re happy with what we did.”
They may be happy, but now comes the hard part.
“The one thing about this draft is that it will be a real test to our list, because we got players that we had ranked very high,” Futa explained. “We talked about it last year, having [2010 draft pick Tyler] Toffoli rated exceptionally higher. [This draft], we got guys in spots that we had them rated much higher.”
Other Kings Draft Picks
4th Round (110th overall) – Left wing Michael Mersch, 18 years old; 6-2, 198 pounds from the University of Wisconsin; Born: Park Ridge, Illinois.
7th Round (200th overall) – Left wing Michael Schumacher, 18 years old; 6-3. 198 pounds from Frolunda HC of the SuperElit, Sweden’s top junior league.
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