DRAFT COVERAGE: Although the Los Angeles Kings will select last in the first round of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft, they still have to make this draft count for something by finding a player or two who will make it to the NHL to stay a few years down the road. Also, the Kings and the NHL have announced their 2012-12 regular season schedule.
LOS ANGELES — On the eve of the first round of the 2012 National Hockey League Entry Draft (Friday, June 22, 2012, 4:00 PM PDT in Pittsburgh), the big question is what the Edmonton Oilers will do with the first overall pick.
Will they select right wing Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League, the top prospect in this year’s draft? Will they go off the board, so to speak, to shore up their blue line corps, which is their biggest weakness, or will they trade the pick to bring in a seasoned, impact player?
If they decide to improve on the blue line through the draft, do not be surprised to see them select Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League, Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL, Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL, Olli Maatta of the London Knights of the OHL, or Matthew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, also in the WHL.
As of this writing, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini seems to be set on keeping the pick. But especially on draft day (and the days immediately prior), anything is possible, so stay tuned.
As for the Los Angeles Kings, for the first time in franchise history, not only are they stuck with the 30th overall pick, the final pick in the first round, but neither they, nor their fans, care one bit.
That is one of the consequences of winning the Stanley Cup, so it certainly is an easy sacrifice to make.
This year, the Kings have the following picks:
First Round – 30th
Second Round – none
Third Round – none
Fourth Round – 121st
Fifth Round – 151st
Sixth Round – 171st, 181st
Seventh Round – 183rd, 211th
Kings Draft Notes:
- Although the Columbus Blue Jackets have the option of taking the Kings’ first round pick this year, as part of the trade that brought forward Jeff Carter to the Kings (in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick), they are expected to choose to take the Kings’ first round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft instead, gambling that the pick will be higher than in this year’s draft.
- The Kings’ second round pick (61st overall) went to the Philadelphia Flyers in the June 23, 2011 trade that also sent forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn to the Flyers in exchange for center Mike Richards and the rights to forward Rob Bordson (who was not signed by the Kings).
- The Flyers went on to trade the pick to the Dallas Stars.
- One of the Kings’ third round selections (66th overall), which was originally acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 26, 2010, in exchange for a third round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, went to the Nashville Predators on June 25, 2011, in exchange for a third round selection (Nick Shore), and a sixth round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
- Their other third round pick (91st overall) went to the Oilers, along with defenseman Colten Teubert, and a first round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on February 28, 2011, in exchange for left wing Dustin Penner.
- The Kings acquired an additional sixth round pick (171st overall) from the Flyers, along with forward Stefan Legein, in exchange for future considerations, on October 12, 2011.
- The Kings acquired a seventh round pick in this year’s draft, along with center Colin Fraser, from Edmonton, in exchange for left wing Ryan Smyth, on June 26, 2011.
With a first round pick that low in a draft that is said to be rather weak, it will be that much more difficult for Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi to come up with the two players he has repeatedly said that a team must come up with in each draft that will become serviceable (or better) NHL players.
As he usually does, Lombardi is likely to go after the best player available when his time on the clock comes up. That said, the Kings’ weak point in their system is on the wings, and if wingers are available, they might go after prospects such as:
Tanner Pearson (Barrie Colts, OHL)
Nicolas Kerdiles (USA Under-18 program, USHL)
Danile Zharkov (Belleville Bulls, OHL)
Chandler Stephenson (Regina Pats, WHL; also plays center)
Nikita Gusev (CSKA 2, Russian Juniors)
Evgeni Krutikov (Spartak 2, Russian Juniors)
Henri Ikonen, Kalpa Jr., Finland Juniors)
Jeremy Rotevall (Timra, Sweden)
Nathan Walker (Vitkovice Jr., Czech Republic)
Scot Kosmachuk (Guelph Storm, OHL)
Samuel Kurker (St. John’s Prep, Massachusetts)
Tobias Tomkvist (Rogle Jr., Sweden)
Joel Vermin (Bern, Switzerland)
Whatever the case may be, unless the Kings get awfully lucky, and whomever they wind up with is a diamond in the rough, they will not get a player who will come right in and make an immediate impact. Instead, the idea will be to get at least a couple of players in this year’s draft who will become full-time NHL players anywhere from two to four years down the road.
In other news, the Kings and the NHL announced their 2012-13 regular season schedule, pending potential labor strife this summer that could result in a lockout of the players…again.
Assuming that peace between NHL owners and the National Hockey League Players Association prevails, which is a dicey assumption, at best, the Kings will raise their first Stanley Cup Championship banner at their home opener on October 12, 2012.
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