LOS ANGELES — Whether it is defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts (Ontario Hockey League), center Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs (OHL), center Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice (Western Hockey League), or center Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) who winds up as the first overall selection in the 2014 National Hockey League Draft, unless some way-out-of-left-field trade happens, the Los Angeles Kings will not be adding that player to the fold, or any of the top prospects, for that matter.
Indeed, that is the price of success. After winning the Stanley Cup on June 13, the Kings move all the way down to 29th in the first round of the thirty-team draft. The only reason they did not move to 30th is because of the sanctions handed down to the New Jersey Devils for salary cap circumvention when they signed forward Ilya Kovalchuk—the Devils will pick last in the first round instead of 11th.
The Kings have nine picks in the 2014 NHL Draft, which begins late this afternoon with the first round at 4:00 PM PDT (televised on NBCSN in the United States; TSN and RDS in Canada). Rounds 2-7 will be held on June 28, starting at 7:00 AM PDT (televised on the NHL Network):
- First Round: 29th
- Second Round: 60th
- Third Round: 90th
- Fourth Round: 120th
- Fifth Round: 150th
- Sixth Round: 157th (from the Carolina Hurricanes); 180th
- Seventh Round: 209th (from the New York Rangers); 210th
Kings Draft Notes
- The Kings are one of five teams with nine picks in the 2014 NHL Draft.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets received the 63rd overall selection (third round) from the Kings, who acquired the pick from the Edmonton Oilers on January 15, 2014, in exchange for goaltender Ben Scrivens.
- In the sixth round, the Kings’ 157th overall pick was part of the trade that sent right wing Kevin Westgarth to the Hurricanes on January 13, 2013, in exchange for forward Anthony Stewart, a fourth round selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, and a sixth round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft (this pick).
- The Kings received a seventh round pick (209th) in the 2014 NHL Draft from the Rangers in exchange for forward Daniel Carcillo on January 4, 2014.
Kings Draft Outlook
As reported earlier, with their first pick not until the tail end of the first round, unless President/General Manager Dean Lombardi has his sights set on someone and trades up to get that player, which is considered unlikely, the Kings are already out of the running for the top prospects available in this year’s draft. However, picking so late in the first round did not stop the Kings from landing left wing Tanner Pearson with the 30th overall selection (first round) in the 2012 NHL Draft. He quickly moved up the depth chart and was a significant contributor to the Kings’ run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship.
Lombardi and his amateur scouting staff also have quite the knack for late-round success at the draft. In fact, Lombardi and his staff have selected five players after the second round during Lombardi’s tenure who have played a significant number of games and/or made significant contributions at the NHL level:
- Jeff Zatkoff, goaltender (fourth round, 74th overall, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Alec Martinez, defenseman (fourth round, 95th overall; Kings)
- Dwight King, left wing (fourth round, 109th overall; Kings)
- Andrei Loktionov, center (fifth round, 123rd overall; now with Carolina)
- Jordan Nolan (seventh round, 186th overall; Kings)
Indeed, in eight draft classes, Lombardi and his amateur scouting staff have found five diamonds in the rough. That is an extraordinary accomplishment that says a great deal about their drafting and development, and even more about why the Kings have won the Stanley Cup twice in the last three seasons.
Furthermore, since Lombardi joined the Kings in April 2006, the Kings have had at least one home-grown prospect make an impact at the NHL level in every draft class through 2010:
- Jonathan Bernier, goaltender (first round, 11th overall; now with the Toronto Maple Leafs)
- Trevor Lewis, forward (first round, 17th overall; Kings)
- Thomas Hickey, defenseman (first round, fourth overall; now with the New York Islanders)
- Wayne Simmonds, right wing (second round, 61st overall; now with the Philadelphia Flyers)
- Alec Martinez
- Dwight King
- Drew Doughty, defenseman (first round, second overall; Kings)
- Slava Voynov, defenseman (second round, 32nd overall; Kings)
- Brayden Schenn, center (first round, fifth overall; now with the Philadelphia Flyers)
- Kyle Clifford, left wing (second round, 35th overall; Kings)
- Nicolas Deslauriers, defenseman/left wing (third round, 84th overall); now with the Buffalo Sabres)
- Jordan Nolan
- Tyler Toffoli, right wing (second round, 47th overall; Kings)
In short, Lombardi and his amateur scouts have enjoyed tremendous success at the draft and in their subsequent development of their young prospects. But who do they have their eyes on for the 2014 NHL Draft?
One thing you can forget about immediately is drafting based on need. Indeed, Lombardi has established a track record of selecting the best player available, regardless of position, when their time on the clock comes around, and if the situation presents itself, he might even make a deal to move lower in the draft if he believes that the player they want will still be available. That way, he can stockpile more draft picks and maybe even move them into the 2015 NHL Draft.
That said, the big question is: Who will the Kings select with the 29th overall pick in the first round?
Here are some possible targets who stand a good chance of still being available when the 29th pick comes around (in no particular order):
- Roland McKeown, defenseman; 6-1, 192 pounds. Right shot. Kingston Frontenacs, OHL.
- Vladislav Kamenev, center; 6-0, 185 pounds Left shot. Magnitogorsk, Russian Junior League.
- Ryan MacInnis, left wing; 6-3, 185 pounds. Kitchener Rangers, OHL.
- Conner Bleackley, center/right wing; 6-0, 197 pounds, right shot. Red Deer Rebels, WHL.
- Travis Sanheim, defenseman; 6-3, 181 pounds, left shot. Calgary Hitmen, WHL
- Adrian Kempe, left wing; 6-2, 187 pounds. Modo, Sweden
- Thatcher Demko, goaltender; 6-3, 192 pounds, Boston College, Hockey East.
- John Quenneville, center; 6-1, 195 pounds. Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL.
- Brandon Lemieux, left wing; 6-1, 209 pounds. Barrie Colts, OHL.
- Alex Nedeljkovic, goaltender; 6-0, 184 pounds. Plymouth Whalers, OHL.
Of course, Lombardi also has a reputation of being quite the maverick at the NHL Draft, and could go way off the board at any time, selecting a prospect that no one expects, something he has done several times since joining the Kings.
Frozen Royalty will have a wrap-up of the first round, along with comments from either Lombardi or perhaps Mike Futa or Mark Yanetti, on what the Kings did at the draft table tonight or early Saturday morning.
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