LOS ANGELES — With the 2019 National Hockey League Draft behind them and the first on-ice session of their 2019 Development Camp just one day away, the Los Angeles Kings are already in the midst of a busy summer in which their second true rebuilding period is now in full swing.
Although there are young prospects already in the system who will be a part of their future, the 2019 draft was the first draft in which general manager Rob Blake went into the weekend knowing that his team was rebuilding, as opposed to believing that his team was still a Stanley Cup contender, and it appears that his plan for this year’s draft worked out well, in terms of the potential of the nine prospects they selected.
“Rob has a way he wants this team built and I think we were able to give Rob the attributes he wants in players without sacrificing talent,” said Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti. “We didn’t exchange talent for culture. We didn’t give him one or the other.”
“We were able to have his plan in place early, which allowed us to identify guys who had both,” added Yanetti. “At the same time, there were certain spots in the draft where there were players who had exactly what he wanted, and then, there were other spots that were thinner, so we weren’t trying to always just grab those assets. We recognized that there were spots where you should grab them and places where you should back off.”
“I think we had an exceptional draft. The strategy we put in place and the framework for who we thought would be available at each pick, the attributes we wanted to get at each pick—we were really good at reading the draft.”
A good example of that was the selection of forward Arthur Kaliyev (second round, 33rd overall), who had been projected by most to be a top-20 first round pick.
“We gauged the draft right at 33,” said Yanetti. “We thought someone on our list would fall to 33 and that allowed us to be more versatile with our pick at 22 [when they selected defenseman Tobias Bjornfot], and I thought we did a good job of finding value in the middle and late rounds.”
“We had a lot of picks and I thought we used them well,” added Yanetti. “We had a deal with Ottawa to move up from 33 to 32 [which did not materialize] and we made the deal with Montreal so we could get [left wing Samuel] Fagemo [second round, 50th overall]. You can’t do that if you don’t have any picks or if you don’t use them well.”
Yanetti noted that the Kings had no opportunity to move up from the fifth overall pick and that they had an offer for the 22nd overall pick.
“At 22, we did have an offer to move back,” he said. “But the offer was such that we dismissed it in one second.”
Going back to the selection of center Alex Turcotte in the first round (fifth overall), evidence suggests that he was not at the top of the Kings draft list.
Indeed, if you watch the latest episode of the Kings’ Black and White series, which focused on the 2019 NHL Draft, you’ll note that once the Colorado Avalanche selected defenseman Bowen Byram with the fourth overall selection, Yanetti turned to Blake and said, “Byram’s off the board, so we’re picking Turcotte, right?”
Blake replied, “Right.”
Not that this is all that significant, because they had already surmised that Byram would be off the board by the time the fifth overall pick was on the clock, and of course, you can draw your own conclusions from the conversation between Yanetti and Blake, but it does appear that if Byram was still available, the Kings would have selected him instead of Turcotte.
Regardless of that, the Kings got a highly-sought after player in Turcotte and overall, Yanetti was proud and very happy with what his amateur scouting staff had accomplished.
“I think the players we got will go a long way to putting us back up top where we were used to being and where we want to get back to,” he said.
In case you missed it, Frozen Royalty spoke with Yanetti about each of the players selected by the Kings in the 2019 NHL Draft. You can read all about each player in LA Kings 2019 NHL Draft Wrap-Up with Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti – Part 1.
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake (left) and Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti (right) are shown here with the Kings’ 2019 first round draft pick Alex Turcotte, who they selected fifth overall. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Kings.
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