LOS ANGELES — After selecting center Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick in the 2020 National Hockey League Draft on October 5, the Los Angeles Kings went on to select seven more players in rounds 2-7 on October 6 to round out their 2020 draft, which has been rated among the very best by various pundits and media outlets.
“I think it was a very good draft,” said Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti. “One of the things this longer process did was allow us to really get dialed in. You’re allowed to work on so many more fronts. We put more hours into the later picks, and into draft strategy, reading the draft, and our procedures.”
As he did for the first round, Yanetti also spoke to Frozen Royalty about the prospects the Kings selected in the later rounds. In this installment, we’ll look closely at the two players they selected in the second round.
Helge Grans (2nd Round,35th overall)
Defenseman, Malmo Redhawks, Swedish Hockey (Elite) League
18 years old; 6-2, 210 pounds. Right-hand shot
Hometown: Ljungby, Sweden
“He’s a bigger kid, a shade under 6-3,” said Yanetti. “It looks like he’s going to be a well-built, kind of a wider body guy. Good frame. Very good straight line skater, a very powerful skater. He really moves well coming up the ice.”
“His agility needs just a little bit of work,” added Yanetti. “But that’s as much about his growing into his body as it is anything technical.”
Q: What do you think his strengths are?
“He moves the puck well, and he’s got a really good transitional game. He can skate the puck or pass it. Very good skill. He played on the power play for his SHL team last year, in his limited ice time, which doesn’t really happen for guys his age. He has an offensive element to his game that we hope will translate into a power play element at the NHL level.”
Q: What does he need to work on the most in order to make it to the NHL?
“His defensive zone play is probably the difference between him being a top 15 pick and a pick at 35. His defensive zone play needs improvement. That’s something that we’ve spoken to him about in our interviews. It’s something that he recognizes, and it’s something he works on.”
“He’s a transplanted forward, which is one of the reasons he’s so good, offensively. He has that kind of offensive mind—he played forward until a few years ago, so it’s not surprising that he’s behind in his defensive zone play.”
“You’ve heard me talk about our development staff. I think they’re brilliant. In talking to them, if a player has certain attributes, and I’m not going to say what those are, they think that they can teach him defense. As long as Grans is willing to commit himself to the defensive side of the game, and we think he is, it might take some time. But it’s worth the time it takes with everything else you get with him, plus he’s really competitive.”
“When you hear that a player isn’t very good defensively, it’s usually because he doesn’t care, or that he’s soft. This kid plays hard. When he does hit a guy, it’s contact.”
“He plays a good, competitive game. It’s just the structure and his defensive play that needs to get better.”
The Kings traded up for another second round pick, sending the 51st (second round) and 97th (4th round) picks in the 2020 draft to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for the 45th overall pick…
Brock Faber (2nd Round, 45th overall)
Defenseman, United States National Team Development Program
18 years old; 6-0, 193 pounds. Right-hand shot
Hometown: Maple Grove, Minnesota
Q: You apparently didn’t think Faber would be available at 51.
“We know that we wouldn’t have gotten him at 51. We were very confident about that. He was the last person in the tier who was left, and after that, there was a drop. If we didn’t take him there, and he wasn’t there at 51, we would’ve lost a tier value, not just a player value.”
Q: Trading up to get him…That you felt that you had to get Faber says a lot for him. What was so impressive about him?
“One of the things [general manager Rob Blake] is trying to affect is the culture. You do that by [adding players who have a strong compete level] and leadership qualities—intangibles. That’s the way to affect culture. But you have to be careful that you don’t draft culture at the expense of ability.”
“This kid leads with compete level—intangibles. We love the aggressiveness of his play, we love that he plays the right way. He’s accountable. All of that are things we’re looking to inject into our lineup.”
Q: Besides intangibles, what stood out to you about his play?
“He’s not in the top level of skaters in the draft, but I think he’s in one of the next two tiers of top skaters. There are probably eight-to-ten tiers of skaters, and he’s in the top two or three, so that’s three of the five tools.”
“His skill level is good. Skating is the best part of his skill set. We think he’s an elite defender right now. He leads with defense. He has to improve the offensive side of his game, but he was used in a very specific defensive role for the NTDP team, a role that kids usually aren’t keen on playing. But he played it really, really well. He doesn’t have the numbers yet, but we feel that he has the skill for those numbers to be there. If that happens, it’s a home run.”
Q: What do you project his role on the blue line to be?
“We think his floor is a number four defenseman. He’s going to play on your penalty-kill, he’s going to be able to take top line matchups when it’s all said and done. If his skills that hint at offense develop into offense, that’ll move him up at least one or two roles among the defensemen.”
“He’ll be given the opportunity to improve the offensive side of his game at [the University of Minnesota, where he will play next season]. He’s going to the right place to develop the parts of his game that need to get better. It’s the right environment.”
NEXT: Yanetti spoke with Frozen Royalty about all of the Kings 2020 draft picks. In the next installment of this series, we’ll go deep on some, if not all, of the remaining draft picks.
LEAD IMAGE: Defenseman Brock Faber, shown here with the U.S. NTDP team, during the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournamen against Slovakia on December 11, 2018, at USA Hockey Arena on December 11, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images.
- Going Deep Into the LA Kings 2020 NHL Draft with Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti – Part 1
- Going Deep Into the LA Kings 2020 NHL Draft with Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti – Part 3
- Going Deep Into the LA Kings 2020 NHL Draft with Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti – Part 4
Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.
Hi Gann, a blast from the past so to speak. Back in the day we conversed. You helped me with a couple of articles, after LA drafted Hickey. I got some insights at that time from Russ Farwell, the then GM of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who I knew and traveled with to the draft in Minnesota a number of years ago. Back then, Barry Melrose was the coach. You also helped me understand the bleak situation at I believe Manzanar. Anyway, wonderful to see the great success you’re having!
Patrick: Great to hear from you. Still living in a yurt? 😝