LOS ANGELES — Closing out their 2020 National Hockey League Draft, the Los Angeles Kings selected two players in the fifth round and one in the seventh on Day 2 of the draft, October 6, 2020, with the hope that these longshots—virtually all late-round draft picks—will surprise everyone and make it to the NHL.
Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti had considerably more to say about their late-round picks than he has in previous years, as the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic gave NHL teams the opportunity to devote as much time to the later rounds of the draft as they do in the first and second rounds.
Martin Chromiak (5th Round, 128th overall)
Left Wing, Kingston, OHL
18 years old; 6-0, 181 pounds
Hometown: Ilava, Slovakia
Q: Chromiak is a prospect who some expected to be selected earlier in the draft. Why do you think he dropped to where he was available when the Kings time on the clock came up?
“There’s outliers every year, and he certainly fell, in terms of his perceived [ranking] on multiple independent lists. But guys fall for a whole bunch of reasons. He played half the year in Slovakia, and he played effectively. When he was in the men’s league, he didn’t get a ton of minutes, so [there were insufficient opportunities to watch him].”
“He came to North America and went to Kingston halfway through the year. They weren’t a great team—he was probably under-scouted a little.”
“He was the obvious pick for us at that spot. We thought about [trading up] for him. In the first round, very few players fell, and those who did fell very few spots. There weren’t many guys who didn’t fall into their perceived positions. The second round went almost the exact same way. After that, all of a sudden, we saw a trend of certain types of players falling, and Chromiak fell into that group, so we thought that he would be there [at 128], and we decided [not to trade up], and he was still there.”
Q: What was it about Chromiak that caught your eye? Strengths? Weaknesses?
“He’s very smart. He sees the ice very well. He certainly leads with hockey sense. I’m trying to figure out the negatives, because there aren’t a whole lot of them. He needs to compete a little harder, He needs add some physicality and grit to his game. But he [was a] 17-year-old kid who came to the OHL in January. He was playing two games a week, tops, in Slovakia. But in the OHL, he had to play three games in a row on a weekend. He was playing more games in three days than he played in a week at home—he’s still adjusting to the league.”
“His hockey sense was attractive to us. We want guys who make plays. We want guys who are smart, who make other players better, who can facilitate puck movement, transition, and offensive flow. You can’t really do that if you don’t see the ice well, so his hockey sense would be the top attribute that drew us to him. He’s got very good skill, and slightly above average skating. There are no real deficiencies in his game.”
“He has to be more competitive. There has to be more physicality and use of his body, whether it’s defending, play on the wall, taking the puck to the net, or driving a lane in the offensive zone, there needs to be a little more compete and physicality.”
Ben Meehan (5th Round, 140th overall)
Defenseman, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Hockey East
19 years old; 6-0, 178 pounds
Hometown: Walpole, Massachusetts
The Kings sent their sixth round (159th overall) pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a seventh round pick in the 2021 draft to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the 140th overall pick.
Q: What made Meehan so attractive at 140 that you felt the need to trade up to get him?
“He was a kid who missed the vast majority of the season with an injury. We really liked him this year. He’s a draft year plus one. We had some thoughts [of selecting him] last year, in the seventh round.”
“We were fortunate that we had multiple views of him when he was injured in December. What we liked about him was that there was an aggression to his game—not so much hitting, toughness or fighting. It’s really about how he closes quickly, whether it’s on the rush, or in the defensive zone, and he closes with authority. He takes space away well, and there’s a physicality to his game. He’s just heavy on opposing players. He’s strong, and he creates a good frame, whether he’s in a battle, or when he’s finishing a check. He goes through people well.”
“His skating is above average, and his skill is slightly above average. There’s a little bit of versatility in his game. I like that he has one defining element, in terms of his competitiveness, and I love the fact that there are a couple of secondary, supporting elements that gives him a little balance and rounds him out.”
Q: What are Meehan’s challenges going forward?
“While his skating is above average, there are aspects of his skating that could be better—His pivots could be a bit better. He does get a little over his toes [leaning forward; slightly off-balance, forcing his to adjust before making his next move]. But it’s not a major hitch in his game. It’s something we feel that we can fix.”
Aatu Jamsen (7th Round, 190th overall)
Right Wing, Pelicans Jr., Finland-Jr.
18 years old; 6-2, 157 pounds
Hometown: Lahti, Finland
Q: Research on the World Wide Web brings up almost nothing on Jamsen, so what can you tell me about him?
“This is a player who played in a very, very low and under-scouted league in Europe last year. I believe he grew four or more inches last year, so you’re talking about a guy who was tiny and underdeveloped, and he made the jump from a very low [junior league, 18-year-olds] team in Finland to the best [junior league, 20-year-olds] team in Finland.”
“He tore it up in the junior-18 league, which is both good and bad. Good that he tore it up. Bad that it’s not a very good league, so he damned well better be tearing it up. This year, he went to the junior-20 league, which is the best junior league in Finland, and he tore it up again. He made that jump without his production wavering.”
“He really sees the ice well. He’s really smart. He’s skilled. His skating is coming around because his strength is coming in, it looks like he’s finding a quarter of a step every month, and that’s just in maturing.”
Q: I get the feeling that this was a pick where the extra time you had to devote to the later rounds had a major impact.
“This is a guy where we were thinking, ‘Wow! where did this kid come from?’ But then you get scared because you’re thinking, ‘We really like this kid, We should draft him,’ But then you get nervous because this was based on just three weeks of scouting, and we don’t do that.”
“So we pumped the brakes and took a step back, and started watching again. Are we really seeing what we’re seeing, or are we over-valuing him?”
“If we didn’t have the extra time [to devote to the later rounds], we may have drafted him and we may not have. But the extra time we had solidified where he was on our list.”
“We think there’s a very high reward to a very low risk ratio here. All seventh round picks are longshots, But there are things in his game that separated him from an average seventh round pick.”
Q: What were the aspects of his game that separated him from the average seventh round pick?
“It’s the hockey sense. It’s the playmaking. This guy puts tons of points on the board. He averaged more than two points per game last year. He was in the top ten in scoring in half the number of games last year. We also think his skating is above average, and he seems to be getting stronger and faster each time we see him. We think he’s just scratching the surface of his skill set.”
Q: What does he need to focus on going forward?
“He’s got to grow and develop. His skating is good, but it’s not surprising that he lacks power in parts of his game. It’ll be interesting to see, in a year or two, when his strength starts to catch up to his body, what deficiencies he has that may be strength-related. He needs to catch up to his peer group, physically.”
LEAD PHOTO: Martin Chromiak of the Kingston Frontenacs skates during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on January 25, 2020, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Chris Tanouye/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 2
- Going Deep Into the LA Kings 2020 NHL Draft with Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti – Part 3
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