Frozen Royalty Exclusive: LA Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti On the 2022 NHL Draft – Part 1

LOS ANGELES — The 2022 National Hockey League Draft was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 7-8, 2022. But without a first-round pick in this year’s draft, the Los Angeles Kings were hoping to make a splash, one way or another. But making a big splash just wasn’t in the cards this year.

“There was nothing we could do [in terms of trades during round one], so we tried to put some things in place for [day two of the draft], said Kings Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yannetti in an exclusive interview with Frozen Royalty. “The cost of moving up was surprisingly high in a couple of cases. I thought a couple of teams overpaid, by a long shot. We knew that it would be impossible to move up [into the first round] this year. We didn’t really try.”

“The only way a team could move into the first round without having a first-round pick is if you’re willing to eat another team’s salary mistake, or if you’re willing to trade an Alex DeBrincat-type player,” added Yannetti.

The Kings were hoping to be able to trade up from their second-round pick (51st overall), but as in the first round, there were either no takers, or the prices were too steep.

“One of the biggest issues, when you’re picking at 51 and don’t have multiple [second round] picks, is that you give up a certain sense of control,” said Yannetti. “We’ve been pretty spoiled and fortunate to have the picks we’ve had [in recent drafts]. Last year, we were able to trade up multiple times because we had the ammunition to do so. This year, we couldn’t even get a sniff.”

“We had identified three players, in two different tiers, that we’d like to move up for,” added Yannetti. “We started at pick 35, and worked our way down to 43 or 44, and couldn’t even get close to making a deal.”

“A very select few teams had all the picks. I think four or five teams had 3-5 picks each in the second round. That took away more than half the [potential] trade partners because they didn’t have a pick, and the ones that did were looking to move up, not back [when they already had multiple picks].”

Yannetti indicated that, even the day before, the Kings thought that might happen.

“At pick 51, there was a subset of players who we wanted to move up to get,” he said. “How realistic that [was], well…[On day one, we felt that] it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. But where we thought those players were going to [be selected by other teams] and where we needed to get to from 51 without overpaying, making it not worth it, [already] made it unlikely.”

The Kings’ picks in rounds 4-7 (they had no third-round pick) will be covered in the next installment of this two-part story.

Los Angeles Kings 2022 Draft Picks

First Round – No selection

Round 2

Jack Hughes (51st overall)

Center, Northeastern University. 18 years old. 6-0, 175 pounds. Left-half shot. Hometown: Westwood, Massachusetts.

Yannetti on Hughes
“At 51, we were very fortunate to get Hughes. The silver lining was that he was ranked 26 by NHL Central Scouting, and 35 by Bob McKenzie, so in terms of value, we got a high-value asset at 51.”

“He has higher-level hockey sense. He reads space really well. He moves the puck, and distributes the puck really well. He makes solid plays. He’s able to find seams to create offense with his vision. That’s probably what we like best about him—his vision and his sense.”

“His skill level is good. He’s got secondary offensive ability at the NHL level. He’s a very complementary player, offensively. Because of his blend of skill and sense, he can read off players when he doesn’t have the puck and put himself in positions to score, and when he’s got the puck, he can read good players and put them into position to score, He averaged 0.44 points per game as a true freshman and the second-youngest college player in the country. That’s a high-level offensive metric. We certainly see some potential there for the offensive element.”

“He’s a slightly above-average skater [at the college level]. He has very little snap or power in his stride. But he’s very young, in terms of his development curve. I think, when it’s all said and done, he’ll be an above-average NHL skater. He won’t be a blazer, but he’ll be fast.”

“His floor is third-line center. [But he has the potential to be a second-line] center, or a top six wing. There’s legitimate offensive upside for this kid.”

2022 NHL Draft logo courtesy of the National Hockey League. Used with permission.

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