Sunday, June 6, 2010

19th - Los Angeles Kings Draft Preview

There were some God-awful third jerseys in the mid-90's and the Kings had one of them. This logo on it's own actually looks pretty cool and I think it could still be used to make a sharp looking uniform. Unfortunately, this handsome monarch was placed high on the left chest with a ridiculous looking grey/silver/black swoop resembling a beauty pageant sash coming off the right shoulder. Logo good - sweater fugly.

1st pick last year: Brayden Schenn (5th overall) – Schenn was one of the leading scorers in the WHL with 99 points and appeared in just 59 games thanks to time away for the 2010 WJC and even a single NHL game with the Kings. Brandon was the host club for the Memorial Cup and Schenn played a key role on the team scoring 19 points in 15 games during the WHL playoffs and 6 more in the final tournament.

The Good: Wayne Simmonds (61st overall, 2007) – Plenty of teams are waiting for their 2007 1st round picks to make an appearance at the NHL level but the Kings got almost immediate contributions from Simmonds. The Ontario native stepped right into the NHL, played a full 82-game season and collected 23 points and a bunch of accolades. He’s fast, plays physical and nearly doubled his offensive production in his second season with the Kings. All arrows are pointing up for this second round steal.

The Bad: Trevor Lewis (17th overall, 2006) – Selected a few years ago now, Lewis has only appeared in 11 NHL games. This past season he was limited to 23 AHL contests thanks to a shoulder injury and as a result he collected just 7 points in the abbreviated regular season. Lewis has great speed but his offensive touch that he showed with Des Moines (USHL) and Owen Sound (OHL) has eluded him for much of his pro career. His 51-point AHL campaign in 2008-09 has Kings fans still hoping for a turnaround in luck for Lewis.

The Unknown: Jonathan Bernier (11th overall, 2006) – He’s been one of the best goalies in the AHL over the past 2 seasons but has had to be extremely patient while waiting for his NHL opportunity. He’s matured mentally and his play has continued to get better and better. It’s to the point now where some people wonder if he’ll simply force the Kings to keep him on their NHL roster this September. He’s still projected to be their goalie of the future even though Jonathon Quick has been the guy in net as the team has developed into playoff calibre.

Coming Down the Pipe: There’s a reason the Kings have been ranked in the top 5 at Hockey’s Future I think even when I’d started writing there back in 2003. Currently ranked #2 by HF, Los Angeles has a ton of depth at every position and are set up to be a dominant NHL team over the next decade if all goes as planned. Schenn leads the forward group with Andrei Laktionov and CHL scoring champ Brandon Kozun, Thomas Hickey, Colten Teubert, Vyacheslav Voynov are on the backend while Bernier, Jeff Zatkoff and Martin Jones fill the blue paint. Schenn is probably the guy most think can step right into the NHL next year.

Draft Trends: Every pick L.A. made in 2009 was a North American player. In fact, the Kings have only selected a total of 5 Europeans in the last 5 drafts and one of them, Oscar Moller, was playing in the WHL. It might suggests that they prefer North Americans but if a talented Euro that they projected to go higher happens to slip to them... they aren’t afraid to take that kind of guy. The Kings aren’t opposed to taking a later round flyer on a smaller player that is highly skilled – see Kozun, Justin Azevedo and Garret Roe as examples.

2010 Prediction 19th overall:

Dean Millard: Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw) - Howden has good size but his best asset is his speed, especially when he flies through the neutral zone. Howden scored 28 goals with a great shot that also won him the accuracy title at the CHL’s Top Prospects game. He doesn’t get very physical but he should fit in well down the road with the Kings’ other speedy and skilled forwards.

Guy Flaming: Kirill Kabanov (Moncton) – Based on talent alone, Kabanov is a top 10 player in the 2010 draft. There’s obviously reason for concern considering how off-the-tracks his season ended up but having spoken with agent J.P. Barry, teams will know that Kabanov only wants to play in the NHL. Earlier this season the Russian made the comment that he’d like to play somewhere warm so heading to California would certainly fit the bill.


Yutaka33 said...

Nice write-up...

I think you've got a pic of Danny Taylor up instead of Bernier though...

Guy Flaming said...

Thanks cikiri... mislabeled it in my files.