Manchester's ranks are thinner today, as two prospects are now gone for nothing:
Kings lost 2 players on waivers today. Rich Clune now with Nashville. Thomas Hickey claimed by Islanders.— Renaud Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) January 15, 2013
Lombardi tried and failed to trade down to select Hickey in 2007; instead, he went 4th overall. Hickey has been burdened with the task of trying to live up to a draft spot that was too high ever since.
As captain of the Thunderbirds--back when I first became a fan of his--he showed much promise and offensive flair. However, his size was always a concern, and two major injuries to his shoulder and ankle limited his playing time and didn't help his development. His production in the AHL never managed to approach previous levels. He has since focused on becoming a steady, reliable d-man.
Hockey Prospectus had ranked him ninth among current Kings prospects in 2012:
The Good: Hickey has transformed his game from an offensive player when he was drafted, to a safe, smart defensive defenseman. He was pretty good at that this past year, earning an AHL All-Star nod. He's an above-average skater and thinker who is always in the right positioning, makes good plays in his own end with his stick, and doesn't shy from physical battles. He makes a decent first pass as well.
The Bad: The former fourth overall pick's upside is a bit of a faded dream now as he hasn't really shown in the pro level to be able to threaten offensively. His size won't help him, as while he's improved in the physical game, he's still a pretty small player.
Projection: He could be a third pairing defenseman.
I often thought Hickey would have played in the NHL already if he belonged to a different organization, and was surprised he wasn't included in camp. Now he'll get a new start.
On a personal level, I'm glad for him, because this is best for his career. As a Kings fan, it's never great to lose depth; and though the LA's drafting record under Lombardi is still well above average, the Kings never benefited from this high pick.
The Monarchs will surely miss the tough, scrappy Clune, but he never found a place on the Kings' roster. Just when it looked like he was going to make the team out of camp in 2009, he injured his groin in the preseason. He had a brief call-up later that season and played 14 games, but Kyle Clifford joined the team in 2010 and remained a fixture of the roster instead.
Clune, who once was a 20-30-goal scorer in junior, is only of average height but has a tremendous fitness level. He doesn't put up a lot of points, but is a popular teammate who can hit, agitate, and fight. He had cleared waivers in previous years. Now he joins the Predators' system.
More waiver claims to come?
The Kings have Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, and Andrew Bodnarchuk in camp right now; if those three are returned to Manchester, only Toffoli is protected from being claimed. The Kings' defensive depth may take another hit, and the Monarchs are dealing with several losses already.
When an organization finally achieves good depth at the NHL level, this sort of thing is inevitable. You can't keep everyone. But you wish you could.