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2012 NHL Draft: Profile of the Kings' First Round Pick, Tanner Pearson

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Barrie Colts (OHL), Age: 19, DOB: August 10, 1992, Position: LW/RW, Height: 6 ft, Weight: 200lbs, Shoots: Left

With the final pick of the first round, the Los Angeles Kings selected a 19-year-old, late-blooming winger ready to step into the AHL, Tanner Pearson.

Described as a gritty, defensively-responsible forward, he is also a gifted passer who surprised everyone by becoming one of the OHL's leading scorers last season.

While other teams are more intrigued with the possible upside of 17-year-olds, this pick fits a lot of patterns shown by the scouting staff. The Kings have chosen players passed over by previous drafts before (Wayne Simmonds in 2007, Andrew Campbell in 2008, and Andy Andreoff in 2011). Futa is a former GM with a lot of connections in the OHL, and that league is one of their favorite fishing holes. Most importantly, almost everything about this player shouts "LA Kings style hockey." He's billed as a two-way player who gives full effort in every shift.

Many talented, highly ranked players remain on the board. But after winning the Cup with a certain philosophy, they probably feel confident seeking out more players in that mold.

Was it the right gamble?

After the jump, we'll have scouting reports, links, and some highlights on our newest prospect. Take a look.

Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus (Ranked 40th Overall):

Pearson has been one of this draft season's surprise stories as the winger entering his third draft eligible season skyrocketed towards the top of the OHL scoring race and grabbed the attention of scouts everywhere. Pearson is a gritty forward who works hard on the forecheck, doesn't shy from throwing his body around, does good work in front of the net, and shows effort in his own end. While Pearson is 19 and turns 20 in August, his frame is somewhat filled and shows good strengths in his battles. He has a desirable offensive element to him, led by his high-end hockey sense. Pearson is a tremendous passer with eyes in the back of his head and can make tremendous feeds and consistently execute above-average ones. Pearson has average hands, maybe a tick above that, but does fine protecting the puck and getting his stick on pucks in front of the net. His main weakness is his skating, which is below-average and doesn't look great off the line, but his top speed is okay although it could certainly be better. Due to his inability to be very effective in the transition game, Pearson projects as a better PP scorer than an even-strength one but will be effective defensively 5-on-5.

The Kings have shown a willingness to draft prospects whose skating needs improvement (such as Tyler Toffoli). But the list of his strengths is Dean Lombardi catnip.

The Scouting Report (Ranked 39th Overall):

While his pace has slowed slightly, Tanner Pearson continues to be an offensive threat every night. A classic late bloomer, Pearson found chemistry early in the season with the rest of his team and has not looked back since. Pearson thinks the game on an extremely high level; he consistently makes great decisions with the puck and is able to thread passes through traffic with ease. He also does a great job in putting himself in great position, he is a player who the puck just seems to find time and time again. While Pearson will be eligible for his 3rd time this season, he has emerged as a legitimate NHL prospect and with no glaring weaknesses in his game, he’s earned his spot in our rankings.

Videos

This kid looks up to Mike Richards. Aw.

A goal and a nifty assist in the bronze medal game.

Further reading:

Arctic Ice Hockey examined the question of whether Pearson's surprising offense was due to being carried by his linemates. They looked at with-and-without patterns of scoring and found that theory didn't hold up.

Here's an article from TSN on his dark horse/sleeper status back in 2011, when he made the junior team as a walk on.

Do you approve of this pick? What's your opinion of the newest Los Angeles King prospect?