Have you been following along with SB Nation's mock draft? The individual team blogs have been making their picks over the past week, and here's who is off the board:
- Edmonton: Connor McDavid (The Copper & Blue)
- Buffalo: Jack Eichel (Die By The Blade)
- Arizona: Dylan Strome (Five For Howling)
- Toronto: Mitch Marner (Pension Plan Puppets)
- Carolina: Noah Hanifin (Canes Country)
- New Jersey: Mathew Barzal (In Lou We Trust)
- Philadelphia: Ivan Provorov (Broad Street Hockey)
- Columbus: Zach Werenski (The Cannon)
- San Jose: Pavel Zacha (Fear the Fin)
- Colorado: Mikko Rantanen (Mile High Hockey)
- Florida: Lawson Crouse (Litter Box Cats)
- Dallas: Kyle Connor (Defending Big D)
After the first nine teams selected, we were feeling pretty good about our position, and maybe you were looking at a few guys we had written about and wondering whether they could possibly drop to LA. Sadly, Rantanen (a staff favorite) and Crouse (who might actually be underrated after the beating he's taken from analysts) immediately went 10-11. So much for the question we asked last week about whether a top-11 guy could drop ALL the way to 13, where the Los Angeles Kings are making their selection.
After Connor (profiled on Friday) went off the board, we had a few options. We'll be sure to cover as many as we can before next Saturday's draft, but it came down to two forwards. You'll read about the other guy tomorrow, but as is clear from the headline...
With the 13th pick in the 2015 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Jewels from the Crown is proud to select, from the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, Travis Konecny.
Who is Travis Konecny?
The current captain of the Ottawa 67's can play either center or wing and has seen his stock go up and down and back up again over the last couple seasons. Konecny was drafted #1 by the Ottawa 67's in the 2013 OHL Draft, and considering the two #1s before him were Aaron Ekblad (2011) and Connor McDavid (2012), expectations were sky-high. Somehow he lived up to them, leading all rookies in scoring (including likely top-five picks Dylan Strome and Mitchell Marner). However, Konecny's point totals were static this season, and he's become a rather polarizing prospect as a result.
General Ranking: #11-20
Highest Ranking: #7, Corey Pronman (ESPN)
Lowest Ranking: #33, Craig Button (TSN)
Why he might be gone before #13
Konecny picked up 68 points in 60 games this year, not a bad total but essentially at the same level as his production in 2013-14. However, it was a tale of two halves for him. With his 18th birthday coming up and lottery pick status out the window, Konecny averaged 1.4 points per game over the latter half of the season. If teams use this as a barometer and give Konecny a break for his injury struggles, he could sneak into the 10-11-12 range.
Why he might be available at #13
The point struggles, for one. Also, if you're paying attention, you already noticed his height next to the stats above. Konecny is listed at 5'10". With guys like Connor, Lawson Crouse, Mikko Rantanen, Pavel Zacha, and Timo Meier to choose from who combine superior size with their offensive skill, a lot of teams might be unwilling to gamble on the smaller dude.
Why the Kings might draft him
Where to start? For one, the league. Michael Futa and the LA scouts have always loved their OHL guys. It's been THREE WHOLE YEARS since they chose Tanner Pearson in the first round, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to go back to their favorite well. As for the team, Tyler Toffoli was an Ottawa 67, as were 2014 draft picks Alex Lintuniemi (2nd round) and Jacob Middleton (7th round). There's certainly trust in the franchise.
As for his on-ice abilities, a lower-than-expected point total doesn't take away from those. His speed is terrific. He was voted the league's 2nd-best stickhandler this year. The release could be deadly in a few years. The positional flexibility is another plus. All that, though, pales in comparison to his "engine." It's in the first line of almost every scouting report, and there are stories abound of Konecny's willingness to put it all on the ice to win a hockey game. Scouts fall in love with that.
Finally... Konecny was a captain, remember? The leadership and character Konecny brings to the table will be pretty enticing for the Kings. Beyond that, here's what Dean Lombardi said a couple weeks ago (via Jon Rosen) about how the Kings will move forward from their unsuccessful 2014-15 campaign:
I think any great team – and you can look at the Lidstroms, the Yzermans, the Bradys, all those teams, Kobe Bryant – the top players set the mark. It’s not the coach or anybody that gets in their ear. They show up in the top condition, ready to go for a full 82 games. It’s been hard because we’ve been playing until June. Well, this time there’s no excuse.
Mike Richards may have sealed his fate with LA by insisting he was in that "top condition" and not following through. That won't be a problem with Konecny.
He actually IS in the best shape of his life.
Why the Kings might pass him up
The last time Los Angeles took a first-rounder who was shorter than six feet, they selected Jeff Tambellini. That was their third first-round pick in the loaded 2003 draft. In spite of all the reasons Konecny could excel, the belief that Konecny isn't big enough to play a strong possession game or hold down a spot at center for the Kings could keep him from donning the black and white. In addition, there are some durability concerns; Konecny's been injured before, and his willingness to go at 150% all the time might lead to some physical troubles in the future.
For the lazy, your one-sentence summary:
Sure, Travis Konecny is short, but everything else he brings to the table make him a perfect fit for the Kings at #13.