|Rank||Player||DOB||Nationality||Draft Year/Position||Current League||2014 Rank|
||9/6/1992||USA||2012/181st overall (6th)||NCAA||Not Ranked|
The first defenseman in our list comes from the draft class following the Kings' first Stanley Cup. For the last pick of the sixth round, they selected US born Paul LaDue, a University of North Dakota commit. LaDue grew up in North Dakota, and looked forward to playing for his home state university, where he will continue to play this year after some serious consideration on turning pro. With Andrew Bodnarchuk leaving the club's AHL affiliate, Colin Miller leaving via trade, and Derek Forbort potentially graduating to the NHL, there was a real possibility that he could have logged considerable minutes for the AHL's Ontario Reign this year.
He has a solid frame, with his attributes listed at 6'1" and 205 pounds. He is also a right-shot defenseman, which the Kings covet as they strive to pair complementary shot defenders on opposing sides of the ice.
Regarding the tough decision, Rosen spoke with LaDue this summer:
I think [the decision] took me a month or month-and-a-half or so, but that was tough.Either side, I don’t think, would’ve been a wrong choice. I just felt that going back for one more year will help me out in the long run...
That probably sits just fine with the Kings front office, who seem very hesitant to rush the development of any player, particularly a defenseman. This is evidenced by the fact that Derek Forbort remains the only 2010 first round pick yet to take the ice in the NHL.
As far as potential goes, he is described as a good all around defender with no exceptional skills of note, which seems perfectly respectable for a sixth rounder. He has been a consistent producer for UND, putting up 21 points in 41 games in the 2013-2014 season followed by 22 points in as many games the following year. To compare to someone Kings fans may be more familiar with, Alec Martinez (a 4th rounder) put up 11, 24 and 32 point seasons during his time at Miami University in Ohio. So, we'll be keeping a close eye on LaDue this year to see if he's reached his ceiling yet in the NCAA.
In the aforementioned interview with Rosen, LaDue describes his clear vision on the type of player he strives to be:
It’s kind of my goal and all these defensemen coming up, they can kind of do everything. That’s what it’s going to take to get to that next level.
With his point totals and well-rounded game, LaDue could be well on his way to surpassing the meager expectations we'd normally place on a sixth round pick. If he can, in fact, "kind of do everything," that'll help.