33 Days to Go: Are the Kings’ Draft Picks Moving Too Slowly?
Very few of the Kings’ 33 draft picks since 2012 have made their NHL debut. Unusual?
Our countdown to the 2016-17 season continues, with 33 days to go...
The Los Angeles Kings have made 33 draft picks since they won the Stanley Cup in 2012. How many have played in the NHL?
The crazy thing? You probably don’t think that number seems low. You may actually think it seems high, and you wouldn’t be wrong; only one of those three ever actually played for the Kings. Naturally, it’s the first post-Cup draft pick, Tanner Pearson. Colin Miller (#151 in 2012) and Hudson Fasching (#118 in 2013) were both strong late round picks who were traded for fixtures in the Kings lineup, so it’s not like they were total losses, but they made their debuts out East.
But it’s three, nonetheless, and that begs the question: is 3-for-33 really that terrible? We’re talking about 33 guys who are 24 or younger, cracking the lineup of one of the NHL’s premier teams. Compared to the rest of the league, unsurprisingly, it’s a low rate. Leaving out the 2016 picks because they haven’t had a chance to make the NHL yet, 160 of the 843 draft picks since 2012 have played at least one NHL game, or about 19%.
LA’s three NHL-level draft picks of 29 in that time is tied for the fewest of any team with the Bruins (of 27), Blackhawks (32), Panthers (27), Rangers (23), Flyers (28), and Blues (28). Buffalo and Winnipeg each have had nine, the highest of any team. (Amazingly, the team with the highest “success” rate is Pittsburgh, who’s had eight of their 24 picks since 2012 make the leap; chalk it up to a crazy run of injuries last season.)
I wouldn’t see this as a fault of LA’s drafting, though. Of LA’s 13 picks in 2012 and 2013, only two (Pearson and Valentin Zykov) were in the top 100. Only five players chosen after LA’s first pick (Adrian Kempe) in 2014 have made it to the NHL, and no 2015 pick was ever going to play last season. In fact, looking at the system, there’s an excellent chance no other post-2012 picks will play in LA this year either. Kempe? Amadio? Ladue? There are outside shots, but the Kings are taking their time, and if you’re really worried, maybe the 2011 class will prove comforting. After three years, none of them had debuted in the NHL, but Andy Andreoff, Nick Shore, Michael Mersch, and even Christopher Gibson broke through in the next couple seasons.