Five Reasons for an LA Kings Fan to Watch the NHL Draft
Also, how and where to watch!
It's Friday, and you might have plans this evening. You might not even care that the NHL Draft starts tonight and runs into tomorrow. If you're a Los Angeles Kings fan, who would blame you? No draft picks tonight (or in the first 50) and only four picks overall, so why bother? And even worse, we don't get a bunch of general managers reluctantly congratulating the Kings on their third Stanley Cup.
Here are five reasons!
1. Trades! Trades! Trades!
Last year, LA stole the headlines on draft night by trading away the 13th pick in the draft, along with Martin Jones and Colin Miller, to acquire Milan Lucic. (It was fun while it lasted.) Two years ago they swapped Linden Vey for a second round pick. Three years ago, it was Jonathan Bernier who was on the move. And though they were too hung over to do anything in 2012, the 2011 Draft weekend brought Mike Richards, Colin Fraser, and the pick that would become Nick Shore.
So history says that LA will be looking to trade. They don't have the first round pick this year, but now that Lucic appears to be on his way out, they have room to be one of a number of teams looking for defensive help. A second rounder might be enough to add a useful piece, and if they add in one of their younger forwards they could get the young top-four defenseman they've been searching for. Dwight King's name has been brought up by John Hoven.
And even if the Kings don't make a deal, there are numerous other teams to keep an eye on... many in LA's division. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who was picked at the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles, will probably be on the move. The Calgary Flames are looking for a new goaltender. The Vancouver Canucks are looking for everyone. And Arizona has already added Alex Goligoski and might be gearing up for more additions. Throw in some oddly persistent PK Subban rumors, and something interesting is bound to happen.
2. The Second Rounder Is An Immediate Top LA Prospect
We've talked about the Kings' prospect pool a lot (and won't rub it in any further), but with most of LA's top prospects either moving to the NHL or moving to another city this year, we're running out of exciting young players to keep track of. Whoever LA gets at #51 has a chance to be a real impact guy, and at the very least, it'll be a guy like Valentin Zykov, who gave us lots of intrigue before he got traded. At best? Tyler Toffoli was the 47th pick.
3. The Kings' Goaltending Future Could Be Determined
LA has nothing in the goaltending pipeline right now. Literally, nothing. Patrik Bartosak is gone. Alec Dillon is not expected to be re-signed. Peter Budaj might be LA's backup, but he isn't exactly a bright young talent. Goalies are remarkably unpredictable, but what is predictable is that if LA picks a goalie, we're going to be praying for the next Martin Jones. (Minus the whole taking-our-rivals-to-a-Cup-Final thing.)
4. These Lower Round Picks Might Matter
The LA Kings have been a terrific drafting team in the last decade. Twelve LA picks from rounds 4-7 have made it to the NHL, a success rate which is nearly unmatched across the NHL, and you can probably name some of the biggest success stories without me naming them. I'll do it anyway, though: Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Kevin Gravel, Michael Mersch, Nic Dowd...
So we might not know for three or four years, but hey, one of them could be a big deal someday!
5. Because It's On!
We'll get to see the Kings do stuff, probably! And after two months off from hockey we could all use a little action.
Speaking of which, the television coverage starts at 3:30 Pacific on NBC Sports Network! You'll be able to live stream the draft from here in three-ish hours, and you can expect the first pick to come in around 4 PM. I'll bet you $100 that it's Auston Matthews.