Paul LaDue Earns First Call-Up to Los Angeles Kings

The 2012 sixth-round pick has only 39 AHL games under his belt.

After Tom Gilbert was waived, the Los Angeles Kings were faced with a general lack of defensive options beyond their six primary blueliners. That lasted only a few hours, as the Kings have called up defenseman Paul LaDue from the Ontario Reign of the AHL.

From the Kings’ press release:

The 24-year-old LaDue (born Sept. 6, 1992) is a 6-2, 201-pound native of Grand Forks, N.D., who has appeared in 36 games during his rookie season with Ontario, posting 18 points (6-12=18) and 26 penalty minutes. At the time of his recall he ranked tied for first in goals and third in assists among team defensemen. Among AHL rookie defensemen he ranked fifth in goals, tied for ninth in assists, tied for eighth in points and tied for second in power play goals (four; tied for ninth among all AHL defensemen).

I haven’t checked every single name, but I’m pretty sure LaDue has spent less time in the AHL before earning a shot than any Kings defenseman since Drew Doughty. Aside from these 36 games in 2016-17, he only had a three-game playoff stint under his belt with Ontario.

LaDue’s not a typical AHL rookie, though, as he’s a 24-year-old who was drafted as an overage prospect in 2012. So far, Tanner Pearson is the only Kings pick from that draft to get into a game with the Kings; he’s the only pick from 2012 or later, for that matter. But LaDue got considerable seasoning in his three seasons at the University of North Dakota, and he made an impression immediately at camp after declining to return for his senior season. More importantly, he’s been quite good in Ontario.

We noted in our Top 25 Under 25 (where LaDue came in at #9) that it was conceivable that LaDue could make his NHL debut this season, and given the tradition of past February call-ups, it’s more than just conceivable now: it’s likely.

LaDue is unlikely to play tonight, but with four games in six days starting Saturday, we might see him soon enough.