First came 48 games in 99 days, then the post-season, the NHL Awards (well, sort of), the crowning of a new champion…and now, this weekend brings the 2013 Draft.
So, what can you expect to see the Kings do this weekend in New Jersey?
First and foremost bank on some trades.
Dean Lombardi has overseen seven drafts as the main man for LA, beginning with the 2006 edition – coming just a few months after he was hired as General Manager. In that span, he’s made at least one trade (and often more) at every draft.
Lombardi’s personal record came in 2008, when over the course of two-days he made eight separate deals.
Although guys like Michael Cammalleri and Brian Boyle were involved in some of his past Draft Day trades, Lombardi’s specialty in this setting is packaging multiple picks to move up several slots. He also will gladly take multiple picks in return for moving down in the same round.
For example, at the 2010 Draft in LA, hosted by the Kings, he packaged a first round choice (19th overall) and a second round pick (59th overall) to move up four slots in the first round. Lombardi wanted defenseman Derek Forbort and he didn’t want to wait.
So, what does ‘Dealer Dean’ have to work with heading into the league’s prospectpalooza?
For starters, the Kings don’t have a first round pick this year. Their would-be selection, 27th overall, belongs to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade from last year.
However, they do have ten picks overall, tying them with Buffalo, Nashville and Winnipeg for the most selections.
If there was ever a sure bet, it’s that Lombardi doesn’t keep all those picks.
Breaking it down by round, he’ll start the day with one pick in the second round, one in the third, three in the fourth (LA’s pick, plus ones he acquired from Philadelphia and Carolina), two in the fifth (LA’s, plus one from Montreal), one in the sixth and two in seventh (LA’s and one from Dallas).
Without packaging a current roster player and/or high end prospect with that second rounder (and maybe even more), Lombardi likely won’t be moving into the first round. He’s known to go off the board though. So, if he sees a player he really likes, he could do something big.
It just doesn’t seem very likely this year.
The Kings second round pick doesn’t come until fairly late in the round (57th overall). Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Lombardi pair that pick with one or more of his three fourth round selections to move up earlier in the round – say to around the 38th spot, maybe in a deal with Buffalo? Or maybe even a few slots earlier in a trade with Montreal, who hold the 34th and 36th picks.
It’s also worth mentioning that Lombardi has made some serious hay in the second round while with the Kings. That’s where he drafted Wayne Simmonds, Slava Voynov, Kyle Clifford and Tyler Toffoli. So, whoever the player is, take note. There’s a good chance Lombardi will nab a future LA King with that pick.
Enough about slots though, let’s move on to the players and positions most likely being targeted.
A peek into the Kings’ prospect pool easily sheds some light onto what they’ll be looking for. It comes down to three things, ending with a goalie and a left wing.
Of the 55 players Lombardi has selected since taking the head seat at LA’s table, 15 have already gone on to become NHL players (with the Kings or another club) and 23 are still considered prospects for the Kings. However, there’s only one drafted goalie left in the system, JF Berube (fourth round, 2009). The other netminder, Martin Jones, was signed as an unrestricted free agent.
Although Jonathan Quick has a long-term contract and looks to be manning the crease in LA for the next decade, Lombardi still likes to keep the organization flush at that position. That probably speaks volumes for what they ended up thinking of Christopher Gibson, the team’s top pick in 2011. When they recently decided to not offer him a contract, essentially cutting ties with him, Assistant GM Ron Hextall told MayorsManor they just weren’t satisfied enough with his progress.
So, logic suggests a mid-round pick will be used to snatch one up. Yet, Lombardi surprised everybody when he took Gibson 49th overall in 2011 (and it was the Kings top pick, as they didn’t have a first round selection that year either). Thus, you just never truly know what Lombardi will do. If he sees a player he likes, he goes for it.
Looking out to the blueline, LA is fairly stable, with a stockpile of options at both the NHL and AHL levels. Despite not knowing the status of Willie Mitchell’s health and Rob Scuderi’s contract status, Lombardi probably won’t be looking to use his first pick on a defenseman. In fact, given his current salary cap issues, you may even see him move one of his Restricted Free Agents – namely Keaton Ellerby or Alec Martinez.
If so, it would have less to do with the performance of either player and be caused more by a current logjam LA is experiencing on defense.
Finally, the most glaring need is at forward. Over the past few years Lombardi’s been on the hunt for a few high-end left wings, where the team has remained thin for quite some time. In fact, three of his top picks at forward over the last two drafts were left wings (Tanner Pearson, Nikolay Prokhorkin and Andy Andreoff). One of those three could be in LA as early as next season. But, the Kings’ pipeline still needs depth beyond that. As such, maybe look left when it’s time for their first selection.
Who might it be? It’s way too early to tell what may fall to the Kings in the second round (assuming they stay at #57). The first round never goes as planned, especially after the first five picks. So, there are a lot of variables there that can’t really be commented on until we get into the actual draft on Sunday.
That said, it could be one of Morgan Klimchuk (Regina, WHL), JT Compher (US National Team) and Nick Moutrey (Saginaw). Just a hunch, but Compher could be the guy.
There’s also Pavel Buchnevich out of the KHL. However, given all the challenges with getting Maxim Kitsyn and Prokhorkin over to North America the past few years, Lombardi may be a little gun shy to use a top pick on a Russian player this year. Later in the draft maybe. But not in the first two rounds.
Moving over to the goalies, things get a bit easier. You’re really looking at a pool of about five guys, maybe ten.
Zach Fucale and Eric Comrie will likely be the first two netminders selected by other teams. It’s also highly unlikely Lombardi would move the assets necessary to trade up and target one of those guys. He’ll double-down for a forward long before a goalie this year.
And that’s where Tristan Jarry (Edmonton, WHL), Philippe Desrosiers (Rimouski, QMJHL) and Antoine Bibeau (PEI, QMJHL) come in. All three are ranked in the top ten by NHL’s Central Scouting.
Justin Goldman, Director of Scouting for McKeen’s Hockey – who stopped by MayorsManor earlier this week to offer an in-depth analysis of new Kings goalie Ben Scrivens – had this to say about Lombardi’s possible plans:
In terms of who I feel fits the mold of a Kings prospect the best, I’d like to think Jarry could be that guy. Outside of what he brings in terms of skill and upside, the Kings could keep a close eye on him since he’s with the Oil Kings, and he’ll soon see his workload skyrocket when Laurent Brossoit turns pro. If they continue to pluck guys out of the QMJHL (Gibson, Berube), then I think Desrosiers or Bibeau make good fits.
His full breakdown of the goalies available this weekend can be found here.
We’ll have live draft coverage all day Sunday, with notes, videos and comments on each player selected by the Kings. Until then, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Kings Top Ten Prospect Rankings linked here.
If it’s more trade talk you want, click here to see who we think is the most likely Kings forward to be traded and why. It’s from about a month ago and things have heated up in this area over the last few days.
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