The NHL Draft takes place today in New Jersey with the Anaheim Ducks having six selections and the Los Angeles Kings getting 10 picks.
For Kings GM Dean Lombardi and company, this year’s draft could be like waiting in line to see Santa Claus the day before Christmas. The Kings traded their No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the deal that brought Jeff Carter and an eventual Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.
Although the Kings have 10 selections in the draft, they won’t be making their first pick until the 57th selection.
The Kings will likely be in a wait and see mode as it will be a couple of hours before Lombardi gets his chance to walk up to the podium and announce which young player will have the opportunity to wear the black and white.
Though all the projected “blue chippers”” will have been drafted by the time the Kings’ turn rolls around, there is precedence in Kings history proving that the best players are not always drafted at the top. You don’t have to look any further than Kings Hall of Famer (and current Kings president of business operations) Luc Robitaille who was drafted in the 9th round, 171st overall.
Back in 2005, the Kings drafted Jonathan Quick in the third round (72nd overall) and in 2007, they selected Alec Martinez and Dwight King in the fourth round. In all, 10 of the Kings 23 players currently on their roster are homegrown.
The 2008 draft landed the Kings Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. In 2005, the Kings said hello to Anze Kopitar and Quick while 2003 brought them captain Dustin Brown.
Barring any last minute wheeling and dealing, at pick No. 57, the Kings should be able to shore up their depth up front with a potential top six forward. Anthony Duclair, who played in the Quebec Junior League, and Zach Sanford from Auburn, New Hampshire, are both skilled forwards who could be available when it’s time for the Kings to make their pick. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Sanford has the size that fits the Kings mold while Duclair, who has been compared to Marian Gaborik and Alexander Semin, checks in at 5-11, 180.
Meanwhile, the Ducks own the 26th pick in Sunday’s draft.
With the Ducks’ Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf locked up long term for big money, GM’s around the league continue to inquire on the availability of forward Bobby Ryan, who has two years left on his deal for just over $5 million.
While Ducks GM Bob Murray claims he is not actively trying to trade Ryan, Murray is always willing to listen to offers. The question remains are the Ducks, who are in need of help both down the middle and on the blueline, better off trading Ryan to shore up thier other needs.
If Anaheim was to move Ryan and his 30-plus goals a year, finding his replacement would be no easy task.
Since Ryan was selected second overall in the 2005 draft, the Ducks have yet to have a first-round selection with significant impact. Cam Fowler, the 12th pick in 2010, has had flashes of being an elite defenseman and Emerson Etem, picked 29th in the same draft, seemed to make a breakthrough in last year’s playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings.
If the Ducks are to trade Ryan, one possibility to fill that void could be Anthony Mantha from the Quebec Junior League. Mantha was one of three players this past season to score 50 goals in junior hockey. He has the size, at 6-4, 190, and a rocket for a shot.
If Mantha is off the board at the 26 pick, the Ducks could target someone like Ian McCoshen (Waterloo, USHL). At 6-2, 207, McCoshen has been projected to be a shutdown defenseman that could play 20 plus minutes a game.
It will be interesting to see what Santa Claus brings the Ducks and Kings’ GMs on Sunday.