The Los Angeles Kings draft has been a start of the new era, perhaps. The Kings have entered the rebuild or re-tooling mode and it showed with their nine picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The Kings tried to answer their needs and issues. Given their 2018-2019 regular season, it would have been more ideal for them to draft higher than “just” fifth overall. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles Kings draft seems encouraging and promising.
Los Angeles Kings Draft Fulfilled Expectations
With ending their regular season as dead-last in the Western Conference, the Kings hoped they would get a chance at Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko. That didn’t end up happening as they lost out in the draft lottery. However, the Kings can be happy with their number five selection. With that pick, the Kings selected Alex Turcotte, a very mobile and versatile forward playing as a centre.
The Kings had two first-round draft picks after the Toronto Maple Leafs sent them their top round selection in Jake Muzzin trade. That pick turned out to be the 22nd overall draft choice. That time, the Kings had plenty of options what to select. Highly regarded prospects as Bobby Brink, Raphael Lavoie or Arthur Kaliyev were available, but the Kings prioritize their need on the defence. Perpahs, there was some interest in drafting one of the top defensive prospects in Moritz Seider earlier in the draft, but the Kings chose to pick Turcotte instead. Ironically, the team right behind them, the Detroit Red Wings, made a risk and took Seider.
As we highlighted in our Draft Rankings or in our Los Angeles King’s offseason outlook, they might have been looking at Tobias Bjornfot. Mainly because the Kings need help on the left side of their defence. The Kings took a risk at drafting Bjornfot 22nd overall, but they didn’t want to miss their chance. Nevertheless, with the 33rd overall pick, in the second round, the Kings still had a chance at snagging Lavoie or Kaliyev. This time around, they went for Arthur Kaliyev. Will this be a steal for the Los Angeles Kings? Time will tell the story, but it appears promising.
Alex Turcotte Selection Answers Centre Need
In the past season, Turcotte picked 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) in 37 games with the US National Team Development Program. The 18-year-old native from Illinois was lost at words after the Kings selected him as the fifth overall player. “I can’t even believe it. I am at a loss for words,” said Turcotte immediately after his drafting. “Just so excited. I am happy they believe in me and I can’t get wait to get to camp.”
As Last Word’s Ben Kerr highlighted in his scouting report, with a few small improvements, Turcotte could become a number one centre in time. Even if he never reaches that ceiling and becomes an effective two-way second line centre, he will still be a coach’s favourite due to his defensive game and relentless energy.
The Kings centre depth doesn’t get any younger. Their captain, Anze Kopitar, is already 31-year-old. Jeff Carter is 34-year-old and there have been many rumblings around that he might be shopped in the near future. The King’s prospect pool involving the centres isn’t that deep. Former first-round draft pick, Gabriel Vilardi, is battling with the number of serious injuries. Having Turcotte as the fifth overall draft choice might prove to be important in the future. Turcotte will now play at least one more season at NCAA before being eligible to sign an entry-level contract in Los Angeles.
Tobias Bjornfot Was Logical Choice For Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Kings draft from the past two days caught a bit of a break. Last Word ranked young Swedish defenceman as the 35th in prospect rankings. However, the Kings made it clear that they want to add a top prospect on the left side of their blue line. That’s why they selected Bjornfot with their 22nd overall pick. Ultimately, the Kings had a chance to draft someone “more prominent” from the prospects with their 33rd pick in the second round.
To have a better idea of what can Bjornfot bring on the table for the Kings, feel free to read his scouting report. If a team can unlock his puck-moving and offensive skill, they could have a gem on their hands. Currently, his game is similar to Jonas Brodin but this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill. After shipping away defencemen like Dion Phaneuf or Jake Muzzin, two big left-handed defencemen, the Kings need to add on that side.
With their former fourth-round draft pick in Michael Anderson or the second-rounder Kale Clague, the Kings have something promising going with the left-handed blueliners. Notwithstanding, their only left-handed defenceman on the NHL roster is Derek Forbort. The vast majority of the Kings defence is fueled with the right shots. As it stands now, Bjornfot is expected to play at least one more campaign in Sweden. Afterwards, he will surely get a hint at what the Kings expect from him at the NHL level.
Arthur Kaliyev Highlights Rest of Los Angeles Kings Draft
He was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Kaliyev was selected 33rd overall by the Kings. In his last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL, the 17-year-old collected 102 points in 67 games. In the scouting report, Ben Kerr predicted him as the 19th best prospect. The teams probably didn’t buy on his highly effective scoring in junior. If he carries his dangerous offence into the future, the Kings might have got a steal.
Samuel Fagemo was also selected by the Kings as the 50th overall – after the team traded a third-round draft choice (64th overall) and a fifth-round draft choice (126th overall) to the Montreal Canadiens for that selection. That’s what made the Kings ending up with “only” nine draft picks instead of previously anticipated 10 choices. The Kings also sought for an upgraded at the right-wing position and Fagemo covers that need. As stated in the scouting report, his play is comparable to Tyler Toffoli. One day, he might wind up skating with Tyler Toffoli.
With the other five selections, the Kings decided to draft the Czech goaltender Lukas Parik with the 87th overall pick. With their next three choices, the Kings bet on defencemen. In the fourth round, they chose right-handed defenceman Jordan Spence (95th overall) and the left-handed defenceman Kim Nousiainen (119th overall). With the 157th overall selection, the Kings chose left-handed defenseman Braden Doyle. With the 188th overall selection, the Kings chose left winger, Andre Lee. The Kings drafted a total of three Swedish players, adding to the names as Adrian Kempe or Carl Grundstrom.
Los Angeles Kings Draft Recap
Over the past two days, it was a very busy time for the Kings front office. General Manager Rob Blake certainly understood the huge importance of this draft for his club. The Los Angeles Kings draft could have been better, as everything in this world of course. The Kings tried to answer their main needs. The biggest need is to have a large and healthy pool of mainly left-handed defencemen. Los Angeles definitely stepped in the right direction with this draft.
On the other hand, the centre position is always on premium in the NHL and the Kings are happy with what Alex Turcotte offers them. With the selection of the 17-year-old left winger Arthur Kaliyev, the Kings took probably the best available forward at the time of the pick. Los Angeles Kings draft of 2019 cannot be described as franchise-changing. However, it was certainly a helpful way of how to slowly start turning the things around in Los Angeles.