The NHL Draft lottery was held on Friday, June 26th under very strange conditions. A pandemic will do that. The seven teams who did not qualify for the play-in or playoffs were able to see where they will land in the draft order. The Los Angeles Kings draft choice was to be the fifth overall pick if things went normally. During a pandemic nothing is normal.
Los Angeles Kings Draft Surprise
When one of the placeholder teams had jumped into the top three, things didn’t look too promising for Kings moving up. The bottom three picks, disclosed in reverse order, came in without surprise with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, and Anaheim Ducks at number eight through number six. Then the Ottawa Senators were revealed as picking at the number five spot, moving the Kings into one of the top-three selections.
When the placeholder team (yet unannounced) was awarded the number one spot, that meant the Kings were getting the second selection in the draft.
Not bad at all. That hasn’t happened in Tinsel Town since Drew Doughty was taken as the number two pick in 2008.
Center Quinton Byfield and left-winger Tim Stützle are the prospects the Kings may use that second overall pick to continue their rebuild. Actually, they will have a clear field of options to choose from since we all know that Alexis Lafreniere will be the first overall draft choice of an unnamed team at this point.
Luc Robitaille Couldn’t be Happier
When Luc Robitaille was interviewed on NHL Tonight he seems very pleased to have the second overall selection to help get his team back in the mix again. There are certainly a lot of talented prospects in this draft. So the Kings can’t be disappointed that they didn’t get the top pick.
Byfield has been compared to Anze Kopitar and that can’t be a bad thing for Kings’ fans to digest. Kopitar’s contributions to the franchise have been nothing short of spectacular. If Byfield can come anywhere close to that level he will be a star for years to come in Los Angeles if he is selected. Byfield already has an NHL size frame standing 6′-4″, 214 pounds. He will be 18-years-old on August 19th.
He has certainly established that he can find the back of the net with ease. His 61 goals and 82 assists for 143 points in just 109 games display his offensive skills.
Stützle can play both centre and wing and stands 6′-1″, 187 pounds and is 18-years-old. He possesses excellent skating skills with speed as his best weapon. While not as big as Byfield, he still would be a good choice for the Kings. It really depends on what direction the team is heading towards in this draft. General manager Rob Blake has made it clear that they could select either defenceman Jamie Drysdale or Jake Sanderson.
The Kings finished 14th in allowing goals against this past season. It seems that their meagre offence needs a shot in the arm that either Byfield or Stutzle can provide. They were next to last in goals scored per game with just 2.53 per contest. If the team chooses Byfield it would seem to reinforce the weakest area of its team.
The team has high hopes for their number 5 selection last year, Alex Turcotte. If both he and Byfield (if selected) can be added to the roster, the Kings playoff prospects would be increased significantly. They have appeared twice in the postseason in the last five years but were eliminated in the first round handily each time.
The Los Angeles Kings have some really talented young prospects going forward. That has got to encourage them and their fans. If they select Byfield as they should, they won’t regret it as he seems to fit the mould of what the team’s offence needs at this point.
The Kings were SO close to getting the first overall pick. Yet they could have fallen farther down in the selection order. Getting the second pick overall is not a bad thing.
Just ask Drew Doughty.