Ah, the post-season: The time where a Kings fan’s fancy turns to June and the NHL draft (at least, that’s been the case for far too long). As the time draws near on the annual Gary Bettman boo-fest — it’s in Montreal this year, so you know the jeers for the beleagured commish are going to be even more epic than normal — I’ve been thinking more about what the Kings should do. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of thinking necessary to find my answer, for there really is only one sane conclusion to make.
The Kings need to spend their first round pick on a forward. Period.
The organization has done well to build up a foudation of strong defense over the past few years, even if drafting Thomas Hickey fourth overall in 2007 was a stretch. Their young corps of defensemen led by Drew Doughty and Kyle Quincy proved that the future on the blueline is indeed bright, and I could get behind a goaltending tandem of Jonathan Quick/Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Bernier for the next several years. Now, they need to start working on that whole goal scoring thing. Considering that they led the league in being shut out last year and they are currently quite thin on legitimate forward prospects, this should be a no-brainer. And it would be for most teams.
However, the Kings are not most teams, and that’s what makes me worried. They have a rich history of stinking up the joint on draft day. Consider this: At the beginning of 2007, they did not have a single player that they had drafted in the ’90s in their organization, making them the only team that could make such a claim. They had three first round picks in 2003, and completely biffed on two of them. Unless, of course, you were happy that they selected Jeff Tambellini, which enabled the Ducks to pick Corey Perry with the very next pick. And when’s the last time you heard of Lauri Tukonen? Also, let’s not forget about the wall of grief that crushed them when they reached to nab Hickey. Now, they have made some good draft selections over the past few years; unfortunately, most of those players ended up developing on other teams (Olli Jokenen, anyone?)
With all of that being said, they did prove themselves capable of drafting wisely last year with the selections of Doughty and Colton Teubert. Will this translate to them selecting a power forward like Luke Schenn’s little brother Braydon, or a potential NHL-ready European like Sweeden’s Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi? I certainly hope so — indeed, if either of those players are available, they need to snap them up post haste. After all, what good is a solid defense and great goaltending in the post dead-puck era when you can barely average 2 goals a game? However, given the Kings rich history of doing the wrong thing over the summer, I’ll prepare for the great possibility of a bad decision being made.