Selected in the 5th Round by the Los Angeles Kings, Kevin Gravel is an interesting prospect for the franchise. As you might expect for a player picked in the 5th round (148th overall), Kevin Gravel is far from a sure-thing prospect, and in fact has flown under the radar of all but the most diehard fans prior to his selection. Indeed, he may even remain a bit of a mystery, and that’s why we’re going to take a look at Kevin Gravel and his selection by the Los Angeles Kings in last months NHL Entry Draft.
Listed at 6’4″ and 175 lbs, Kevin Gravel is anything but a small defenseman. He provides some significant size on the blue line, and can hopefully build a strong physical aspect to his game to help balance against the somewhat more offensive stylings of a player like Thomas Hickey or even Drew Doughty. Gravel was a rookie in the USHL in 2009-2010 and played with the Sioux City Muskateers for 53 games. Gravel only netted three goals and three assists for six points in those games, demonstrating his somewhat limited offensive potential. In fact in an interview with McKeen’s hockey, he admitted as much:
I’m a defense-first kind of guy. I think I’m pretty reliable in the defensive zone. I try to make that good first pass to breakout. Then, I skate pretty well for my size. So, like I said, I try to move my feet a little bit and make some plays, but I’m a defense-first kind of guy.
This is not a knock on his potential, as Gravel has quite good skating for his size, even if it isn’t quite as impressive as some of his smaller counterparts. He was listed as the #70 North American skater prospect, and was selected at #148, which certainly makes it seem like it was a value selection. One of his biggest strengths across the board seems to be his defensive positioning, which as you might imagine is vital for success in the NHL. The ability to know where to be, and when is perhaps the most underrated skill in all of professional sports, and that skill is even more important for an NHL defenseman.
So what’s next for Gravel? Well he’s committed to St. Cloud State for next season, so he’ll be toiling away in Minnesota for the foreseeable future, especially since he is certainly a work in progress. It’s likely we won’t be seeing him in any serious capacity in Los Angeles for at least three or four years, and potentially more. With any luck he’ll learn to develop his offensive game just a bit while at St. Cloud State, while maintaining his responsible and physical defensive play.
What do you think about the selection? Think he was the 148th best player available in the draft?