For the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings the summer has lacked the traditional free agent buzz and brew. There was no hype surrounding the prospect of landing a big name free agent – Ilya Kovalchuk, anyone? – because you don’t mess with the chemistry of a team that has just won the most revered trophy in sports. But certain things do take place in a quiet offseason, namely the NHL Entry Draft and the subsequent signings of those who are drafted.
Enter 6 foot 198 pound Tanner Pearson forward for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. The Kings’ first round pick has agreed to a three year entry-level contract and, at age 20, would be eligible to play the upcoming season in the AHL for the Monarchs. In 60 regular season games Pearson tallied 37 goals and 54 assists good for third highest scoring forward in the OHL. Unfortunately he suffered a broken fibula and was sidelined throughout the playoffs. According to NHL central scouting Tanner Pearson plays like Carolina Hurricane legend Ron Francis although comparing a 20 year old to a Hall-of-Fame inductee for ranking purposes is hardly fair and a little premature.
The road to being drafted by the LA Kings was not entirely smooth sailing for the Kitchener native. He was passed over in the 2010 and 2011 entry drafts, but with hard work and determination was able to rise to the top of the Ontario Hockey League in scoring making him a lock for the 2012 version.
Even with advanced scouting systems in place success or failure is difficult to predict with precision accuracy, as there is always some element of risk involved with any athlete. However, there is always room for optimism – just look at the Kings’ 171st overall pick in the 1984 draft who turned out to be “Lucky” Luc Robitaille the most prolific left wing in franchise history.