LA Kings: Three-round mock draft with emphasis on defense

(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Draft James Malatesta
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James Malatesta, LW

A forward from the QMJHL, Malatesta is great value in the third round. He’s slightly undersized at 5’9″ 179 lbs, but forwards like Brayden Point and Alex DeBrincat prove you don’t have to be the biggest player on the ice to make an impact.

The Pointe-Claire, Quebec native, tallied 23 goals and 45 points in 59 games during his rookie campaign with the Remparts. He didn’t take the next step in his draft year, recording 10 goals and 23 assists in 32 games this past season.

Regardless, there’s a lot to like about his game. In addition to being an excellent skater, Malatesta is so versatile in how he scores. He has a precise shot from distance, and he cleaned up a fair amount of pucks in front of the net.

"Malatesta has speed to burn, great overall mobility, and a motor that never stops running. His speed pressures the opposition in multiple ways, whether it be getting in to disrupt a play on the forecheck, backing off defenders to create space in transition, or simply blowing by a defenceman on the rush. – Dobber Prospects/Richard"

David Gucciardi, D

Gucciardi is committed to Michigan State for the 2021-22 season. The Toronto, Ontario native stands at 5’11” and 161 lbs, with room to fill out his frame. He’s a left-shot defenseman who played with four different USHL clubs in the last two seasons. Gucciardi found the most success this past season after being traded from Youngstown to Waterloo.

There, the 18-year-old put up career numbers, with seven goals and ten assists in only 29 games. He finished third in points among Waterloo blueliners, despite playing in half a season.

Gucciardi is an excellent skater, but he has the propensity to make some key mistakes with the puck, turning the puck over in his own zone or making a poor pass. He’s a powerplay specialist, accumulating three goals and four assists during his time in Waterloo. His tendencies to turn the puck over can be cleaned up as he continues to develop under head coach Danton Cole in East Lansing.

"Gucciardi is a talented offensive defenseman, who can make crisp passes, has a strong shot, and isn’t afraid to play tough along the boards even though he is just 5-foot-11. On the negative side, when he is put under pressure, he will sometimes panic and make an ill-advised pass or shot that kills the momentum of his team. – The Hockey Writers/Helfrick"

Would you be happy with this draft?

Screenshot 2021-06-09 7.46.58 PM
Screenshot 2021-06-09 7.46.58 PM /