Kings European prospects 2009-10 review

By Josh Deitell

With only two prospects suiting up for European teams this past season, both of them 2006 picks who are long shots to make it to the NHL, it’s safe to say that Kings management is not especially fond of drafting players from across the pond. The only European players the Kings have drafted since 2006, Andrei Loktionov and Vyacheslav Voynov, were both brought over immediately to play North American hockey, illustrating a propensity on the Kings part to avoid wasting their picks on players who may never play for them.

Constantin Braun, D — Eisbären Berlin (DEL)

Drafted: 6th round (146th overall), 2006
6’2”, 196 lbs
b. 1988-03-11 (22 years old)

Though he was once a mediocre gritty forward, Braun’s recent conversion to defenseman makes him a more intriguing prospect, with two-way ability. Despite the move to the back end, Braun set career highs in assists and points and matched his career high in goals with 18 points in 40 games this year for Eisbären Berlin of the DEL.

Though any type of position change that occurs in the midst of a player’s career requires heavy refinement, Braun’s participation in Kings development camp this summer indicates that he is still considered a viable prospect by the team, and that they are willing to help him in his transition. Considering Dean Lombardi’s past success with DEL players and the way Braun has maintained his level of play despite the position change, look for the Kings to continue to monitor Braun’s progress indefinitely, though he still needs to show much improvement in his all-around game to be considered worthy of a contract.

Niclas Andersen, D — Brynäs IF (SEL)

Drafted: 4th round (114th overall), 2006
6’0”, 200 lbs
b. 1988-04-28 (21 years old)

Though his season was cut short by a shoulder injury, Andersen continued to play an important stopper role for Brynäs this year, and also scored the first three goals of his Swedish Elite League career. Though his six points in 42 games on the year were two shy of his career high of eight, posted in 55 games during the 2008-09 season, he is not a player who is depended on for his offensive production. More important is the improvement in his discipline, evidenced by the halving of his penalty minute numbers from 60 from last year to 28 this season. Despite the fact that he suited up in 13 fewer games in 2009-10, he took an average of one minor in every three games this year, whereas the year before he committed one every other contest.

Despite whatever progress he has made in the SEL, Andersen has not participated in the past two development camps held by the Kings, which is reason alone to suspect that he is not in the team’s plans. At almost 22, there’s the possibility that he carves himself out a role as a depth defensive defenseman in the NHL someday, but that’s assuming that he wants to give up guaranteed money to play key minutes for a team in his home country to take a risk and come across the pond, and there have been no indications that he desires to do so.