The Los Angeles Kings were poised to add some quality players to their system last weekend, and that is exactly what they did. The Kings pulled some suprises, but left Florida with exactly what they wanted- a combination of size, speed, skill and goaltending- some that can contribute right away.
The Kings used the 18th selection on 18 year-old Swedish right winger Jens Karlsson. Karlsson had slipped down the draftboard on many teams’ lists because of a somewhat “off” season last year. Two years ago, Jens was listed among the top potential Euro’s in the 2001 draft and this potential is what lead the Kings to nab him in the first round. Many feel Karlsson has the protoypical NHL game and can give the Kings the power forward they have coveted for so long, Karlsson has a nasty streak as evidenced by his 185 penalty minutes in the Swedish Junior league last season.
The 30th selection was used to draft Ohio State freshman David Steckel. The hulking center from West Bend, Wisconsin had 35 points in 32 games for OSU in his freshman season. Steckel is a worker and a potentially powerful player. At 6-5, 200 pounds, Steckel is another piece of the puzzle that the Kings have yearned for- a big, playmaking, nasty center.
After seeing what Adam Deadmarsh’s style did for the team this season, the King’s mission seems clear. They want gritty forwards, preferably with size. If you look at the last two drafts, you could potentially see a line of 6-3 Frolov, 6-3 Karlsson and 6-5 Steckel. While you never know when these players will arrive, the potential of something like that line is compelling. The Kings will also get a longer opportunity to sign these players since they are college and European players.
The Kings second round pick of Mike Cammalleri gives them some skill in a smallish player. Cammalleri had 61 points in 42 games last season, including 29 goals. Again- a college player.
In my opinion, the steal of the draft may have been the Czech center Jaroslav Bednar (second round- 51st pick). Bednar is 24 years old and comes to the Kings in the same style that Lubomir Visnovsky and Frankie Kaberle did- youngish players, drafted after the first round, ready to contribute right away. Bednar plays a solid game and gives the Kings two things right away- a contributing, top-six forward and the potential to contribute that allowed the Kings to take a slight risk in grabbing Jens Karlsson where they did. I give Dave Taylor alot of credit for continuing to add young but immediate help at this stage of the draft.
All in all, the Kings draft was very solid. They filled needs and seem to be following a solid game plan. Also, with 11 picks, they have again added talent to a once struggling system. Here are the Kings picks:
Round 1 (18)- 6-3 RW Jens Karlsson- Sweden
Round 1 (30)- 6-5 C David Steckel- Ohio State
Round 2 (49)- 5-10 C Mike Cammalleri- Michigan
Round 2 (51)- 6-0 C Jaroslav Bednar- Czech Republic
Round 3 (83)- 6-2 RW Henrik Juntunen- Finland
Round 4 (116)- 6-2 D Richard Petiot- Camrose (AJHL)
Round 5 (152)- 6-2 G Terry Denike- Weyburn (SJHL)
Round 5 (153)- 5-9 D Tuukka Mantyla- Finland
Round 7 (214)- 6-0 G Cristobal Huet- Lugano (SEL)
Round 8 (237)- 6-3 D Mike Gabinet- Nebraska-Omaha(CCHA)
Round 9 (277)- 5-10 G Sebastian Laplante- Rayside-Belfour (NOJHA)
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