Kings: 2003 draft review

By David A. Rainer

Los Angeles entered the 2003 NHL Entry Draft with three selections in the first
round and came away with a king’s ransom in offensive talent. For the first time
in club history, the Kings did not draft a defenseman; instead taking eight
forwards and two goalies. Six draftees will be playing NCAA hockey in the fall,
two will skate in the OHL, one will be competing in Russia, and one in the
Finnish Elite League.

Dustin Brown (RW), 1st Round #13 overall
6’0” 195, Guelph (OHL)

Entering the draft, the Kings had the luxury of considering a package of numerous
first round picks to try to move up into the top ten. But when it
became apparent that one of the top forwards in the draft would slip to them at
#13, the Kings jumped at the opportunity to use their first selection on Brown.

When faced with the thought of coming to sunny Southern California: “I’m
pretty excited about it. Big city, good atmosphere. The farthest west I’ve
been is Calgary, Alberta.”

Rated 8th among all prospects by Hockey’s Future, Brown is a determined skater
who is most dangerous when driving to the net. He possesses natural scoring
ability, is strong on his skates and good in the corners. He’s known to be a
battler who will fight the opposition for every inch of the ice. When asked to
whom his game best compares, “I don’t compare, but people tell me Bill
Guerin a little bit.”

Brown led Guelph in goals (34) and points (76) while being named the OHL
Scholastic Player of the Year in 2003. He also represented the United States
during the 2002 World Junior Championships where he registered a goal and three
assists.

Brian Boyle (C), 1st Round #26 overall
6’7” 222, St. Sebastian’s (USHS)

With three first round selections, the Kings could afford to maybe take a bit of
a gamble. Early projections had Boyle taken in the second round, but the Kings
could not pass up on a kid with such good raw skills at that size.

Boyle registered 63 points in 31 games playing for St. Sebastian’s High School
in Massachusetts. He is a good skater with great hands and an innate offensive
understanding that is rare in prospects of his size. He is a superb athlete
having played baseball and basketball at St. Sebastian’s.

Boyle was invited to join the US Under-18 development program but decided to
attend Boston College in the fall and will likely see significant playing time
as a freshman.

Jeff Tambellini (LW), 1st Round #27 overall
5’11” 185, Univ. of Michigan (NCAA)

With the last of their first round choices, the Kings selected yet another
forward. Tambellini, son of former NHLer Steve Tambellini, was one of the top
scoring freshmen in all of college hockey.

“It’s the best feeling in the world right now,” exclaimed Tambellini after
being chosen. “I walked up on the stage and Mr. Bettman says, ‘Welcome to
the NHL’. To hear those words, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Tambellini is a tremendous playmaker with an excellent shot and outstanding
skating ability. Thought by many to be one of the fastest skaters in the draft,
he is also solid on defense and a competitor all the way. He said, “To be a
complete player is so important, because in today’s game you have to be so
sound in both ends of the ice. You don’t get that opportunity to perform in
the offensive zone if you can’t be reliable in the defensive zone.”

Tambellini led the Michigan Wolverines with 26 goals and 45 points on way to
being named the CCHA Rookie of the Year. He has stated that he will be going
back to Michigan in the fall.

Konstantin Pushkaryov (RW), 2nd Round #44 overall
6’0” 170, Ust Kamenogorsk (Russia)

Going into the U18 World Junior Championships, Pushkaryov was a relatively
unknown. After posting nine goals to tie him with Alexander Ovechkin for the
tournament lead, he soon gained recognition. The Kings fought off numerous
suitors to take Pushkaryov with their second round pick.

Pushkaryov is a great skater with the ability to score from practically anywhere
on the ice. He plays with an aggressiveness that constantly challenges the
opposition to find some way to slow him down. When he’s not finding the seams
and breaking off a wrist shot, he’s driving to the net to make something
happen.

A member of Team Kazakhstan for the U18 and U20 World Junior Championships,
Pushkaryov excelled against international competition. He spent the 2002-03
season racking up points in the Russian 1st League, earning himself a four game
stint in the Upper League. Pushkaryov enters this season looking to demonstrate
his skills against better competition as he moves up the ranks of the Russian
hockey leagues.

Ryan Munce (G), 3rd Round #82 overall
6’2” 180, Sarnia (OHL)

One of the most pressing concerns for the Kings organization going into this
draft was the lack of top goalie prospects in the system. With their third round
choice, the Kings selected possibly the second best goalie in the draft behind
only no.1 overall choice Marc Andre Fleury.

Munce plays a strong positional game, remaining square to the shooter and
effectively controls the rebound. He utilizes a self-described “half stand-up,
half butterfly” style that emphasizes sound positioning over staying low to
the ice, “If I don’t have to go down, I won’t, since it kind of takes you
out of position.”

Munce just completed his first season for Sarnia of the OHL finishing fourth in
goals-against average (2.64) and save percentage (.916). He led Team Canada to
the Gold Medal in the 2003 U18 World Junior Championship while posting a 1.83
goals-against average. Munce will be returning to Sarnia next season.

Brady Murray (C), 5th Round #152 overall
5’9” 165, Salmon Arm (BCHL)

Many remember Murray as an invitee to the Kings Prospect Camp. With their fifth
round choice, Murray was made an official Kings prospect.

Murray has good speed and great skating balance and maneuverability. Adept at
finding the seams in a defense, Murray can carry the puck from goal-line to
goal-line, displaying speed and stickhandling, and finish the play with an
accurate shot and quick wrists.

Murray starred with Salmon Arm of the BCHL, scoring 42 goals and 101 points in
59 games during the 2002-03 season. He has committed to play at the Univ. of
North Dakota this coming season.

Esa Pirnes (C), 6th Round #174 overall
6’0” 190, Tappara (Finland)

Pirnes is a defensively responsible forward with a great scoring touch and good
stickhandling skills. Despite average size, Pirnes is not afraid to battle in
the corners or go to the net.

Pirnes won the Jari Kurri Trophy for playoff MVP while leading Tappara to the
Finish league’s championship this past season. He also tallied five points in
six games playing for Team Finland during the 2003 World Hockey Championship.

Matt Zaba (G), 8th Round #231 overall
6’1” 168, Vernon (BCHL)

The Kings selected their second goalie of the draft with the 231st overall pick.

Zaba posted a regular season record of 34-9 with a 2.21 goals-against average
and a .930 save percentage en route to being named MVP. He later led Vernon to a
championship with a 14-2 playoff record with a 1.50 GAA and .944 SV%. Zaba will
attend Colorado College in the fall.

Mike Sullivan (C), 8th Round #244 overall
6’4” 190, Stouffville (OPJA)

Sullivan is the power forward of the future. Already possessing a large frame
and good on-ice vision, Sullivan needs to add a few pounds of muscle. Sullivan
recorded 64 points in 49 games, including 9 game winning goals, while playing
for Stouffville of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.

He will have the opportunity to develop while playing for Clarkson University,
Dave Taylor’s alma mater.

Martin Guerin (RW), 9th Round #274 overall
6’1” 190, Des Moines (USHL)

Martin was the inspirational captain of Des Moines in 2002-03. He was 2nd in
goals (27), assists (33) and points (60). He led the team with a +14; the next
closest +/- being a +6. He’s a quick skater who finds the open spots on the
ice creating good scoring opportunities.

Guerin will play alongside fellow Kings prospect Greg Hogeboom at the Univ. of
Miami, OH in the fall.

Draft Day Trades:
1.) 4th round pick (#129 overall) in 2003 and 2nd round pick in 2004 to Boston
for Jozef Stumpel and 7th round pick (#247 overall) in 2003.

2.) 9th round pick (#283 overall) in 2003 to Columbus for 9th round pick in
2004.

3.) Two 7th round picks (#210 and 213 overall) in 2003 to Nashville for 6th
round pick (#174 overall) in 2003.