Photo: Los Angeles Kings prospect Paul Ladue will play at the University of North Dakota starting in the fall of 2013 (courtesy of Kim Fogle/Lincoln Stars)
During the 2010-11 season, defenseman Paul LaDue was playing for the Alexandria Blizzard of the North American Hockey League, a Tier II junior league known more for producing players for the NCAA rather than the NHL. Just a year later, on June 23rd of this year, he heard his name called at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
Tanner Pearson parlayed a breakout OHL campaign for the Barrie Colts into a first-round selection and entry-level contract with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. (courtesy of CHL Images)
Winning the Stanley Cup is a proud moment for an the entire organization from top to bottom, but while the players, coaching staff, and upper management get much of the publicized credit, scouting and development personnel rarely get their due praise.
Photo: Winger Tyler Toffoli is one of the top offensive prospects in the Kings system. Toffoli managed 52 goals in 65 OHL games in 2011-12. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Thanks to graduations and trades, Thomas Hickey was the only former first-round pick among the Los Angeles Kings’ prospects last season. Thin on high-profile selections, the Kings system was replete with well-rounded players seeking to strengthen their identity to carve niches at the next level. However, it was also brimming with character, industriousness, and a number of players who exceeded expectations. Shifting from high selections and home-run swings, the Kings have sought to invest later selections shrewdly as they have solidified their pro roster, which captured the Stanley Cup this past season.
Photo: The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings added quality to their organizational depth with top pick Tanner Pearson of the Barrie Colts (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The Los Angeles Kings were light on picks after investing heavily into the roster that won them a Stanley Cup this past season. Still, they managed to snag some versatile forwards at the 2012 NHL Draft, as well as some intriguing talent on the blue line, almost all of which flew under the radar.
Photo: Goaltender Chris Gibson fields questions with the media shortly after be selected by the Los Angeles Kings 49th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft. Gibson is part of a large group of very talented young goaltenders in the Kings system. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
Over the past year, the Los Angeles Kings
shifted their philosophy from stockpiling young talent to selling it off for reliable roster players. Heading into the playoffs, the eighth-seeded Kings had bet the farm on what appeared to be a losing proposition. They entered the post-season as a bottom seed whose first pick in the 2012 draft was at 121. That changed, however, as they completed an improbable run to a Stanley Cup championship, which also will likely result in the Columbus Blue Jackets
exercising the option to take their 2013 pick. The Kings will now have the final selection in this year's first round as well as six late picks, which they have invested wisely with in recent years.