Los Angeles Kings 2012 draft preview

By Andrew Knoll

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.

Top 10 Prospects:

1. Slava Voynovv, D
2. Tyler Toffoli, RW
3. Andrei Loktionov, C
4. Jake Muzzin, D
5. Derek Forbort, D
6. Linden Vey, RW
7. Dwight King, LW
8. Jordan Nolan, F
9. Martin Jones, G
10. Nick Shore, C

Team Needs

The Kings have pared down their prospect pool considerably by way of trades and graduations. Their depth at center is suspect at the lower levels, although their main roster featured seven natural centermen this season. Overall, they are not glaringly thin in any area. They could stand to add potential high-end talent as well as bankable role players to fill bottom-six and third-pairing slots.

Organizational Strengths

Once brimming with defensive depth, the Kings are still above average in that area from middle to bottom while fielding a superlative corps at the top level. They have some promising wingers in Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey. In goal, they have well above average depth with a pair of proven AHL performers, a raw but intriguing CHL prospect in Chris Gibson, and even a respectable ECHL goalie in Jean Francois-Berube.

Organizational Weaknesses

The Kings do not have a player that projects clearly as a top-six forward or No. 1/No. 2 defenseman at this point in time. While they are deep in net, both Martin Jones and Jeff Zatkoff seem to be nearing impasses with the organization. In short, the Kings have mostly plucked the clear-cut pros-whether potential stars or solid role players-from their lower levels and will need to restock over the next couple of drafts.

Draft Tendencies

The organization is huge on character, whether they select versatile players in leadership roles like Nick Shore and Dwight King or talented players who are still finding their way like Jake Muzzin and Jordan Nolan. They have favored North American players somewhat heavily of late but also pulled gems like Slava Voynov and Andrei Loktionov out of Russia. Players from elsewhere in Europe have generally fallen off the Kings' radar in recent years.

The Kings own the 30th, 121st, 151st, 171st, 181st, 183rd and 211th picks in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Hockey's Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

The Kings have found themselves with suddenly solidified depth on the wings and respectable defensive prospect depth behind one of the best defense corps in the NHL. Where they are perhaps a bit thin is up the middle, with a bit of uncertainty going forward outside of their top two centers on the big club. Laughton gives them the sort of prospect they have coveted and tended to select in recent years. He is hard-working, physical, versatile, and uncomfortable to play against. Laughton is also a guy who might be on the verge of a breakout after a disappointing rookie campaign and a slow start to his second year in the OHL. While he doesn't project as a copious scorer at the top level, his junior numbers may spike before he finishes his career in Oshawa. Tough, selfless, and heady, Laughton fits the Kings' mold as well as their needs.