Draft day has been about the dullest one of the year for the Kings in recent seasons. At least the opening day of the NHL’s annual stockpiling of 18-year-old prospects, anyway. After all, the Kings haven’t had a first-round pick the past two years, or three of the past four, or four of the past six.
This time it’s different.
Barring a trade, the Kings on Friday not only will have a first-round selection, but a high first-round selection, something they haven’t had since picking center Brayden Schenn fifth overall in 2009. The Kings will make the 11th selection Friday at the United Center in Chicago.
Unprecedented success over a three-season span that included Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014 was only partly to blame for the Kings’ lack of first-round picks. Former general manager Dean Lombardi could have opted to keep his picks, but dealt them in an attempt to rebuild on the fly.
Dynasties are tough to build and maintain in the salary-cap era, though.
The Kings came close with two Stanley Cup wins sandwiching a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2013, but then they faded from championship contention and missed the playoffs twice in the next three seasons. Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter were fired at the end of 2016-17.
Rob Blake, the Kings’ new GM, gets his first crack at rebuilding the club from the ground up.
At first glance, the Kings could use an influx of players with the skills and smarts to play in a faster and more offensively dynamic NHL than the one they dominated with defensive brute force during their three-season reign at or near the top of the league.
Scoring is sexy again.
Creativity is cool.
“I don’t think it’s any secret we’re looking for offense,” Blake said. “With the 11th pick, you’re going to get a quality player. I don’t think anything really changes (in the Kings’ approach). We’re excited for the opportunity to have a higher pick than we have had in the past.”
Some mock drafts have the…