Kings take forward Gabe Vilardi with first-round pick in NHL draft – Orange County Register

EL SEGUNDO — The Kings made no secret of their intentions going into the first round of the NHL draft Friday in Chicago. They wanted an offensive player, someone with the skills and creativity to help revive a team that ranked near the bottom of the league offensively last season.

Gabe Vilardi might not help the Kings next season, but they hope the 17-year-old can provide them with another offensive threat sooner rather than later. The Kings selected him 11th overall, making him their first first-round pick since 2014.

The Kings have seven selections in the remaining rounds of the draft Saturday, including two picks in each of the fourth and fifth rounds. Baring any trades, their selections will be 41st, 72nd, 103rd, 118th, 134th, 138th and 165th. They don’t have a seventh-round pick.

“It was very refreshing. It’s been a while since we’ve been on the stage as a group and really added to our skill set,” said Mike Futa, the Kings’ assistant general manager. “We’re looking for a bunch of opportunities to add skill and, clearly, we made a huge step in that direction today.”

Vilardi, a 6-foot-3 center, scored 29 goals and 61 points in 49 games last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the junior-level Ontario Hockey League. He also had two goals and six points in seven games for the Memorial Cup-winning Spitfires last month.

Concerns about his skating ability prompted him to drop several slots in the draft.

The Kings were thrilled to get him, though.

“We were looking to upgrade our skill,” Futa said. “This kid, it’s a package. He’s a big kid with an incredible skill set, and he’s a winner. Our guys have him as an average-plus skater. He’s not a blazer, but he’s never had a problem getting around the ice.

“When you’re looking at your (potential draft) list, we had high much higher and it was a big emotion when we were sitting there (and Vilardi fell to 11th). It’s just one of those things where you have to trust your list….

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