The time has finally come. The 2019 NHL Entry Draft officially commences on Friday night in Vancouver, and the Los Angeles Kings are armed with the fifth overall pick, the highest pick they’ve had since drafting Drew Doughty in 2008. Regardless of who general manager Rob Blake chooses to select, let’s hope that his picks flourish in Southern California.
What we do know is that things don’t always end working out with first- round picks, and the Kings can attest to this. On that note, what better time than now to take a painful walk down memory lane and crown the biggest draft bust in LA Kings history?
The Top Contenders
Jens Karlsson – LW – Vastra Frolunda (SEL)
Selected 18th overall in the 2001 NHL Draft
Karlsson failed to play a single game in the NHL, let alone for the Kings. Viewed as a power forward who could easily integrate his 6-foot-3, 213-pound frame into the NHL, Karlsson did the opposite. The winger followed up a 24-goal campaign in 1999-2000 for Vastra Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League with single-digit-goal seasons over the next five seasons in Sweden. Talk about a one-season wonder.
Colten Teubert – D – Regina Pats (WHL)
Selected 13th overall in the 2008 NHL Draft
The 2008 NHL Entry Draft was a resounding success for the Kings, as the team used the second overall pick to select all-world defender, Doughty. That worked out rather well. Unfortunately, the team decided to double down on defenders (say that five times fast) in the first round and selected Teubert with its other first-round choice, 13th overall.
Much like Karlsson, the ex-Regina Pat failed to make a single appearance for the Kings, but did register 24 NHL games for the Edmonton Oilers in 2011-12. Standing at 6-foot-4, Teubert was viewed as a potential shutdown defender with limited offensive ability. Well, it looks like experts got half of that right.
Craig Duncanson – LW – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Selected ninth overall in the 1985 NHL Draft
Duncanson was a bruising winger who managed to tally an impressive 73 goals in his first two seasons with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. Unfortunately, that did not exactly translate to production at the next level. He managed a paltry five NHL goals, three with the Kings, over the course of an unimpressive 11-year professional career. What was equally unimpressive was that Duncanson was not the only flop selected by the Kings in the first round that year.
Dan Gratton – C – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Selected 10th overall in the 1985 NHL Draft
The Kings decided to use their second of back-to-back picks on the talented center from the Oshawa Generals. The intent was likely to pair him and Duncanson together on the same line and dominate the league for the foreseeable future. Sadly, Gratton only played a total of seven games for the Kings and tallied a meager one goal. Regardless, the Kings’ social media team felt the need to be nostalgic about Gratton’s storied Kings career via their Twitter account:
Lauri Tukonen – RW – Blues (SM-liiga)
Selected 11th overall in the 2004 NHL Draft
What drew scouts to Tukonen of the Blues in Finland was his appetizing 6-foot-2 frame coupled with soft hands and nifty stick-handling ability. Despite only scoring eight goals in two seasons in Finland, he was one of the youngest players in the SM-liiga and was slated to become a robust winger once he matured years down the road. Well, we are still waiting for this maturation process to come to fruition. Tukonen failed to register a single point in five career games with the Kings, and was subsequently jettisoned back to his motherland as a result.
Thomas Hickey – D – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Selected fourth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft
Yes, Hickey is an active NHLer who has managed to play a total of 449 NHL games—all with the New York Islanders. Heck, he even enjoyed a very successful 2017-18 season on Long Island with a plus-20 rating, on a pretty bad team no less.
The fact of the matter is despite knocking on the Kings’ door while playing five seasons with the Manchester Monarchs, he failed to play a single game for the silver and black. Viewed as a next-level, puck-moving defender with speed, Hickey was drafted ahead of perennial All-Stars Jakub Voracek and Ryan McDonagh. It would be scary to see how good the Kings might have been with either of those players.
Aki-Petteri Berg – D – TPS Turku (SM-liiga)
Selected third overall in the 1995 NHL Draft
The 1995 NHL Draft was all about the “big three”, defenders that consisted of Bryan Berard, Wade Redden and Aki-Petteri Berg. As expected, Berard and Redden went one-two, which made Berg the logical Kings pick at third overall. Scouts became infatuated with his hulking 6-foot-4 frame and felt that he had raw offensive tools that could be cultivated into something special.
Suffice it to say, that did not materialize. He managed to play four seasons with the Kings, registering a feeble five goals. Much like Hickey, Berg did somewhat salvage his NHL career with a change of scenery after being dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The most painful part of the Berg draft pick is that there were a pair of future Hall-of-Fame wingers named Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla available to the Kings.
Wayne McBean – D – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Selected fourth overall in the 1987 NHL Draft
Although there are several deserving candidates, McBean takes the crown for the biggest draft bust in Kings history in my books. With the likes of Pierre Turgeon, Brendan Shanahan, and Glen Wesley selected directly ahead of McBean, it is a colossal disappointment that the defender only managed a measly 60 games for the Kings, without registering a single goal no less.
Projected to be an elite offensive defenseman, the Medicine Hat Tiger product tallied a disappointing 10 goals in 211 career NHL games. To further rub salt in the wound, Joe Sakic was selected 15th overall in that particular draft. Ouch.