The Los Angeles Kings had one of the best showings at the 2019 NHL Draft, making four picks in the top-50. The team benefited from some strong prospects sliding down the board and took advantage. Overall, the Kings made nine picks in this year’s draft and spread the wealth quite a bit, selecting one goaltender, four forwards, and four defensemen.
Alex Turcotte – Forward – 5th Overall
With such a strong draft class, it would’ve been hard to make a solid choice with a top-five pick, but Los Angeles nailed this one. Alex Turcotte was a consensus top-five prospect and could’ve easily gone third-overall to the Chicago Blackhawks. The 18-year-old center was touted as the best two-way forward in the draft and he’s proved it at every level so far. Between exhibition and USHL action, Turcotte tallied 27 goals and 62 points in 37 contests last season.
The son of Alfie Turcotte, a first-round pick in the 1983 NHL Draft, Alex currently weighs in at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, giving him room to grow and fill out a bit. He’ll get that chance at the University of Wisconsin starting next season. Turcotte checks off nearly every box but could stand to improve his shot. If he develops a more consistent, hard shot, he could become a legitimate top-line forward at the NHL level.
Tobias Björnfot – Defenseman – 22nd Overall
The Kings acquired the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round pick in January when the team sent blueliner Jake Muzzin to the Eastern Conference. It’s only natural that they used that pick to select a new defenseman, the 18-year-old Tobias Björnfot. The 6-foot, 202-pound Swede totalled 17 goals and 44 points in 81 games over the last two seasons with his junior club, Djurgårdens of the SuperElit league.
He made his Swedish Hockey League debut last season, being held without a point in seven games. Björnfot also captained the gold-medal winning Swedish U18 team in the World Juniors tournament. While his advanced skating and shooting abilities give him some offensive upside, he’s more valued for his defensive work. His big frame will continue to fill out, giving him the strength he needs to be a future top pairing blueliner.
Arthur Kaliyev – Forward – 33rd Overall
The Kings might have ended up with the steal of the draft with Arthur Kaliyev early in the second round. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound winger will turn 18-years old later this week but has already turned heads with his electrifying performance in the Ontario Hockey League last season. In 67 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, Kaliyev terrorized opposing goaltenders on his way to scoring 51 goals and 102 points.
Many expected Kaliyev to be a top-20 pick with his elite offensive upside and TSN’s Craig Button had him ranked 13th. However, concerns over his compete level and defensive abilities caused him to slide into the second round. The Kings didn’t mind, though; when a player with a lethal release and strong skating skills falls that far, he’s well worth the risk.
Samuel Fagemo – Forward – 50th Overall
With the Montreal Canadiens on the clock, Los Angeles traded away the 64th and 126th overall selections to move back into the top-50. The 19-year-old winger is coming off a 14-goal, 25-point campaign with Frölunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League. His club also went on to win the league’s championship, where Fagemo would tally another six goals and 10 points in 16 contests.
The Swedish winger went undrafted last season but really improved his game during the 2018-19 campaign. At present, he has a very well-rounded skillset between his offensive IQ, shooting, and skating, even if none of those project to be at an elite level. Fagemo gets plenty of opportunities around the net with his driving play.
Lukas Parik – Goaltender – 87th Overall
Late in the third round, Los Angeles snagged Czech netminder Lukas Parik, the eighth goalie off the board in 2019. The 18-year-old was the third-ranked European goaltender according to the NHL Central Scouting rankings. He spent most of last season playing in the Czech U19 league where he posted a 2.85 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
Parik moved up draft boards after his performance at the 2019 World Juniors Championship. His 3.54 GAA and .924 save percentage aren’t too impressive, but he had to carry a pretty heavy load on a less-than-impressive Czech roster. At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, he covers the net well with strong lateral movement. Like Fagemo, Parik doesn’t have many top-tier skills, but his overall game looks fairly polished.
Jordan Spence – Defenseman – 95th Overall
After Parik, the Kings selected three straight blueliners, starting with the 2018-19 QMJHL Rookie of the Year winner, Jordan Spence. Coming in at 74th-overall in Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings, the 18-year-old scored six goals and 49 points in 68 games during his award-winning season.
Spence was a member of Canada’s World Juniors roster, notching a goal and three points in seven appearances. He’s certainly undersized at just 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, but his offensive awareness and playmaking abilities help pick up the slack. Spence may never be a shutdown defenseman, but if his skating continues to grow, he could be a regular bottom-four blueliner at the NHL level.
Kim Nousiainen – Defenseman – 119th Overall
Speaking of undersized blueliners, the Kings added Kim Nousiainen to their draft class near the end of the fourth round. The 18-year-old stands at just 5-foot-10, 170 pounds but, like most small defensemen, he has a bit of offensive upside. He notched eight goals and 28 points in 32 games in the junior ranks before moving up to the Finnish Elite League. Nousiainen is a solid skater that positions himself well, but there are questions over overall ice vision and physicality.
Braden Doyle – Defenseman – 157th Overall
Braden Doyle won’t turn 18 years old until late August, making him one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft. Last year, he received an award from the Boston Bruins for being the top high school/junior hockey player in Eastern Massachusetts. The 6-foot, 168-pound defenseman will attend Boston University starting in 2021.
It’s hard to really pin down Doyle’s potential because he’s still such a raw prospect. He figures to have some offensive potential and will hopefully improve his defensive positioning and strength at the collegiate level.
Andre Lee – Forward – 188th Overall
With their final pick of the weekend, the Kings selected a highly intriguing forward in Andre Lee. Already measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, the 18-year-old possesses a decent level of skill for a big winger. He notched 20 goals and 35 points during the regular season for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. Lee added another six goals and 11 points en route to winning the league’s Clark Cup.
It was his first year playing North American hockey after coming over from Sweden’s junior-league circuit. Starting next season, he will attend the UMass-Lowell, a school that had produced a few current NHL regulars such as Ron Hainsey, Scott Wilson, and Christian Folin. If Lee can hone in on his skating skills and overall hockey IQ at the collegiate level, he could be a steal as a seventh-rounder.
Tyler Bowen is a University of South Florida graduate and lifelong hockey fan. Tyler covers the Pittsburgh Penguins for thehockeywriters.com. You can usually find him obsessing over his fantasy teams and looking for his next gambling tip.