Each draft day we hope and pray that our GM and scouts gets things right, selecting impact players early and sleeper talent in the later rounds. Unfortunately, we know that we can’t always have the “best draft ever”, or find a Pavel Datsyuk in every sixth round.
In recent years, Dean Lombardi, and the Kings scouting department, have had some of the better drafts in team history. Of course it’s not hard to be better than most Kings GM’s, considering how poor Los Angeles’ draft history is.
How bad is the Kings’ draft history? In 47 years of drafting, the Kings have only selected four players who went on to be elected to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Two of those players, Billy Smith and Larry Murphy, played the bulk of their career for other teams. Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake are the only two Kings alumni that played the majority of their careers in Los Angeles and were elected to the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
So what have been the best Kings’ draft classes in history? The jury is still out on a few recent draft classes, but given that the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, just won the Calder Cup, it’s hopeful 2014 first round selection Adrien Kempe and other young draft picks will end up on this list in a few years.
5. 2000 (Alexander Frolov, Lubomir Visnovsky)
While Frolov never materialized into the player Kings fans hoped he would be, he was still a solid player for several of the team’s worst years in recent memory. Having just retired this last year, it’s hard not to wonder what he could have done if he had more talent around him. Visnovsky is 2nd all-time behind Zdeno Chara in NHL defenseman scoring for Slovakians. A great puck moving defenseman whose numbers would likely be better if he wasn’t so prone to injury.
4. 2007 (Thomas Hickey, Oscar Moller, Wayne Simmonds, Alec Martinez, Dwight King)
Every Kings fan hates the Thomas Hickey pick in the first round, and it’s regrettable that Moller never worked out. However, this draft class had five players who played significant time in the NHL. Simmonds was of course apart of the trade that brought Mike Richards to the team before their first Cup win in 2012 and has turned into one of the best power forwards in the league. Martinez and King have been vital to the Kings’ recent success in the playoffs.
3. 2008 (Drew Doughty, Slava Voynov)
Doughty will most likely end up as the fifth Hall Of Famer the Kings have selected. Two Cup wins, two gold medals, two Norris Trophy nominations, and still only 25. Doughty is the best player on the team now and will end up as perhaps the greatest Kings draft pick ever. Voynov was critical in not only helping the Kings win two Cups, but also allowing the team to trade Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter. Something we’re forever grateful for.
2. 1980 (Larry Murphy, Jim Fox, Bernie Nicholls)
As mentioned above, Murphy is one of only four Kings draftees to be elected to the Hall Of Fame. Murphy only spent four seasons with the team before being traded to the Washington Capitals. Murphy would end up winning the Stanley Cup twice in Pittsburgh and twice in Detroit. Jim Fox spent his entire nine year career with the Kings before moving into the press box where he’s provided color commentary for the Kings since 1990. Fox is one of the most beloved Kings players. Bernie Nicholls is one of only eight players in NHL history to score over 70 goals in a season. His 70 goal season 1988-89 is the top goal scoring season in Kings history.
1 . 2005 (Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick)
There is no question that the Kings first Stanley Cup win in 2012 was thanks in large part to Jonathan Quick. The Conn Smythe winner that year, Quick carried the team to a 16-4 record in the playoffs. Quick will end up setting all the Kings goaltending records by the time he retires. Kopitar is one of the best all-around players in the league and has been Kings top center for eight seasons now. While he may never touch Marcel Dionne’s team scoring record, he’s already 7th in team history and will likely end up close to Luc Robitaille’s numbers if he remains with the team.