With several options available to them, the LA Kings might be willing to move down in the order during this Friday night’s NHL Entry Draft — for the right price.
The LA Kings hold the No. 8 spot in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft this Friday night. This will be the most unique draft in quite some time, as the Covid pandemic had limited to no playing time season, making true evaluation very difficult at best. As a result, teams will be guessing even more than they would in a normal draft.
With a top-rated pool of prospects, the LA Kings have several options at their disposal with their No. 8 pick. If they would like to add to their forwards, players like Dylan Guenther, Kent Johnson, or Mason McTavish could be available. If they are looking for a defenseman, they could choose Luke Hughes or Simon Edvinsson should they slide outside the top five. If they are looking for an elite goaltending prospect, Jesper Wallstedt could be there for the taking.
The keyword in all of this is could. Beyond the first two or three picks, most draft boards are all over the place as to where these top prospects are ranked. This makes a difficult task to begin with, an even more onerous as the lack of consensus shows the uncertainty surrounding this year’s prospects.
If there is a weak spot in the LA Kings prospect pool, it is at goaltender and left defense. They have very good prospects at both positions but nothing at the elite level. Ideally, Luke Hughes or Jesper Wallstedt will be available, and that problem is solved. Unfortunately for the Kings, chances are neither one will be available at No. 8. Of course, they could just go with the best player available and someone like Kent Johnson would be a very nice addition to the LA Kings prospect pool — even if they are forward-heavy.
There are still other options for the Kings with the pick. However, a recent report noted that the Kings are entertaining offers to potentially trade the No. 8 draft selection. To help continue stocking the prospect cupboard, they could trade down in the first round. If the players that Rob Blake and company have targeted are gone, why not use this pick to add to the draft pick stash for 2022 or 2023? By then, the LA Kings should be playoff contenders, and playoff contenders are usually buyers at trade deadlines. Having extra picks available for trade ammo will allow the Kings to add to a playoff-bound team while retaining their own picks to keep their prospect pool stocked.
For example, let’s say the Kings move down five or six spots in this draft. In return for moving down, they receive the other team’s first-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2023. In the range of the mid-tens, there will still be some excellent prospects available — perhaps even a top ten prospect that, for whatever reason, has fallen. In this scenario, the LA Kings should still get an excellent prospect and acquire an asset that could improve the team in future years either via trade or draft.
So many decisions are to be made on Friday night. What will the LA Kings do?