The LA Kings newest prospect, Francesco Pinelli, spoke with the media shortly following his selection at No. 42 overall.
Originally entering the second round of the 2021 Draft with the No. 49 pick, the LA Kings traded up with the Ottawa Senators, nabbing their No. 42 pick. With that selection, the Kings took forward Francesco Pinelli of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
A forward who can both center and wing, Pinelli’s addition instills a new level of excitement for the silver-and-black. The 18-year-old’s superior playing abilities, in particular, are what has intrigued many teams, including the LA Kings.
On Saturday, Pinelli, who stands at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, spoke with the Kings media via Zoom to share his feelings on being drafted by the club.
“I wasn’t really expecting L.A. to select me,” admitted the Hamilton, ON, native. “But once they traded down, I just had a feeling and they obviously selected me, so I was really happy with my outcome and obviously got a great organization so it’s great.”
In spite of his initial expectations, or lack thereof, the youngster admitted that the Kings left a good impression on him.
“They reached out to me and we had an interview and I thought the interview went really well,” Pinelli added. “It means a lot to be selected by such a great organization. It’s a real honor and I think I’m really excited to get started, but obviously, this year has been different.”
Given this past season being so unusual due to COVID-19, Pinelli did not have the opportunity to play in Kitchener. He did, however, have the honour of representing Canada at the World U18s. In fact, one of his teammates was Brandt Clarke, who was selected eighth-overall by the Kings on Friday night.
Pinelli was asked about his thoughts on Clarke as a player.
“Yeah, I mean he’s a great player,” he said. “We played at the U18s and he’s also a great person. I think he’s a very skilled defenseman, but he’s also very responsible, too. So, I think he’s got a really two-way game and once I got selected, he was really fired up and I was really happy to be selected by the same team as him, so that was really fun to see.”
En route to helping Canada win gold at the U18 tournament, Pinelli was on fire, scoring four goals and seven assists for 11 points in just seven games. In addition to representing his native country, though, Pinelli got his first taste of playing in the professional ranks. Since Kitchener wasn’t an option, he took his game to Slovenia, playing 13 games for HDD Jesenice, the hometown of current Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
The 18-year-old touched on how this experienced helped his game.
“Well, yeah, obviously, the guys were older, so the guys are gonna be faster and stronger,” Pinelli noted. “And there was also the Olympic ice when skating in games, so it’s definitely different. But, to make that transition was really, really fun and a different experience for sure but, I grew as a person as a player and I think it helped develop my game, for sure.”
One area of concern in Pinelli’s game has been his skating. However, the youngster has addressed this and will continue to do so this summer, in a unique way: with the help of a figure skating instructor.
“It’s helped me a ton,” he stressed. “I used her last summer and I’ve used during this summer, this offseason, as well, so I think I’m still running my skating. I think it’s very important and I think it’s always getting better, so I’m really happy with the outcomes.”
Whether he’ll be NHL ready right away remains to be seen but Francecso Pinelli is nonetheless a new reason to be excited for the Kings and their bright future.