April 10 2014 11:59AM
The Los Angeles Kings are a prime example of how to build a winning team. Rarely does it happen quickly, but solid, diversified drafting can build you the foundation for success.
Many of the King's important players were drafted and developed from within, and if the Oilers ever hope to be a contender again it will come via their home grown players.
A quick look up and down the Kings roster and you'll see drafted players all over the depth chart.
Jonathan Quick was drafted 72nd (3rd round) in 2005.
Drew Doughty was taken 2nd overall in 2008.
Slava Voynov was chosen 32nd (2nd round) also in 2008.
Alec Martinez was selected 95th (4th round) in 2007.
Dustin Brown was the 13th overall pick in 2003.
Anze Kopitar was taken 11th in 2005.
Trevor Lewis was the 17th choice in 2006.
Dwight King was taken 109th (4th round) in 2007.
Kyle Clifford was chosen 35th (2nd round) in 2009.
Tyler Toffoli was taken 47th (2nd round) in 2010.
Tanner Pearson was the 30th pick in 2012.
Their draft picks are playing key roles: starting goalie, top-two D-men, #1 centre and they are also spread out nicely throughout the lineup.
The Oilers will have ten drafted players in the lineup tonight: Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Gagner, Smyth, Pitlick, Lander, Petry, Marincin and Klefbom. Nail Yakupov is injured.
The Oilers have some elite forwards, and if Marincin and Klefbom continue to develop they would have three solid D-men, although none of them are top-pairing guys yet.
The major difference between the Oilers and Kings drafting thus far is the Oilers don't have any big or feisty skilled bodies in their bottom six forwards. Those might arise in Pitlick, Mitch Moroz or Greg Chase, but not for a few years at least.
The Kings have done a good job of drafting elite players, but also guys who can fill other roles.
General Manager Dean Lombardi hasn't been afraid to trade away some of his good draft picks either. He's moved Brayden Schenn (5th overall in 2009) and Wayne Simmonds (2nd round in 2007) for Mike Richards. He also acquired Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene for Lubomir Visnovsky (4th rounder in 2000).
One of Lombardi's first trades was shrewd when he acquired Jack Johnson (3rd overall pick in 2005) and Oleg Tverdovsky from Carolina for Tim Gleason and Eric The Belanger Triangle. Six years later he moved Johnson to Columbus for Jeff Carter.
He's filled out the rest of his roster via free agency or trades. The Kings signed Jake Muzzin to a free agent deal on January 4th, 2010. Muzzin had been drafted by Pittsburgh in the 5th round of the 2007 draft but was never signed. Muzzin is now a solid #4/5 defender.
Lombardi was hired April 21st, 2006, after the Kings had missed the playoff for three consecutive seasons. The Kings did miss the playoffs during his first seasons -- rarely is there a quick fix -- but the Kings are now one of the better teams in the league.
Craig MacTavish was hired April 15th, 2013. He's inherited some very good players just like Lombardi (Brown, Quick and Kopitar), but now it is up to MacTavish to fill out his roster via astute trades and free agent signings.
As we head into MacTavish's second off-season as GM, I'm very intrigued to see what type of moves he will make.
Is this summer the right time to move some of his younger players for proven NHL talent?
Will he be able to sign some established, veteran D-men to help protect and nurture his young defenders?
Will he be able to add some size and grit into his top-six?
Lombardi has built a solid team, but it took him three years to make them a contender. Will MacTavish be able to do it in two?
- Eakins said he plans on playing Larsen more on defence than up front. He will use 11 forwards and said Lander and Acton will see mulitiple wingers tonight. I'd double shift Hall with Lander and Pitlick as much as I could. Let's see what Lander can do playing with an offensive minded winger.
- Boyd Gordon's season is over, he won't play the final two games.
- I'd rather have Belov back next season over Fraser. Belov has all the skill to play in the NHL, and after an up and down first season, I'd much rather give him a chance to improve instead of Fraser. His ceiling is much higher than Fraser's.
- Klefbom is getting better every game. I'm curious to see how he plays against the big Kings' forwards. He has done a good job of using his strength to break up the cycle, and the more he plays the more I like his game over Marincin. That isn't a knock on Marincin, I like him too, but I feel Klefbom will a better defensive player and that is the biggest weakness on the Oilers. They can't defend.
- The Oilers have surrendered 55 more goals than the seven west teams currently in the playoffs. Dalls and Phoenix, who are battling for the final spot, have allowed 40 fewer goals. The Oiler's goals against must improve next season, if they have any hope of being a playoff contender.
- I've noticed many people are guaranteeing Martin Marincin a top-four spot next season. Why -- because he looked good for 40 games? Remember when Gagner scored 28 points in the final 28 games in his rookie season? Marincin should not be guaranteed a spot next year in camp by the Oilers, fans or media. Make it a competition. Bring in some NHL caliber D-men, and have him battle with Oscar Klefbom and see who wins. If Marincin plays well enough in camp to win the job, good on him, but assuming he is a top-four D-man is incredibly premature. The Oilers, their fans and media/bloggers need to realize that guaranteeing players spots, and not having enough competition in camp, leads to being a bottom feeder. That cycle needs to stop. Klefbom and Marincin should not be looked at as locks to make the team, instead they should be considered guys who are capable of competing for a roster spot, and likely on the 3rd pairing to start the season.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings lost last night in Calgary. I don't see them getting swept out of Alberta. Oilers lose 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Kings have dominated the Oilers this year, winning all three games and outshooting them by an average of 46-23. If the Oilers keep the shot differential within 10 that would be a major improvement.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Matt Greene has scored 12 goals in 351 games since being traded to the Kings. One of them came against the Oilers, the game winner with 4:28 remaining on November 25th, 2009. He continues the ex-Oiler scoring curse and fires a slapper past a screened Fasth in the middle frame.
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