The Best Fit at Each Position for Los Angeles Kings in 2014 NHL Draft
The Los Angeles Kings are the 2014 Stanley Cup champions, and the overwhelming majority of the team could be back in uniform next season.
The Kings have just three unrestricted free agents—Marian Gaborik, Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell—and one restricted free agent, Dwight King. That said, GM Dean Lombardi may have to shuffle some pieces to sign Gaborik, so it's possible a couple players may be moved over the summer.
With the 2014 NHL Draft coming up on June 27, Lombardi will look to grow the Kings' prospects base with some late picks.
These are the prospects that would fit best with the Kings at each position.
Goaltender: Keven Bouchard, Val D'Or Foreurs
Goaltending has been the least of the team's worries for some time and is still at the bottom of the priority list.
Drafting a goalie for depth would likely occur late in the draft. A netminder to consider is Keven Bouchard from Metabetchouan, Quebec. Standing 6'2" and weighing a little over 200 pounds, Bouchard offers great size and has good movement from post to post.
Bouchard lacks experience, however, having played just 27 games for the QMJHL's Val d'Or Foreurs this season. He appeared in just one playoff game and one Memorial Cup game. But again, the Kings are set in goal for the next decade.
Defense: Dominik Masin, HC Slavia Praha
It's possible the Kings could be without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene next season. Therefore, a solid defensive defenseman would be one of their important needs.
Dominik Masin is a 6'2", 189-pound blueliner from the Czech Republic who doesn't shy away from physical play in his own zone. He has good positioning, is willing to sacrifice his body to block shots and works hard in the corners to win puck battles.
Masin also has leadership experience, which is something the Kings value. He was captain of the Czech Republic teams at both the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2013 World Junior A Challenge.
He may need a couple years in the AHL before he's ready for NHL play, but Masin could be a key asset for L.A. in the long term.
Left Wing: Brendan Lemieux, Barrie Colts
The son of Claude Lemieux should garner consideration from the Kings when they make their first selection at No. 29 overall in the 2014 NHL Draft.
The 6'0", 206-pound winger is similar in many ways to his father. He plays a feisty game, often agitating his opponents with his physicality. However, he's capable of making an impact with his speed and skill as well.
Lemieux notched 27 goals and 26 assists for 53 points in 65 OHL games this season. He also came up big in the playoffs, notching seven goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games before Barrie was eliminated in the second round.
If he continues to improve his skating and can adjust to play in the AHL, Lemieux has the potential to suit up on the Kings' third line in the coming years—should they choose to draft him.
Right Wing: Reid Gardiner, Prince Albert Raiders
Ranking 66th on the latest draft list from TSN's Craig Button is right winger Reid Gardiner.
The 5'11", 183-pound forward has spent the last two years with the Prince Albert Raiders, racking up a total of 29 goals and 35 assists for 64 points in 124 WHL games.
Gardiner boasts good speed and has an ability to create scoring chances with his playmaking skills, but his best asset is likely his hockey sense. Gardiner sees the ice well in all three zones and plays a solid two-way game.
Gardiner has the work ethic to make it in the NHL, but like most prospects, it would probably take a few years before he would get a chance to suit up for the Kings.
Center/Left Wing: Christian Dvorak, London Knights
No one can question Christian Dvorak's dedication to the game. The 18-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in January and was expected to miss six to eight months.
He returned in five months.
Dvorak has played just 33 OHL games, racking up six goals and eight assists for 14 points to go along with a plus-eight rating. Yes, he is inexperienced, but in the third or fourth round, he may be worth taking a chance on.
Dvorak is an excellent skater and has shown he has the potential to be a strong playmaking forward. He will likely return to London next season, where he will need to continue develop and bulk up before making the leap to the pro level.