Lauri Tukonen Traded to Dallas, Falls From Grace

Josh LewisSenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2008

TSN is reporting that the Los Angeles Kings have traded former first round pick Lauri Tukonen to the Dallas Stars for 21-year-old left winger Richard Clune.

Tukonen, a left winger selected 11th overall by the Kings in the 2004 draft, was once a promising prospect lauded for his soft hands, stick-handling ability, and physical play.

In fact, he was expected to go as high as fifth overall in that draft, and it was felt that the Kings had a steal on their hands.

In 2005-06, Tukonen's first AHL season, he put up a respectable 36 points in 62 games. But he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery near the end of the season.

The injury would continue to nag at him over the next two seasons, with the result being that his production has not improved one iota.

The Kings called him up for four games in 2006-07, and one more game last year to see how he would compete against NHL players, but he didn't show anything to write home about.

Now, Los Angeles has made Tukonen's fall from grace complete by dealing him for a mediocre prospect who, accordingly to Hockey's Future, has a slight chance at becoming a regular third line player, but is more likely to be a fringe guy.

To give up on a former blue-chipper at just 21 indicates that the Kings weren't just disappointed with Tukonen's development, they felt he would never be a regular NHL player.

And the low return they got for him demonstrates that other NHL general managers felt the same way.

Perhaps Clune will prove me wrong and become an effective NHL player, or maybe Tukonen will rebound and become the top six forward he was expected to become on draft day. But as it stands right now, he's looking like a pretty huge bust.

On the other hand, Dallas will be laughing if he ever reaches his potential.