The Los Angeles Kings are in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in nearly 20 years, and they are fortunate to have a complete team with very few weaknesses.
With a number of talented prospects already in their system, the 2012 NHL draft won't be as important to Los Angeles as it will be to many other teams.
When the Kings acquired Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, they gave up defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. The Blue Jackets can either take the Kings' first-round pick this year or next year. Since the Kings will pick 29th or 30th, the Blue Jackets will likely take next year's first-rounder.
One thing the Kings may look to do in the draft is add some power forwards to their organization so they can allow Dustin Penner and Jarrett Stoll to leave in free agency this summer.
With star goaltender Jonathan Quick expected to get a massive contract this summer or next, the Kings can't be signing players like Penner and expect to re-sign their franchise netminder to the deal he wants.
Let's look at who the Kings should target in the draft and in upcoming free agency and make a prediction for their first pick.
The Kings don't need a starting goalie with Quick entering the prime of his career, but finding a backup could be a need for Los Angeles soon.
Since Quick is set for a huge raise, the Kings might not be able to re-sign young backup Jonathan Bernier to the contract he will want next summer when he's a restricted free agent.
Bernier is a talented player who could start on several teams, so he will want to start sooner rather than later. The Kings could use him as trade bait since young goalies are quite valuable, but a backup goaltender is certainly something the team could address with their first selection.
Like I said above, drafting some more power forwards is one option for the Kings this year. Their style of play allows power forwards like Mike Richards and captain Dustin Brown to excel.
Here are the upcoming free agents for the Kings that are important to their team, via Capgeek.
|Player||Position||UFA/RFA||2011-12 Salary Cap Hit||Age|
|Dustin Penner||LW||UFA||$4.25 million||29|
|Jarret Stoll||C||UFA||$3.6 million||29|
Dustin Penner was awful in a bit over one year with the Kings, but he's been fantastic in the playoffs. I still don't think he will be back with the Kings next year, though, since he's too inconsistent.
Stoll is replaceable and so is Fraser, but Dwight King will certainly be back since he's a restricted free agent and a solid young player. King scored five goals in the regular season and already has five through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
The Kings would be foolish to spend money in free agency this summer when next offseason they have key players like Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier, Rob Scuderi, Slava Voynov and Kyle Clifford hitting free agency.
The Kings should look at taking Stefan Matteau, son of the 1994 playoff hero for the New York Rangers. He might not be available in the first round when it's the Kings' turn to pick, though. Matteau is a big kid who would add some nice size to the Kings forward group.
For a goalie, the Kings could target Brandon Whitney of Victoriaville in the QMJHL. Whitney is a fundamentally strong goaltender and would likely be available in the late first round but not for the Kings' second-round pick.
Whitney would be a very good fit for the Kings because he would be a capable backup and could certainly take over for Jonathan Quick when his tenure with Los Angeles concludes.
You can never have too many young goaltenders in today's NHL.