With their top pick of the 2016 entry draft, the Kings chose offensive defenseman Kyle Clague.
The Los Angeles Kings have had a first-round pick in only two of the past six drafts.
Despite owning four picks in this draft, the Kings remained inactive on the draft floor, making no moves other than selecting with the draft picks they owned. That said, it looks like the Kings came out of the draft with some decent selections.
51st Overall – Kale Clague, D
The Kings, although lacking a first-round selection, get a top-end offensive defenseman who many (including Bob McKenzie) believed would be selected higher in the draft. Clague played on an excellent team (playing on a second pairing behind Ivan Provorov). After missing most of his rookie season, he started slowly, which likely contributed to him falling to a lower draft position. Already a dynamic skater with an excellent pass, Clague will need to bulk up before playing stronger competition.
It's likely that Ivan Provorov, whose shadow Clague has been playing in, will turn pro this season, leaving a spot for Clague on the top pairing. Much of his success this next season could be determined by how much strength the 177-pound defenseman can add. In the future, Clague projects to be a second-pairing defenseman, with power-play potential.
112th Overall – Jacob Moverare, D
The Kings would not surprise many with the 112th, selecting another defenseman. The Kings again selected a player projected by many to go higher. Moverare has skill and size, but will need to spend a lot of time working on his skating. Following the draft, team insider Jon Rosen revealed that Kings' scouts believe he has the highest hockey IQ of a defenseman in the draft.
Despite possessing decent offensive instinct, it seems more likely that Moverare will develop into more of a stay-at-home or hybrid defenseman. Following the Kings’ development camp, Moverare signed an ELC with the Kings. He is likely to play in the OHL for Mississauga, where the Kings can more closely monitor his progress. He will need to work on his foot speed to progress to the NHL, but the Kings’ development staff has had some good experience with this, having previously selected Tyler Toffoli, who fell to the Kings later in the draft for the same reason.
142nd Overall – Michael Eyssimont, C
In the fifth round, the Kings selected skilled center Michael Eyssimont out of St. Cloud State. Eyssimont started the season slowly, then he was on fire in the second half, all the way to the NCAA championship win. He is a great shooter and passer.
Eyssimont really found his stride late last season playing on a strong team. Look for him to continue his training and education at St. Cloud State. This prospect could be several years away, but can be a good later-round selection if he can continue and adjust to the size and speed of the pro level.
202nd Overall – Jacob Friend
In the seventh round, the Kings selected tough defenseman Jacob Friend. Friend managed to force himself into the top four with the Owen Sound Attack through his solid play. Friend projects to be a stay-home type of defenseman, and tough guys like Friend can be valuable in fantasy leagues that count penalty minutes.
Friend is likely to be headed back to Owen Sound for another season.
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The Kings held development camp July 4 through 8, which resulted in them signing Patrick Bjorkstrand to a one-year ELC. Patrick had been playing in the KHL, and while he doesn’t pop out as a stellar prospect in the way that his brother Oliver does, he looks like a responsible player with some good speed. He can play either wing, and played on a line with Kopitar during the lockout. It seems unlikely that he’ll make the Kings this season with the other players signed (more on this below), but a little competition is probably a good thing.
The Kings acquired G Jack Campbell from Stars for D Nick Ebert. Campbell, the former 11th overall pick has gone from can’t-miss to easily replaceable. Can Bill Ranford turn him around? It’s possible, but count me as a skeptic about him ever making it back to the NHL.
Fee Agent Signings:
Jonathan Quick won’t have to worry about Tom Gilbert scoring on him anymore unless it’s an own-goal.
The Kings lost Milan Lucic, Luke Schenn and Jhonas Enroth to free agency after the 2015-16 season concluded. To offset losing Lucic, they signed Teddy Purcell to a very reasonable contract. To replace Schenn, they signed Tom Gilbert. To replace Enroth, they signed Stanley Cup champion Jeff Zatkoff. Further, the Kings signed Zach Trotman and Michael Latta, which either suggests there will be some competition for the bottom-line roles, or there will be moves coming.
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