July 31-in-31: LA Kings

mitchbrandner

2017-07-14

The 2017 NHL Entry Draft symbolized the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Kings. When Rob Blake took over for Dean Lombardi as general manager this summer, he was handed an uncomfortable salary cap situation and a pretty shallow prospect pool. This summer represents a new beginning for the former Western Conference powerhouse. If this summer is an indication of where this franchise is headed, it won`t be long before the Kings are back on top once again.

Gabriel Vilardi: 1st round, 11th overall.

Ranked in the top five by most scouting services, Gabriel Vilardi falling outside the top 10 was a nice surprise for Blake and the LA Kings after leading the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires in scoring during the regular season despite playing in just 49 games. The 6-3, 203-pound forward drove the Spits offence all the way to the championship final, where he posted two assists in a 4-3 win over the Erie Otters.

Vilardi`s play behind the opponent’s red line is downright dominant, as it`s almost impossible to take the Spits forward off the puck. His skating will need some work as he tends to fall behind the play at times, but his vision is underrated and he is almost impossible to defend when he has possession in the offensive zone.

 

Jaret Anderson-Dolan: 2nd Round, 41st Overall

Another really good pick for the rookie general manager, Jaret Anderson-Dolan from the Spokane Chiefs was also a player who was a major offensive threat for his team. Along with fellow 2017 draft eligibe, Kailer Yamamoto, Anderson-Dolan was one of the best on his team with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. He has a great shot, as evidenced by his 39 goals, and has a knack for finding the open ice and anticipating where the puck will end up. He thinks the game at a high level while also having great leadership skills, which is why he was named captain of the Canadian U18 World Junior team.

An impressive resume and great value for the Kings in the second round.

 

Matt Villalta: 3rd Round, 72nd Overall

The goaltender position wasn’t very deep for the Kings, but they addressed that this summer with the Cal Peterson signing and the Matt Villalta selection. As a back up to one of the better goalies in the OHL, Villalta played in 33 games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season. It was good for his development to be behind Joseph Raaymakers and learn from him. He posted an astounding 25-3-0 record to go along with a .918 save percentage. Though the Greyhounds were a very strong team this season, Villalta posted those numbers thanks to his ability and solid positioning. Like most goalies, he`s obviously a project, but the foundation is there for him to develop into a solid goalie for the Kings.

 

Michael Anderson: 4th Round, 103rd Overall

The Kings decided to go with a defenceman in the fourth round, selecting Michael Anderson of the Waterloo Black Hawks. While he didn’t post numbers that jump out at you, Anderson plays a solid two-way game and is your prototypical calm and collected defenceman. He was also a vital part of his teams power play, finishing third among league defencemen in power play assists. His vision and puck moving ability make him stand out amongst his peers.

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