Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the Los Angeles Kings draft, and their biggest boom and bust.
Los Angeles Kings Draft Boom and Bust
From eight players selected by the Kings in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, only two made it to the NHL. Those are Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick. One can say that the 2005 NHL Entry Draft paid huge dividends for the Kings. Quick has certainly matured into the biggest Los Angeles Kings draft boom since 2000. Quick was selected as the 72nd overall player in the third round.
How many times are you able to select a player, moreover a goaltender, midway through the third round in the draft, and he becomes to be a two time Stanley Cup winner and a Conn Smythe Trophy winner? In the draft year, where there hasn’t been an NHL season because of a lockout, the Kings managed to draft their future number, one goaltender. Quick became the number one netminder for Los Angeles in 2008. Almost 12 years later, Quick has become the most famous Kings´ goaltender in their franchise history. Quite an achievement.
Following his draft selection in the third round, Quick spent the first two seasons in the NCAA. As the Connecticut native, Quick played for the UMass – Amherst. In the 2007-08 season, Quick started the season in the ECHL, where he scored an empty-net goal while making his first three starts in the NHL. Quick made his NHL debut on December 6, 2007, where the Kings defeated the Buffalo Sabres 8-2. In the 2008-09 season, Quick began the campaign in the AHL but finished the season playing 44 games for the Kings after Erik Ersberg suffered an injury.
Ever since this moment, Quick was the Kings´ number one goaltender. In 2010, Quick played his first playoff series, where the Kings lost to the Vancouver Canucks in six games. In 2011, the Kings ended up eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the first round in six games. During the 2011-12 season, the Kings could fully rely on Quick´s performances. The goal-against average of 1.95 with the save percentage of .929 are his career-best, recorded in 69 games. In the playoffs, without having won a playoff series before, Quick claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy with the save percentage of .946 and the goal-against average of 1.41.
Two years later, in 2014, Quick led the Kings to their second Stanley Cup in three years. Quick continued to be a stable regular-season performer, while the Kings managed to make the playoffs only twice since 2014, winning only one game. His slow decline started to show off in the 2018-19 season, where Quick recorded the save percentage of .888, his career-worst.
Other Notable Booms
In the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, the Kings selected goaltender Cristobal Huet as the 214th overall player in the seventh round. Huet became a legendary French netminder, as he managed to participate in 272 NHL games. For the seventh-round draft choice, that´s pretty solid. Huet played in 53 games with the Kings. In 2004, the Kings traded Huet to the Montreal Canadiens, where he spent three seasons. In 2008, the Canadiens traded him to the Washington Capitals.
On the 1st of July in 2008, as a free agent, Huet signed a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 2010, Huet served as a backup goaltender to Antti Niemi, as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. After hoisting the Stanley Cup, the former seventh-round draft pick left the NHL and played the rest of his career in Switzerland. Huet made sure to play for France at the World Championships whenever possible. Huet retired at the age of 42 in 2018. For a goaltender picked in the seventh round of the draft, that´s not a bad resume.
Alec Martinez was drafted by the Kings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft as the 95th overall draft choice in the fourth round. The only player being selected lower by the Los Angeles Kings draft since 2000, and playing in more NHL games than Martinez, is Lubomir Visnovsky. Martinez, 32, however, is likely to eventually play in more NHL games than the legendary Slovakian skater.
Martinez took part in 607 NHL games and added another 64 playoff appearances. His career might not be the most stupendous you have ever witnessed, but Martinez won two Stanley Cups with the Kings. His Game 7 overtime winner in the Western Conference Final versus Chicago followed by the Cup-clinching overtime winner in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center will never end up forgotten by the Kings franchise. Shortly before the coronavirus break, the Kings traded Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights.
In the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Kings selected Anze Kopitar as the 11th overall player. A year before that, with the same draft selection, Los Angeles picked Lauri Tukonen. Tukonen is a versatile right-shot winger. Despite his high draft position, he has never fully made it to the NHL. There has been no other such a high draft choice by the Kings, who has featured in only five NHL games. Back then, he was deemed a natural goal-scorer. The Kings surely ended up disappointed with drafting Tukonen. In the 2003-04 season, he had most points for Team Finland at the U18 World Juniors and claimed a bronze medal at the World Juniors later that season.
After being selected in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Tukonen had to wait through the lockout season to get his first look at the Kings organization. The Finnish winger played in 62 games in the AHL. He has made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 season, playing in four contests. Tukonen didn’t record a point and wound up skating in 61 AHL games instead. During the following 2007-08 season, Tukonen made only one appearance with the Kings.
In July 2008, the Kings traded Tukonen to the Dallas Stars. Only a few months later, the Stars traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the meantime, he played in the Finnish Liiga while experiencing injury setbacks. Ahead of the 2009-10 season, the Lightning signed him to a one-year deal. Nevertheless, Tukonen played in Finland, where he eventually remained the remainder of his career. Once a highly-skilled first-round draft choice, the 33-year-old forward is slowly coming to the retirement time.
Other Notable Busts
In the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, with their 18th overall draft choice, the Kings selected Jens Karlsson. A robust right-winger from Sweden with the ability to score a ton of goals. However, Karlsson never even made it to the North America competitions. Karlsson spent the vast majority of his career playing in his home Sweden, where he won the SHL twice in his career. From all the first-round draft selections by the Kings since 2000, only three players haven’t made it yet to the NHL. The 2018´s selection Rasmus Kupari, the last year´s choice Alex Turcotte and Karlsson from 2011. Karlsson retired in 2015.
Colten Teubert had very close to being considered as the biggest Los Angeles Kings draft bust. In the 2008 NHL Draft, the Kings selected him as the 13 overall player in the first round. Teubert, the Canadian native, has never played for the Kings in the NHL. However, Los Angeles included him in a trade for Dustin Penner to the Edmonton Oilers at the 2011 Trade Deadline. In the remainder of the 2011-12 season, the former 13th overall draft choice played in 24 games with the Oilers and recorded one assist. Teubert also skated in 167 AHL games. The robust right-handed defenceman retired after playing in Germany in 2019.