“Hockey’s Big Day”
Better times are coming in hockey in Southern California. The NHL draft is Wednesday and next year has already begun.
Maybe a Stanley Cup appearance for the LA Kings.
A climb out of the basement for the Anaheim Ducks
Better days for sure for the San Diego Gulls.
The rebuild job for Rob Blake and the LA Kings is nearly complete. The Gretzky-Kurri-McSorely era was a long time ago. And now they look poised to strike with a talent-laden roster that Blake has put together.
Give him credit, he has no fear making deals. The Tuesday blockbuster trade brought power scoring center Pierre Luc Dubois from Winnipeg. You add his firepower-tenacity-work ethic to what they have with the snipers Anzi Kopitar , Kevin Fiala, and Adrian Kempe, the defensive style of Philippe Danault, and the contributions of past goal scorers Viktor Arvidsson, and that lineup should strike fear in alot of teams. Goal scoring everywhere.
This trade with Winnipeg comes on the heels of the trade-deadline deal that brought a front line defenseman and an established goalie in Joonas Korpisalo.
The Kings traded 3-top young players led by Gabe Villardi, but you have to pay to get, and they got a good one.
The (8Y-68M) commitment says all you need to know about the blueprint the Kings are operating under. Win, win now.
The Ducks, coming off the misery of a learning curve season for all their young players, definitely have the arrow pointing up. They enter the Wednesday draft with the certainty of getting a star for the future, whether it is Michigan center ice star Adam Fantilli or Swedish power forward Leo Carlsson.
Equally important, they have 3-second round draft picks and will get to choose 2-33-59-60 in what is a deep draft, a strong offensive draft.
You talk to NHL scouts and they all rave about Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish, Jamie Drysdale, Lukas Dostal and a group of support guys like Troy Terry and and Max Jones, who have shown flashes, but do have to stay healthy.
Add in GM-Pat Verbeek has some 39M-in salary cap space for the right type of free agents to add leadership and chemistry to the roster.
And all this carries an impact on the San Diego Gulls, coming off a trying 20-win season. But that could be a 1-off, considering they may have as many as 5-soon to be NHL defenseman coming onto the AHL roster. Remember the name Pavel Mintyukov among others.
And the return to health of a selected group of veterans, who saw last year wiped out by injuries, and it will be a very different team.
Also understand, because of NHL rules, if they draft either Fantilli or Carlsson, they could wind up wearing Gulls colors this coming fall if they don’t make the NHL roster, or if they elect not to go back to college or Europe. Get their career underway here.
Last year, file it, forget it, look forward to what is next at the Sports Arena. Bet it will be much better.
Exciting times for Kings fans. Better days coming for the Ducks. Fascinating times for the Gulls fans.
It all starts with the NHL draft on Wednesday night…then you can bring on free-agency. Fun times for hockey fans.