COHEN’S KINGS CATASTROPHES – CHAPTER 10



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Dean Lombardi and the Los Angeles Kings enter the 2014 NHL Draft as two-time Stanley Cup Champions. Since taking over as general manager in 2006, Lombardi has transformed this once moribund franchise into a perennial contender stocked with world-class players. It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago the Kings were capping off what might have been the worst combination of bad luck, bad management and bad hockey that the franchise has ever seen…

CHAPTER TEN : Dave Taylor and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Draft Day

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BACKGROUND

During the 2003-04 season, the Kings lost an estimated 629  games to injuries, including losing both Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison for the entire season. Zigmund Palffy missed 47 games in what would ultimately be his final season as a King. Roman Chechmanek, acquired in May of 2003 from Philadelphia for a 2nd round draft pick in 2004, was a disappointment in his final injury-riddled season in the NHL.

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Luc Robitaille returned from his two-year stint in Detroit to lead the team in scoring with 51 points. Dustin Brown had 5 points in his 31 game rookie season.

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On March 8th, the Kings traded Jared Aulin to the Washington Capitals for Anson Carter. Despite all the injuries the Kings found themselves in a tightly contested battle for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

In 15 games with the Kings, Anson Carter had zero goals and one assist.

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The Kings finished the season with 11 consecutive losses and failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They finished 11th in the Western Conference with 81 points.

Ten points behind the 8th-seeded Nashville Predators.

11. Losses. In. A. Row.

High Carter

Ugh.

WHAT THE KINGS DID

The Los Angeles Kings made nine selections in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

With the 11th overall pick, they selected Lauri Tukonen from the Finnish Elite League.

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WHY IT LOOKED LIKE A GOOD MOVE

Lauri Tukonen was a highly ranked European prospect.

“The draft year was a time for breakout as he totally dominated the junior A league, played half a season in the professional league and became the youngest skater in recent history to play for Finland in the World Junior Championships

NOTES AND NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING REPORT: Is the highest-rated Finnish player in the final Central Scouting rankings…A big, strong player with a good mix of physical attributes and a high skill level…Is a strong skater with good balance…Is difficult to knock off the puck…Possesses good hands and is a fine stickhandler…Has a solid knowledge and understanding of the game…Possesses a hard, quick wrist shot…Is a tenacious worker who loves to compete…A player in the mold of a power forward…Possesses a good combination of size, strength and skill to elevate his game to the next level.

WHY IT WAS A TERRIBLE MOVE

Lauri Tukonen played in 5 NHL games. He scored no goals and had no assists. He was traded to the Dallas Stars for Rich Clune in 2008. 

Scott Parse, drafted in the 6th round, played in 73 games. The other seven players selected by the Kings combined for 7 games played in the NHL.

Four were played by goaltender Daniel Taylor and three by goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji.

This is real. This happened.

This is real. This happened.

The second round draft pick they traded for the disappointing Roman Chechmanek wound up with the Chicago Blackhawks who used it to draft Bryan Bickell. The same Bryan Bickell who had 7 points in 5 games against the Kings in the 2013 Western Conference Finals.

WHAT THE KINGS SHOULD HAVE DONE

Invest in better scouts and player development.

While Lauri Tukonen wasn’t the absolute worst pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the Kings essentially wasted 8 of their 9 draft picks…. assuming you think Scott Parse was a decent pick in the 6th round. Four players selected in the same round have played in more than 250 games.

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The Kings selected Valtteri Tenkanen in the 9th round with the 264th overall pick. The Phoenix Coyotes used the 265th pick to draft Daniel Winnick. The same Daniel Winnick that finished the 2013-2014 season with the Anaheim Ducks and has played in 490 NHL games.

Travis Zajac, Andrej Mezaros and Mike Green were all selected in the first round after the Kings selected Tukonen.

Travis Zajac, Jonathan QuickDavid Krecji, Johan Franzen, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Pekka Rinne are just some of the players the Kings could have selected in later rounds that could have contributed more than the combined 85 games from the Kings nine draft picks.

HOW IT WOULD LOOK TODAY

 It’s impossible to try and guess how the draft picks from the 2014 NHL Draft will pan out so let’s take a look at a different draft where the Kings picked in a similar spot.

The 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

The Los Angeles Kings would have taken Marek Zagrapan with the 11th overall pick instead of Anze Kopitar.

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“Who’s Marek Zagrapan“, you ask?

EXACTLY

EXACTLY

FINAL ANALYSIS

BENEFIT

One half decent season from Scott Parse?

COST

Every draft pick the Kings had in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft

OPPORTUNITY COST

So. Many. Options.

EMOTIONAL COST

None

WHO’S TO BLAME

Director of Amateur Scouting, Al Murray

Murray and 2003 draft bust Jeff Tambellini

Murray & 2003 Draft Bust Jeff Tambellini

General Manager Dave Taylor

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LEGACY

After missing the playoffs in the 2005-2006 season, Dave Taylor was fired and replaced by Dean Lombardi. The following season Lombardi replaced Al Murray with Michael Futa, Mark Yannetti and a completely rebuilt scouting department.

SILVER LINING

The lockout that canceled the 2004-2005 season spared Kings fans from having to watch another horrible season.

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ROYAL REPUGNANCE RATING

(on a scale of -99 to +99)

*-98*

Of all the members of Team TRH Jesse Cohen probably comes closest to actually hating the Kings. Whether obsessing over the 1998 sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, wishing he had witnessed the fight between Dmitri Khristich and Barry Potomski or cursing their attempts to fool the fans by dressing Randy Robitaille for 18 games, Jesse harbors a deep-seeded resentment towards the Kings.You can follow Jesse Cohen on Twitter @KingsMenPodcast.
  • http://www.cyberspace.com What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

    Hmm…no mention that the “scouting department” died on one of the planes in 9/11, and that might have had something to do with the draft issues between then and Dean Lombardi. I’d call that significant.