The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is 23 days away and the Wild are looking to find that next NHL star to raise their franchise to the next level. Hockey Wilderness is counting down the days with a daily mock draft. We are at pick number 12 today.
About LA's Prospect Pool
In terms of stockpiling prospects and trying to build a farm system, the Kings have probably done about as well as they could hope to do given their usual poor draft position as a result of their recent success. Without lucking into any hidden superstars at the back end of the 1st round, they've managed to turn their poor draft positions into a fairly deep and well-rounded prospect pool that they have, for the most part, been able to develop patiently.
Even with players like Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson having graduated to the big club, there are still some talented players in their system who could become solid NHLers. Former 1st round pick Derek Forbort, who has slowly risen through the organisational ranks, leads a solid group of defencemen that also includes Nick Ebert, Zachary Leslie, Alex Lintuniemi and Colin Miller. The defensive group brings a nice overall mix of skill and grit.
There is also decent depth and skill in terms of wingers with Valentin Zykov and Adrian Kempe the biggest talents by far. Also Jean-Francois Berube, Patrik Bartosak and Alec Dillon make up a strong group of goaltending prospects.
There are some good prospects at the centre position, led by Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Jordan Weal and Nick Dowd, but none of them have true star potential and that is the biggest weakness of the Kings prospect pool
About Travis Konecny
The Kings have a rare top-15 pick and need to get a high skill player, preferably a centre, with a high ceiling. Travis Konecny certainly fits the bill. The 5'10", 175 lb, Canadian is coming off a season in which he captained the Ottawa 67's in the OHL and scored 78 points in 65 games. At just 18 years old, he probably has a long developmental curve ahead of him which suits the Kings just fine given their solidity at centre at NHL level.
Here are some reports on him:
He's a highly skilled forward who never quits. He skates very well, has excellent speed, is not afraid to get involved in battles and has no fear of taking the puck to the net.
- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards
A talented scoring forward that can play either as a center or on the wing; plays with the bite and intensity of a guy who is willing to do anything to win a game. Possesses dynamic skating ability that allows him to accelerate rapidly with each step, incredible hockey sense, electrifying puckhandling skills, and a lightning release on his shot; when you put this skillset together with hard-nosed determination, proactiveness in all three zones, and a physical willingness to grind and persevere, you get a game-changer who can be extremely difficult to play against.
Another one of the top end elite skaters and puck movers in the class, with excellent edging, burst and agility. Has the ability to go into tight spaces and control the puck and dictate play. You will see him involved in all three zones, giving strong work ethic in his end and quick bursts to loose pucks or throw checks. His compete level is bigger than his stature so might see him getting bounced a bit along the wall in those puck battles. Simply takes no quarter. The lack of size might be an advantage when he pushes his way through crowds to reach scoring areas, receive passes, and take shots. A player who clearly has a quick release and deceptively strong wrist and snapshots, but is very comfortable distributing the puck and using his smarts to read and react to the defense with slick set-ups. There is much to like about this young man.
-Bill Placzek, Draftsite.com
His lack of size seems to be the biggest question mark around him but we've seen plenty of smaller players succeed so it will depend on how his strength and awareness develop over the next few years. His wrist shot and his willingness to get himself involved in physical battles appear to be his greatest attributes.
If the Kings are willing to overlook his size, he could be a nice project for them to replace someone from their ageing core in a few years.
How He'd Fit With The Wild
Konecny would be a good fit with the Wild. With Zack Phillips flaming out and getting traded, the Wild's prospect pool could use a skilled and versatile to fill the gap. While the organisation is somewhat lacking in wingers and has good centres in the system already with Alex Tuch, Adam Gilmour, Tyler Graovac, Pavel Jenys, Christoph Bertschy, Reid Duke and Chase Lang all progressing well, Konecny would appear to have more high end upside. His offensive ability coupled with the two-way ability of someone like Tuch would make a great one-two punch of 1st round teenage centres coming up through the Wild system together.