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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
VANCOUVER/LOS ANGELES – Goaltender Jonathan Bernier was the first player selected by the Los Angeles Kings (first round, 11th overall) in Saturday's NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver. Bernier was the highest ranked North American Goaltender in the Draft.

Bernier, 18, played in 54 regular season games this past season for Lewiston of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and had a 27-26-0 record, a 2.70 goals-against-average, two shutouts and a .908 save percentage. In six playoffs games with Lewiston, Bernier had a 2-4 record, a 2.84 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage. He was selected to the 2006 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Top Prospects Game in Ottawa and was a member of Team Canada for the 2006 Under-18 World Championships. Bernier was also a member of Team Canada for the 2005 Under-18 Junior World Cup and a member of Team Quebec for the 2004 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

"I like Bernier and I like putting a good, young goaltender in our system," said Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi from the Kings draft table in Vancouver. "We have some areas on defense that we are working on and a goaltender is a big key to that. Our reserve list lacks depth on defense and as everyone knows in San Jose that was one of my priorities I focused on. It just did not fall that way. I like some of the guys we now have in that age group and we can watch them grow together. Putting a top goaltender prospect in the mix with a forward like Anze Kopitar will only help the Kings going forward."

A native of Laval, Quebec, the 5-11, 177-pound Bernier catches left. The younger brother of right wing Marc Andre Bernier, Vancouver's second-round choice (60th overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft, Bernier becomes just the second goaltender to be chosen by the Kings in the first-round (the Kings selected Jamie Storr, seventh overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft).

According to Central Scouting Report, Bernier is: "A very strong skater with excellent balance...has both quick reactions and recovery...has very quick feet and pads with excellent, controlled lateral movements...very good post-to-post...does a good job of blocking a pass from behind the net...very good angles and net coverage...challenges at the top of the crease and square to the shooter...good rebound control deflecting shots out of danger with his stick and blocker...uses paddle down technique on wrap around attempts...goes behind the net well to stop the puck on dump ins and is smart at moving it...communicates well with his defense...does a very good job of reading and reacting to the play...has an excellent well balanced butterfly stance...shows excellent determination...very solid and strong in the crease...battles hard for any loose pucks and holds his ground when players cut hard to the net...very quick recovery to get set for a rebound opportunity...very aggressive and competes hard...very confident and doesn't get rattled...capable of making big saves to keep his team in the game or to hold a lead."

The Kings aquired a second selection in the first round as part of a trade with the Minnesota Wild. The Kings acquired a first-round selection (17th overall) and center/left wing Patrick O'Sullivan from Minnesota in exchange for center/right wing Pavol Demitra. With the draft choice, the Kings' second of the first-round, the Kings selected center Trevor Lewis.

The multiple first-round selections this year marks the first time the Kings have had more than one choice in the first-round since 2003 when they made three selections: Dustin Brown (13th); Brian Boyle (26th); and Jeff Tambellini (27th). In addition, Lewis was one of a record 10 U.S.-born players who were among the 30 players selected in today's first round (surpassing the previous record of eight set last year).

In the second-round, the Kings selected defenseman Joe Ryan with the 48th overall choice. A 6-1, 189-pound native of Winchester, Massachusetts, Ryan, 18, this past season played in 61 regular season games for the Memorial Cup Champion Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) and recorded 24 points (6-18=24) and 202 penalty minutes. In 23 playoff games, he recorded 10 points (2-8=10), 29 penalty minutes, one power-play goal and he was a plus-13.

Ryan was ranked the 31st best North American Skater in the Draft. He was selected to play in the 2006 Top Prospects Game in Ottawa and he was originally selected by Quebec in the first-round (10th overall) in the 2003 QMJHL draft. The Kings were awarded this selection as compensation for the club not signing 2001 first-round draft choice Jens Karlsson.

In the third-round, the Kings had two selections and used their first choice (74th overall) to select goaltender Jeff Zatkoff. A 6-1, 150-pound native of Detroit, Michigan, Zatkoff, who catches left, was ranked the third best North American Goaltender in the Draft.

This past season, Zatkoff, 19, played in 20 games (including two CCHA playoff contests) for Miami (Ohio) University and recorded a 14-5-1 record, a 2.02 goals-against-average, three shutouts and a .928 save percentage.

Also in the third-round, the Kings used the second of their two third-round choices (86th overall) to select center/right wing Bud Holloway. A 6-0, 190-pound native of Wapella, Saskatchewan, Holloway, 18, was ranked the 40th best North American Skater in the Draft.

This past season, Holloway played in 72 regular season games with Seattle of the Western Hockey League (WHL) and he recorded 34 points (21-13=34) and 18 penalty minutes. His 21 goals ranked second on his club, and in seven playoff games he had five points (3-2=5) and four penalty minutes.

Holloway was a member of Team West for the winning squad at the 2005 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and he was originally Seattle's first selection, 17th overall, in the 2003 WHL Bantam Draft. The Kings originally acquired this selection as part of the trade with Philadelphia on August 4, 2005, involving Jeremy Roenick.

The Kings then traded their original fourth-round selection, the 104th overall choice, to the New York Rangers in exchange for their fourth-round selection, the 114th overall selection, and their fifth-round selection, the 144th overall choice.

With the fourth-round (114th overall) selection acquired by the Rangers, the Kings chose defenseman Niclas Andersen. A 6-1, 207-pound native of Grums, Sweden, Andersen, 18, was ranked the 41st best European Skater in the Draft.

This past season, Andersen played eight regular season games with Leksand of the Swedish Elite League and recorded zero points and eight penalty minutes. He also this past season played in 36 games with Leksand Jr. of the Swedish Junior League and recorded 11 points (5-6=11) and 214 penalty minutes. He was also the youngest player on the Swedish Under-18 team at the World Junior Championships in 2004-05 when he played in six games and collected two points (1-1=2) and 14 penalty minutes, and before that he played senior hockey in the minors in 2003-04.

In the fifth-round, the Kings used the first of their two fifth-round choices (134th overall) to select forward David Meckler. A 6-1, 195-pound native of Highland Park, Illinois, Meckler, 18, this past season played as a freshman for Yale and in 31 games he had 10 points, including a freshman-leading seven goals, and 28 penalty minutes. He also had two power-play goals, and his short-handed, game-winning goal in the fifth overtime on March 4 in the first-round of the 2005-06 ECACHL playoffs ended what was the longest game in NCAA history.

Meckler played junior hockey with Waterloo (USHL). In 2004-05, he was third in the League with 30 goals and was a USHL All-Star in 2005 and the Booster Club Player of the Year. He made USA Hockey's Select 14 and 15 teams, and was honored with the National Honor Society, Iowa Scholar Senior Honor Student and Waterloo Rotary Club/U.S. Achievement Academy English and Math Awards.

Also in the fifth-round, the Kings used the second of their two fifth-round choices (144th overall acquired earlier today from the Rangers) to select defenseman Martin Nolet. A 6-3, 209-pound native of Quebec City, Quebec, Nolet, 18, was ranked the 100th best North American Skater in the Draft.

This past season, Nolet played 19 games for Champlain (QAAAJHL) and had 12 points (5-7=12) and 26 penalty minutes.

In the sixth-round, the Kings selected left wing Constantin Braun with the 164th overall choice. A 6-3, 198-pound native of Lampertheim, Germany, Brown, 18, this past season played for the Berlin Junior Polar Bears of the German Junior League where in 24 regular season games he had 23 points (13-10=23) and 34 penalty minutes. He also played this past season in six regular season games for the Berlin Polar Bears of the German Elite League. In 2004-05, he played in one regular season game with the Berlin Junior Polar Bears.

"We've never picked high and this is a problem," said Lombardi. "This team has been caught in the middle. It hasn't been good enough to contend, but hasn't been bad enough to be picking the Alexander Ovechkin's of the world.

"It's hard to explain, but I think that we've got windows here. Buffalo is a great example. You look at the kids in those age groups, and why they are successful is not hard to figure out. We just have to get stronger in these areas and then if it comes around, then bang. That right guy comes up and LA's heading in the right direction. I feel that if we get this thing going in the right direction, we should be able to recruit anybody."

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