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Well-traveled Gibson Lands with Kings

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Only 18 years old, Chris Gibson has had quite a world tour. In the last three years, he’s gone from Kakkila, Finland, to Wilcox, Saskatchewan to Chicoutimi, Quebec.

Basically, if it’s tough to pronounce, Gibson has been there. His journey has all been in the name of reaching the NHL, and on Saturday morning Gibson took a huge step in that direction when the Kings took him in the second round with the No. 49 overall pick.

On the second day of the NHL Draft in St. Paul, Minn., the Kings made five other selections, as they took centers Andy Andreoff and Nick Shore in the third round, winger Michael Mersch in the fourth round, winger Joel Lowry in the fifth round and winger Michael Schumacher in the seventh round.

Gibson, listed at 6-foot, 193 pounds, was No. 2 among all North American goalies in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings. Playing for Chicoutimi this season, Gibson ranked first in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in save percentage (.920) and second in goals-against average (2.42). He has two seasons of junior eligibility remaining.

"I'm very excited to be an L.A. King right now," Gibson said. "It was a long day yesterday, waiting for my name to be called (in the first round). Unfortunately, it didn't, but now I'm happy that L.A. called me in the second round. … I've looked at them [the Kings] a bit more, after I've been talking with the L.A. scouts a little bit. I'll be excited to go there and see what's going on.''

In drafting Gibson at No. 49, the Kings added to a goalie pipeline that includes Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, plus Martin Jones and Jeff Zatkoff, who split time in the AHL last season, and J-F Berube, who also had a solid season in the Quebec league.

In fact, during the QMJHL regular season, Gibson ranked slightly ahead of Berube in goals-against average, although both goalies were in the league’s top five.

Gibson’s story began in Finland, where, not surprisingly, he grew up following top NHL goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. At age 15, and with his parents’ support, Gibson made the decision to move to Canada and attend a prep school in Saskatchewan.

After one season at Notre Dame Academy, during which he won a championship, Gibson joined the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.

Gibson’s first season of junior hockey was a bit bumpy, as he finished with a 3.50 goals-against average and an .884 save percentage in 29 games, but in his second season, Gibson developed into one of the league’s top goalies.

After drafting Gibson, the Kings turned their attention to forwards.

With their No. 80 overall pick, the Kings grabbed Andreoff, a 20-year-old center from the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Andreoff, 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, had 33 goals and 42 assists last season, his fourth year of junior hockey.

Andreoff isn’t shy about dropping gloves, either, as he totaled 109 penalty minutes this season. He would be eligible, because of his age, to play in the AHL next season.

Just minutes after that pick, the Kings moved back into the third round, as they traded a 2012 third-round pick and their 2011 sixth-round pick to Nashville for the No. 82 pick.

The Kings used that pick to take Shore, an 18-year-old center from the University of Denver who was ranked, by Central Scouting, as the No. 56 North American skater.

Shore, 6-foot and 184 pounds, had 18 points in 28 games for the Pioneers this season and, according to scouting reports, is a playmaker with strong faceoff skills.

``It's awesome,’’ Shore said, of being drafted, during an interview on the NHL Network. ``Obviously it's a great feeling. You put a lot of work in, into getting drafted, and obviously I'm really excited to be drafted by a great organization like the Kings.''

Shore is a product of the U.S. national development program, as is Mersch, an 18-year-old winger from the University of Wisconsin whom the Kings took in the fourth round.

Mersch had 19 points in 41 games in his first season with the Badgers.

"I like to play my power-forward game," Mersch said. "Hopefully I can work hard and hopefully end up on the roster someday. … I like being in front of the net. Tomas Holmstrom is great, I like watching him in front. So far, I've heard Wayne Simmonds a little bit, but now he's not on the team anymore, which is unfortunate. I like to watch a lot of players and pick things from them.''

In the fifth round, the Kings selected Lowry, making it a big day for that family. Lowry’s brother, Adam, had been selected by Winnipeg in the third round. Their father, Dave, played in the NHL and now works as an assistant coach for the Calgary Flames.

Lowry spent the past two seasons playing for Victoria of the junior-level British Columbia Hockey League and has committed to Cornell for next season. In 2010-11, Lowry -- listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds -- totaled 24 goals and 43 assists in 42 games.

Finally, in the seventh round, the Kings took Schumacher, a 17-year-old forward who has been playing at the junior level in Sweden. Schumacher, listed at 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, played 22 games for Frolunda HC last season and totaled seven points.

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