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Cup champion Kings add 10 players at NHL Draft

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup twice in the past three seasons with the help of a couple of former Philadelphia Flyers. They started the process of winning the Cup again this weekend at the Flyers' home, Wells Fargo Center.

The Kings picked 10 players at the 2014 NHL Draft over two days, including nine Saturday, with the goal of having those players become part of the foundation that keeps the Kings among the leading contenders to win the Cup again.

"I saw Jonathan Toews interviewed the other day and ... you see Toews lamenting about watching us celebrating on the ice and how close they were," Kings vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel Michael Futa said. "These are the days that stuff gets sorted out. This is the next wave of Kings."

That started Friday when the team selected Swedish power forward Adrian Kempe with the 29th pick. The 6-foot-1, 178-pound right wing had three goals and 19 points in 20 games with Modo in Sweden's junior league, and five goals and 11 points in 45 games with Modo in the Swedish Hockey League.

"We feel with Kempe we got somebody who plays a style that [Kings coach] Darryl [Sutter] expects our guys to play with his big-body presence on the wall and his ability to grind opponents down," Futa said. "He runs over people. He always wore a letter with whatever team he was on. He's mean, but he's got some skill set to him. He brings a little different flourish to him. Maybe a Tanner Pearson-style of game with a little more bite."

The Kings traded forward Linden Vey to the Vancouver Canucks for the 50th pick and selected Kingston Frontenacs defenseman Roland McKeown. McKeown (6-foot, 195) had 11 goals, 43 points and a plus-38 rating in 62 regular-season Ontario Hockey League games and was No. 27 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.

"He's an exceptional young puck-moving defenseman, he's got exceptional feet," Futa said. "He's got some areas of his defensive game that he's got to work out. Where we had him on our list, to be able to get him where we got him we're thrilled about."

McKeown had hoped to go in the first round Friday, but to have the Stanley Cup champion move up to select him was a nice consolation prize.

"That trade, when I heard it, I thought, 'This could get interesting,'" McKeown said. "To be able to have that trade and move up to get me was a very proud moment, and to know you're wanted at that spot, that's a pretty amazing feeling."

The Kings selected Ottawa 67's defenseman Alex Lintuniemi with their second second-round pick (No. 60), then took center Michael Amadio of the North Bay Battalion in the third round (No. 90).

Expectations are prospects who are picked in the first three rounds are considered solid bets to contribute to an NHL roster. But it's success in later rounds that help contenders become champions. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, who scored the series-clinching goals in the Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final, was a fourth-round pick, as was forward Dwight King. Forward Jordan Nolan was a seventh-round pick.

"Compete is something we never get cheated on," Futa said. "Jordan Nolan we took in the seventh round and it was about competition and his ability to compete. The guys that we've hit on late, the mantra we go by with is, compete."

That's what sold Futa and his staff on right wing Spencer Watson, who was picked in the seventh round (No. 209).

Watson, who was expected to be a top prospect when the season started, had 33 goals and 68 points in 65 games and was No. 59 on Central Scouting's final ranking. He was overshadowed a bit by Kingston teammates McKeown and Samuel Bennett, who went No. 4 to the Calgary Flames.

Futa mentioned Watson's natural talent around the net, but said what impressed him most was Watson's attitude when he came to the Kings' draft table.

"He's been sitting here two days waiting for his name to be called," he said. "And you didn't see any pout on his face when he came down those stairs. That tells me something about this kid. He'll use this experience as a growing experience. I'm glad he gutted it out. It's a nice story. When I saw he was here, I said, 'Good for him.'"

Futa saw similar traits in sixth-round pick (No. 157) center Jake Marchment from the Belleville Bulls. He's the nephew of former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment.

"He's got the same heaviness that his uncle had, and I mean that in a good sense," Futa said. "He has to work on his feet. ... They're not anywhere near an NHL level but his complete level is at the highest level you can possibly get. He plays hard, he's in the right position all the time.

"There's not one thing this kid won't do to give himself a chance to be a player. He's got the Marchment blood in him."

The Kings' 10 picks are the most by a Stanley Cup champion since the Chicago Blackhawks made 10 picks weeks after winning the Cup in 2010. The Blackhawks are starting to reap the benefits of that group with third-round pick center Joakim Nordstrom playing 16 regular-season and seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. The hope is that in a few years the players the Kings picked this weekend will start having an impact.

"You have to keep challenging yourself to be the best," Futa said. "We have a great staff, a small staff, but Dean [Lombardi, general manager] has set the bar high with what we expect of ourselves and I think we had a great couple days."


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