Drafting 18-year-old prospects is an inexact science, particularly as the rounds go by and the names aren’t as familiar. But the Kings have had some success in drafting beyond the first and second rounds in their history. The Kings don’t have a first-round pick in Sunday’s draft, but they have one in the second round, one in the third and three in the fourth. The Kings’ top second-round picks were detailed in an earlier post. Here are some of the best selections they made in the third and fourth rounds over the years:
1980: Bernie Nicholls, center, fourth round. Nicholls scored 475 goals in 1,127 games over 18 seasons with the Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. Had to believe anyone passed on him. The Kings took defenseman Larry Murphy and right wing Jim Fox with the fourth and 10th picks that year, so it turned out to be a heck of a draft for them.
1988: Rob Blake, defenseman, fourth round. Blake’s hip checks rattled opponents for 1,270 games over 20 seasons with the Kings, Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks. He helped the Avalanche win the 2001 Stanley Cup championship after the Kings traded him. He also found time to record 777 career points, including 240 goals.
1991: Alexei Zhitnik, defenseman, fourth round. Zhitnik was part of the great wave of players from Europe who made a big impact on the NHL in the 1990s. Zhitnik, who was from Russia, added a touch of flair to the Kings’ defense corps. He was a member of the Kings team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in club history.
2000: Lubomir Visnovsky, defenseman, fourth round. Visnovsky was an undersized gem unearthed during Dave Taylor’s tenure as the Kings’ general manager. He made his mark as a fine quarterback on the power play and he spent last season playing for the New York Islanders after stops in Edmonton and Anaheim.
2005: Jonathan Quick, goaltender, third round. Really? You need me to explain why he was such a great pick? OK, fine. He’s the first player in franchise history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2012 playoffs, the year the Kings won the Stanley Cup after 45 years of failed attempts. He’s also the best third-round pick in team history.