In the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings entered the draft with seven picks but ended up making four selections. General manager Rob Blake was busy on the phones, making three draft day trades, which moved his team up in the second round as well as gained them another second-round pick.
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Brandt Clarke, D, Barrie-OHL (Round 1, Pick 8)
Francesco Pinelli, C, Kitchener-OHL (Round 2, Pick 42)
Samuel Helenius, C, JYP-Liiga (Round 2, Pick 59)
Kirill Kirsanov, D, St. Petersburg-KHL (Round 3, Pick 84)
Best Pick: Brandt Clarke
Clarke was a slam dunk pick for the Kings at eighth overall. The fourth defensemen to come off the board, Clarke has an elite hockey IQ on the back end. He is able to be patient with the puck and let plays develop. He can also put up good point totals on the offensive side of the ice, which is something the Kings have relied on Drew Doughty for, but he isn’t getting any younger. Clarke could very well assume that mantle in the future for Los Angeles.
Worst Pick: Samuel Helenius
Helenius doesn’t have a ton of pro experience and still has some holes in his game that the Kings will need to work on. In his first year in Liiga, the professional league in Finland, he only tallied 14 points in 54 games. While his style is more physical, the Kings need offensive talent right now, and Helenius has holes in his offensive game as well as his skating.
Sleeper Pick: Francesco Pinelli
The Kings have lots of faith in Pinelli, considering they traded up to get him, and that faith could result in a big-time sleeper pick. Pinelli had a very impressive performance at the World Juniors for Team Canada, scoring 11 points. While he has traditionally played on the wing, his game will translate to center, and he could become a great two-way center for the Kings. Not to mention he has a great mentor with one of the best two-way centers in the NHL in Anze Kopitar. Pinelli could be a great weapon of the future for Los Angeles.
While the Kings may have had only four picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, but they used them with great precision. They were able to address their offensive woes on the back end with Clarke, add a good two-way center in Pinelli, some grit and defensive presence in Helenius, and a physical defenseman in Kirsanov. The Kings continued to build up what is already a strong prospect pool in this draft.
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