LAKI draft coverage will pick up in June, but if you’re looking for expert projections and mock drafts, ESPN.com and TSN.ca have you covered.
First, there’s prospects guru Corey Pronman of ESPN, whose top-100 list of draft-eligible prospects came out today. A more detailed evaluation of the top 20 picks produced this evaluation of Swedish defender Erik Brannstrom, who checked in at 11th on Pronman’s list – the position L.A. is slotted to claim a player when the first round of the draft commences on June 23 at the United Center in Chicago.
Brannstrom is a favorite of mine relative to the opinions of many scouts. I’ve been very impressed the past two to three seasons, and I think he has a good pro ceiling. He’s a small defenseman at 5-foot-10, but he does a lot well. Brannstrom is a great skater, is gifted on his edges and has a good top gear. He can make plays in open ice because though his puck skills aren’t fantastic, they are solid, and his feet and great vision allow him to make a lot happen. His defense could use a little tweaking, as I’ve seen him make errors he shouldn’t, but he has still displayed the ability to play tough minutes. Despite the occasional gaffe, his hockey IQ shines most shifts. Although he is small, Brannstrom has an edge to his game as well.
Brannstrom had one goal and six points as a young 18-year-old – he made the 2017 draft cutoff by two weeks – playing with HV 71 in the SHL last season. Again, this isn’t to suggest that L.A. is keyed in on him, but rather that this is the type of player who could be available should L.A. walk to stage owning the 11th pick. Brannstrom actually goes 23rd in the mock draft compiled by TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button, who tabbed OHL-Mississauga sniper Owen Tippett going to the Kings at 11. “Owen may be best shooter in this draft and Kings need offence,” Button wrote.
Keep in mind 2013-14 LA Junior King Kailer Yamamoto, a Spokane native who plays for his hometown Chiefs in the WHL, is projected as a mid-first round pick. The skilled five-foot eight forward whose brother, Keanu, also came through the Junior Kings, is slotted 14th by Pronman, 25th by Button, and 17th among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings.
In what won’t surprise anyone who pays attention to turn-of-the-millenium naming patters in Western Canada, there are two Cales in Pronman’s top-100 list – one from Calgary and one Carlyle, Saskatchewan – one year after Los Angeles took a Kale with their top pick. No Braydens, Bradens or Braidenns in Pronman’s list, though.