Insiders. Several more notes. There’s a lot more transcribing to take care of. So much more transcribing. But first, a few bits that didn’t make it into last night’s blog deadline but are still very much worth your time:
HUGHESDAY, APRIL 9. The draft lottery! Here’s to hoping LA Kings fans come away from the night waggish and entertained, as if they had just seen Lottery Ticket, and not haunted and reflective, as if they had just read The Lottery. You’re read up on this by now, but a reminder:
*** There will be three lottery drawings. The first draw determines the team selecting first overall, the second draw determines the team selecting second, and the third draw determines the team selecting third. The 12 teams whose ping pong balls were not chosen will be slotted in the 4-15 draft spots in inverse order of their regular season points.
*** Los Angeles can fall no farther than fifth in the draft. They have a 26.5% chance at a top-two pick. That separates them from 29th-place New Jersey, which has a 22.8% chance at a top-two pick. The highest probability goes to Ottawa, aka Colorado, which can fall no farther than fourth and has a 35% chance at a top-two pick. For nightmare fuel, consider a combination of Edmonton (13.3% top-two chance) and Anaheim (12.3%). Tankathon is your lottery day hub.
*** Mike Commito has a good read on lottery history, beginning with Los Angeles winning the inaugural lottery in 1995 but only being able to move up four spots to third overall. Via Commito: “Despite those odds, the Kings won. The team was stunned. Since it was such a long shot, the Kings’ did not send anyone of note from hockey operations. Their representative was team executive vice president Lester Wintz, who just happened to be in New York at the time on business. He was just supposed to be there to congratulate and shake hands with the winner.” They selected Aki Berg, while Ottawa and the New York Islanders took Bryan Berard and Wade Redden. This was not an overwhelmingly good first round, with Jarome Iginla the steal at 11 overall by, uh, Dallas, and Shane Doan, J-S Giguere and Petr Sykora among the standouts. None went in the top six. In addition to Berg, Los Angeles’ draft picks that year to play in the NHL were Donald MacLean, Pavel Rosa, Vladimir Tsyplakov and Jason Morgan.
*** Held in Toronto, the lottery will be broadcast beginning at 5:00 p.m. PT on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app. Luc Robitaille is there to represent the LA Kings. “Lucky Luc,” Rob Blake said smiling at yesterday’s press conference. Blake’s not particularly superstitious – perhaps not as much as Robitaille is. “No, that’s why I’m sending Luc,” he joked.
*** It would be a tall ask to make a trade to the top overall pick should Los Angeles benefit from good fortune and end up at number two overall. “Doubtful, very doubtful. But again, until we know exactly where we’re picking, I’ll rely a lot on Mark Yannetti and his staff on the top guys in the draft and understanding where they are,” Blake said before noting there is still a good player to be had between three and five. “They’re good players. They’re really good players.”
*** The NHL Draft will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. The latest rankings are here, courtesy of Craig Button.
One more quick note, because we may be coming to a head on this relatively soon: the LA Kings will offer KHL-based prospect Nikolai Prokhorkin a one-year, entry-level contract, Rob Blake confirmed to LA Kings Insider on Monday. Prokhorkin, who turns 26 in September, is a 2012 fourth round pick with a good mix of competitiveness and size with some skill who hasn’t played in a North American league since he returned to Russia after an eight-game spell with AHL-Manchester as a 19-year-old in 2012-13. He and Ilya Kovalchuk both scored twice against the United States in pool play at the PyeongChang Games en route to a gold medal, and in 2018-19 with SKA St. Petersburg set career-highs with 20 goals, 21 assists and 41 points. SKA was eliminated from the Gagarin Cup Playoffs today by rival CSKA Moscow.
Though they could come to terms on a new contract, the Kings wouldn’t be allowed to announce a hypothetical Prokhorkin signing until after his contract with SKA expires on April 30. But they’ve been scouting and and have recruited the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Chelyabinsk and have well-established relationship with the club prospect. From my understanding, this is basically the last opportunity for the Kings and Prokhorkin to link up, given his prior reluctance to commit to playing for the organization without an assurance that he’d be playing in the NHL. But indications are that this is a player motivated to play and succeed in the NHL; more context on the relationship between Prokhorkin and the Kings is available here.
— Lead photo via Kevin Light/Getty Images