A look inside the pick, as the Kings select a “power forward” in Liam Greentree during Round 1

Draft Day 1 is in the books!

The LA Kings had an eventful day. That day started at 10 AM as the Kings traded back in Round 1. In moving Pick 21 for Pick 26, along with picks in the second and seventh rounds, the Kings took a bit of a risk in ensuring they got the player they wanted. That risk ultimately paid off as the Kings wound up selecting Liam Greentree, a player who was on the draft board had the Kings remained at Pick 21.

The trade was ultimately executed today but it was honestly several days in the making.

As the final draft board for the Kings transpired, the plan was decided to trade down in hopes of acquiring a second-round pick in the process.

“That was Mark [Yannetti]’s plan, probably four or five days out, when he started to finalize his list,” General Manager Rob Blake said. “Understanding some of the teams around us that may have the ability to move or want to move and those discussions took place. As it worked, that’s how it played out here today.”

The plan was to move down. It wasn’t even that secretive, for a team that was without picks in Rounds 2 and 3 after trades made over the last 18 months.

The deal with Montreal came together as the respective draft boards played out for both teams. Typically, these trades happen during the draft, executed on the draft floor. That’s probably how, originally, the Kings saw things developing but Montreal proved to be a willing and eager partner to get it done early. The Kings saw value in picking up a second rounder and made the move early.

“I think just the way they had their selection set up, in the range of the players, they felt comfortable doing it [early],” Blake said. “A lot of times it happens on the draft floor, when players start to go, but based off of where we were picking, they were comfortable with doing it early.”

The result was selecting forward Liam Greentree from the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

Greentree was regularly ranked in the Top 20 of several expert rankings around the hockey world. By those standards, it’s a coup for the Kings and likely one of the best value options available at the end of the first round.

“Coming into the day, part of the talk this morning was moving back to a different selection,” Blake added. “Players they had targeted, they felt we could move back and gain some value and still be able to be in the range of the player they wanted. As it turned out, Liam was available.”

Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Greentree is a player the Kings met with in the pre-draft process, someone they identified as a player of interest.

The Kings had an interview with Greentree at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo earlier this month. Greentree felt that interview went very well, complementing those he met with from the organization.

“I kind of knew that they liked me and they were interested,” Greentree said of meeting with Kings brass. “I felt good after it and they were really nice. I felt welcome before I even knew I was going there.”

In Greentree, the Kings selected a high-scoring forward out of the OHL. His 90 points were tied for 11th in the OHL this season, despite playing for a young Windsor squad that finished with just 44 points, the lowest total in the Western Conference. Greentree was an extremely bright light from that group.

Strong offensive talents with a big frame and willingness to play physically. That’s an appealing combination.

Greentree used the term “power forward” to describe his own game and that’s a really good thing. On top of the scoring touch, he doesn’t shy away from battles and doing the work in the corners. He’s got the skill to complement it, though too and that’s exciting.

“I think I’m a power forward, drive the net and win battles and I think I have a little bit of finesse to my game as well,” Greentree said. “I can stickhandle in tight areas and I think I have a really good shot that can be deployed.”

He’s not a finished product though and he understands that. In terms of his areas of improvement, Greentree didn’t shy away from what was generally considered to be his weakest trait by independent evaluators – his skating.

Chris Peters of Flo Hockey compared Greentree’s draft profile to that of Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars. Has the offensive tools and the grind to his game but is missing the skating element, right now. Obviously an important area but it’s an area we’ve seen players improve at his age. He’s already working hard towards doing so.

The skating is something he’s identified personally and he’s committed to improving in that area. Greentree said that he’s already taking strides in that area – pun intended – over the summer to address that area of his game.

“For me, my skating is a big thing,” Greentree said. “That’s something that I’ve already started to work on and I’m going to continue working on it for sure.”

There’s also an intangible to Greentree’s profile that you don’t commonly see in a draft-eligible player.

In January 2024, Greentree was named as the captain of the Windsor Spitfires. A player who had just turned 18 captaining a team with players as old as 21 is not a common sight in any of the CHL leagues. It says a lot about the character of the player the Kings just drafted, though. For anyone of that age to be trusted as a team captain, leading and guiding players who are older than he is, says a lot about what he brings to the table as a person.

“For me, it’s kind of doing the same things,” Greentree said of his growth as a leader. “One of the biggest things that my GM told me was just keep playing the game and you’ll do great and that’s kind of what I did. I didn’t change too much and next year, I’m going to take on more of a leadership role as well and it’s going to be better next year for sure.”

For tonight, it’s great to get those descriptors of who Greentree is as a person and as a player. What’s more exciting though is just to see the excitement Greentree had in being drafted by anyone and specifically in being drafted by the Kings.

Greentree got to experience tonight with family – his parents plus his brother and sister. He called his father one of the biggest influences in his hockey journey, noting the help he’s given him, how he’s pushed him and sacrificed to help his son achieve his dream. Getting to experience that moment together was special.

“This is a pretty cool moment for me, especially for me and my family and I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” Greentree said. “Hearing my name [called] is something I going to be something I remember for the rest of my life. Good to get it out of the way and take some deep breaths now.”

Expect to see Greentree in Southern California next week for LA Kings development camp, as he confirmed he’s slated to attend. He’ll be a player to watch among a group of Kings prospects and invitees, as well what will figure to be many of the players the Kings wind up selecting tomorrow on Day 2.

The Kings have five selections on Day 2, with picks in Rounds 2, 4, 6 and 7 (x2). We’ll be back at it bright and early with full coverage from tomorrow’s picks!

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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