Monday, June 11, 2007

LA Kings 1997 Draft - Who? Why? Where is He Now?

This the first in a ten-part series entitled Who? Why? and Where is He Now? in which I will document every Kings draft pick starting with the 1997 Draft. While it might not seem worth it to discuss players that were selected past the 4th Round, every now and then you find a diamond in the rough, like Luc Robitaille who was selected in the 9th Round of the 1984 Draft. If I time this correctly and don’t slack, I could end this series when the 2007 Draft occurs. The LA Kings website has a list of every player the Kings picked in a draft since their inception into the league in 1967. There have been many mistakes and many great players dealt away. Who were they? Why were the bad ones picked? and Why were the good ones traded away? Wait no longer, here we go with the 1997 Draft (round picked is listed in parenthesis):

  1. Olli Jokinen (R1)
  2. Matt Zultek (R1)
  3. Scott Barney (R2)
  4. Joe Corvo (R4)
  5. Sean Blanchard (R4)
  6. Richard Seeley (R6)
  7. Jeff Katcher (R6)
  8. Jay Kopischke (R8)
  9. Konrad Brand (R9)

Right away, I only recognize two players: Jokinen and Corvo. That's never a good sign. In fairness to the Kings,Jokinen did not begin to shine till the ’02-’03 season when he was playing for the Florida Panthers. Sure, Kings fan and the organization may beat themselves up for letting a star get away, but seriously, it took him 6 years to finally live up to his potential? The Kings traded Jokinen to the New York Islanders in exchange for Zigmund Palffy. During the time Jokinen was “getting adjusted” to the NHL, Palffy was racking up the points in LA. 66 points in ’99-’00, 89 points in ’00-’01, 59 points in ’01-’02, 85 points in ’02-03, and 41 points in ’03-’04 (in only 35 games). So now we wonder, was it worth it to have Palffy help in the short-term, or would it have been better to have kept Jokinen in the hopes that he could be a leader in the long-term?

According to
Wikipedia, The Kings were unable to sign [Matt Zultek] to a contract, and he was redrafted in 1999 by the Boston Bruins. Zultek never played in the NHL, and he currently plays in the ECHL with the Toledo Storm. What an awesome first round pick! Well done, Dave Taylor! You started out as GM on the right foot, didn’t ya?

Despite being drafted in 1997,
Scott Barney has only played in 3 NHL seasons, 2 with the Kings and 1 with Atlanta, stringing together a whopping 11 points.

Joe Corvo is a stud. With the exception of his first season, he has consistently put up solid numbers. During the ’05-’06 season, Corvo and Visnovsky were the top two offensive-defensemen on the Kings. I was sad to see him sign with Ottawa as an Unrestricted Free Agent and I was a bit surprised that the Kings didn’t retain him. Not sure if one party wanted out or if they mutually parted ways, but the Kings did miss his presence at the blueline.

The only bit of information I found on
Sean Blanchard is that he was the CHL Defenceman of the Year in the ’96-’97 season while he played with the Ottawa 67’s. According to Hockeydb.comhe played in Europe, the OHL, ECHL, IHL, and currently plays in the AHL. It doesn’t appear that the Kings ever signed him.

Richard Seeley has played 4 seasons with the Monarchs and a number of seasons with other WHL, AHL, ECHL, and DEL teams.

Jeff Katcher played in the WHL from 1996-2000. That’s it.

Jay Kopischke played 4 years at Notre Dame and 2 seasons in the ECHL.

Konrad Brand played in the WHL, CIAU, ACAC, and currently plays in the CHL.

Of the 9 players selected by the Kings in the 1997 Draft, 3 play in the NHL and only 2 are impact players. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this wasn’t the best draft for the Kings. I realize that cutting Jokinen loose after a couple of nonproductive years must have been a tough decision. But I also wonder what the Kings scouts saw in the other players. Dave Taylor really shot himself in the foot with these choices considering only 1 player, Corvo, ever lived up to his potential during Taylor’s tenure.

As bad as this draft was, the 1998 Draft doesn’t look much better.

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