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Depth isn't great, but talent is there

June 22, 2007|Lonnie White and Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writers

If you're expecting this week's NHL entry draft to be filled with immediate impact players -- similar to the blockbuster crop produced in 2003 -- think again.

"For the most part, this is your normal type of draft," said Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, who has the No. 4 pick in tonight's first round (Rounds 2-7 will be Saturday). The Ducks will pick 16th.

The 2003 draft "was a pretty strong class," Lombardi said. "But that was an aberration."

That class, which included Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and the Kings' Dustin Brown, fed a lot of NHL teams. In fact, most of the 30 first-round picks already are key players.

This year's class might not have that depth, but it has talent.

Patrick Kane, a skilled playmaker from Buffalo, N.Y., is expected to be the No. 1 pick, which belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fellow forwards Kyle Turris and James Van Riemsdyk are expected to be selected by Philadelphia and Phoenix with the No. 2 and 3 picks, respectively.

At No. 4, the highest pick the Kings will have used since 1997, Lombardi has a wide-open board to work with. He also has nine other selections, including two in the second round.

"If you're not shopping, you're not doing your job," he said.

Players who have Lombardi's attention include forwards Jakub Voracek, Alexei Cherepanov, Sam Gagner and Logan Couture. At 6 feet 1 and 187 pounds, Voracek has size and is solid on the puck. But Cherepanov, a high-scoring winger from Russia, has potential to be an NHL star.

Named the top forward at the 2007 World Junior Championships, Cherepanov is a dynamic skater with great hands.

But the Kings might use that No. 4 to get a defenseman, either Karl Alzner (a 6-foot-2 skilled stay-at-home player) or Keaton Ellerby (a 6-foot-4 playmaker).

The Ducks got the 16th selection in the deal that sent defenseman Shane O'Brien to Tampa Bay.

Bur GM Brian Burke won't draft to fill a certain need. "We take the best athlete available," he said. "That will never change."

With a need to restock their organization with talented forwards, the Ducks could go with centers Mikael Backlund, Brandon Sutter or Colton Gillies.

Sutter is the son of former NHL player Brent Sutter and nephew of Calgary GM Darryl Sutter. Gillies is the nephew of Hall of Famer and former New York Islanders star Clark Gillies.

If the Ducks go for a defenseman, Ryan McDonagh, Thomas Hickey and Kevin Shattenkirk might be available. Another intriguing prospect is Jonathon Blum, expected to be the first California player to go in the first round. Blum was born in Long Beach and lives in Rancho Santa Margarita.

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