With just five picks at the 2023 NHL Draft, the Los Angeles Kings added two forwards, two defensemen and a goalie.
#54 LHD Jakub Dvorak:
Their first pick came at #54 where they selected Czech defenseman Jakub Dvorak.
He’s a big, rangy defenseman at 6-foot-5. He played in Czechia’s top division last season, meaning he comes with professional experience. He also held his own physically in that league and didn’t look out of his depth.
He captained Czechia’s under-18 team at the World Junior Championships and had his leadership qualities highlighted by most scouts.
There’s no word on where he’ll play next season but I imagine the Kings want to get him into the organization quickly. With professional experience under his belt, I’d expect him in the AHL soon.
It’s easy to see how he’d fit as the left defenseman in Todd McLellan’s system, although I generally don’t like drafting a player to fit a specific system.
That being said, you can never have too many big, physical players in your pipeline. And Dvorak isn’t a big reach either, he was ranked around the 50-60 range by most services.
Some scouts have questions about his skating, but some aren’t as concerned. If the Kings believe his skating isn’t an issue, it’s easy to see why they’d take him. Big defenseman who can skate usually find success in the NHL.
#78 RW Koehn Ziemmer:
Another big, physical player added to the system, Koehn Ziemmer fell into the Kings’ lap at 78.
Ranked in the 40-50 range by most services, teams seemed to be scared off by his poor skating.
There are also some concerns about his fitness, and at 6-foot 209 pounds I can see why. But that’s an easy fix. Time with NHL trainers should fix those problems and can have a massive impact on his skating issues.
A natural goal scorer, Ziemmer’s 41 goals put him behind only Connor Bedard for draft-eligible goalscoring in the WHL last season.
He plays a power game and likes to get in on the forecheck and throw his weight around.
“I like to score goals, I’ve been able to score goals my whole life but I’m a power forward,” said Ziemmer when asked about his game. “I like to lay the body, I like to play physical and I’m not afraid to fight either.”
I wouldn’t call Ziemmer a draft-for-need type of pick, but he does fill a need in the Kings’ pipeline. They don’t have many physical forwards with skill and Ziemmer adds that.
He’ll be back in the WHL next season where I’d expect him to score a lot of goals. Fifty or more will be very achievable in his D+1 season.
#118 G Hampton Slukynsky:
With Matt Vilalta and David Hrenak both leaving the organization this summer, it’s no surprise the Kings looked for a goalie in this draft.
They landed on Northern Michigan University commit Hampton Slukynsky.
Slukynksy spent most of last season with Warroad Road in the Minnesota High School league. He was voted the league’s best goalie and earned a spot on the USNTDP team after his high school season ended.
Slukynsky played one game at the U-18 World Junior Championships, shutting out Team Latvia.
The 6-foot-1 netminder is a reach based on most rankings, but goalies are always difficult to rank, especially outside of the very best goalies.
#150 RHD Matthew Mania:
Matthew Mania is a big swing at 150. He’s a toolsy defenseman with a high ceiling but a low floor.
He’s a highly-skilled offensive defenseman with big question marks surrounding his defensive play and compete level.
I’ve seen some comparisons to Jordan Spence in terms of upside, but most people expect him to take a long time before he’s NHL-ready. If he ever is.
#182 RW Ryan Conmy:
With their last pick of the draft, the Kings selected another goalscoring right-winger in Ryan Conmy out of the USHL.
Conmy’s another player with questionable skating, but at just 5-foot-10, 185 pounds he doesn’t have the physical presence of Ziemmer.
This is another swing for the Kings, not uncommon at this point in the draft, as smaller players who don’t skate well rarely make the NHL.
However, the goal-scoring upside is legitimate with Conmy. Scouts highlighted a lethal wrist shot and an ability to find open ice to get that shot off.
Here’s his scouting report from McKeen’s Hockey:
“One of the top scoring options out of the USHL this year, Conmy is extremely dangerous from anywhere in the offensive zone thanks to his lethal wrist shot and one-timer. Even though he’s on the smaller side and lacks high-end speed, Conmy finds his way to the slot and net often. He eludes checks thanks to strong agility and edgework at the USHL level, but he will need to upgrade his quickness to be a scorer at the NCAA level with New Hampshire. Players like Conmy can be difficult to project, but his skill and upside are great for where most have him ranked (including us).”
His freshman season at University of New Hampshire should give the Kings a better sense of his ceiling.