After a disappointing 2016-2017 NHL season and front office and sideline turnover, the Los Angeles Kings are ready for a fresh start. After missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, the Kings will look to improve the roster ahead of the 2017-2018 season.
The first opportunity for the franchise to improve their team is the 2017 NHL Draft. After finishing with a 39-35-8 record, Los Angeles was awarded the No. 11 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and the Kings selected Gabriel Vilardi:
“The LA Kings selected forward Gabriel Vilardi with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.”
Kings assistant general manager Mike Futa explained the decision to select Vilardi:
“We were looking to upgrade our skill, and we did. He’s a big kid with an incredible skill package and he’s a winner.”
Vilardi is one of the first high-profile prospects to be selected by Los Angeles in quite some time and it was a surprise to see him drop on draft night. NHL Central Scouting had the center ranked as the fourth best North American skater while International Scouting Services had him as the third best. Despite being the eighth center picked in the first round, Vilardi is a tantalizing prospect with his positional versatility, ability to create offense and protect the puck.
The 6’3″, 203-pound center will turn 18 years old in August and is set to appear in Hockey Canada’s Development Camp for the 2017-2018 World Junior Championships. He is also expected to attend Kings Development Camp later this month.